Institute for Health & Ageing

Research Platforms

Health Economics

An overarching discipline applied to most IHA research projects

Health economics studies both the costs and the effects of a service or program/ intervention. In research it usually involves a comparison of a novel intervention with standard practice. By having well-defined questions, an health economic analysis can put a definitive value of effectiveness of the new intervention compared with the intervention that is most commonly used now. It is assumed that resources are scarce (time/ money etc) and that some existing resource(s) will need to be given up if the new intervention were implemented. An economic evaluation is a method for quantifying the additional cost of any extra benefit. Economic evaluations therefore help guide decision-makers about the relative value-for-money of different therapies.

A health economic evaluation calculates the monetary cost of an intervention in addition to the change in health that might be measured using a validated quality of life tool. The costing of resources can include cost of time (paid employee /volunteer / family) as well as the cost of developing the drug or novel intervention and the cost of implementing the drug or intervention. The cost of possible side-effects is also considered. ‘Usual care’ is costed in the same way. The benefit of the new intervention is commonly measured as the ‘extra’ quality of life enjoyed by the group receiving the novel intervention over the quality of life in the group receiving ‘usual care’. This can be expressed as an incremental monetary cost per extra quality of life score (utility value) gained by the novel intervention.

At the Institute for Health and Ageing we recognise that the national cost of healthcare is rapidly growing as a higher proportion of Australia’s population moves from tax-paying households to retirement and a higher burden of individuals with chronic disease require ongoing healthcare support. We are committed not only to initiating novel effective interventions to maximise health in ageing but also to ensuring that these interventions are cost-effective compared to current practice.

Current health economics projects at the Institute for Health and Ageing include:

  • Expanding our national report on the burden of osteoporosis in Australia 2012 to 2022 to quantifying the monetary cost of osteoporosis and associated fractures for Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and Northern Territory. This work is commissioned from Osteoporosis Australia and is done in collaboration with the School of Health and Social Development at Deakin University.
  • The Institute’s proposal to evaluate an innovative program to improve quality of life of residents through Consumer Directed Care in residential facilities for the Aged.
  • A cost-effectiveness analysis of our Men’s Health program – an intervention targeted to middle-aged men to increase awareness and change behaviour to delay progression of cardiovascular disease. This project is designed in collaboration with our ACU colleagues at the Mary McKillop Institute for Health Research.