Health economics is a brand of Economics that deals primarily with proving the cost effectiveness of treatments for illness. This is important to measure the pros and cons of different medications or interventions and the underlying cost to either the government or private insurers (USA etc.)
The Pharmaceutical and Medical Device industries have seen a seismic shift in recent years towards including Health Economics from the very outset of their research. In doing so they ensure that they are producing cost effective treatments that can be delivered in line with current guidelines set out by either governments or private insurers.
In short by proving cost and efficacy from the outset, companies can ensure that they have the best opportunity to position their products within the market, recoup on investment and ultimately develop more novel Pharmaceuticals or Medical Devices.
For someone looking to move into the industry, the opportunities to find a role within this expanding sector are increasing all the time.
There are a number of different types of positions you could look at, and indeed a number of different avenues to take career down:
Many universities have specific research organisations attached to them such as the York Health Economics Consortium (YHEC), Centre for Health Economics (CHE), School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), and the Health Economics Research Unit (HERU). As well as academic research these organisations are also utilised by Pharmaceutical companies for their skills.
Health Economics Consultancies are outsourced vendors who provide services for Healthcare companies in Modelling, Outcomes Research, HTA Submissions, Value Communication and Policy Research. They can provide an excellent opportunity to gain a wide breadth of exposure in different disciplines on a project basis.
Pharma/Biotech/Medical Device Industries:
Working within industry can offer a variety of different roles, with every company set up in a slightly different manner. In some companies a Health Economics Manager will be responsible for creating economic content (models etc), Co-ordinating HTA submissions and looking at Market Access, in other companies they may be responsible for just one of these. In that respect each role should be looked at on a case by case basis giving you the opportunity to decide on what should be the next step in your career.
It’s also worth noting that whilst having Director title may be nice in many companies a Senior Health Economist will be exactly the same level.
There are many different paths to becoming a Health Economist although the standard route will require you to be educated to degree level in a Business, Economics or Life Sciences discipline, coupled with a Post Graduate Qualification in Health Economics, Health Policy or a related field. Normally as part of your Masters or Post Grad you will be required to complete a placement either within your institution or within industry. At this point you will be ready to undertake your first position.
Health Economics is a growing field that has become one of the most important hurdles in taking a product to market. Good Health Economists are continually in demand and as such you can expect a long and fruitful career on the cutting edge of healthcare.
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