The need for a consolidated research agenda for health economics in Europe
The Consolidated Health Economic Evaluation Reporting Standards (CHEERS) Task Force has called on researchers, editors and reviewers to adhere to reporting standards for health economic evaluations, recognising the importance of clearly communicated economic evidence in health policy decision making.1 While such steps are important it is pertinent to consider also in which technical areas the value of investing in new evidence is greatest, and moreover to what extent economic evidence resulting from academic endeavour is useful in practice.
The implementation of economic evidence has been most systematically attempted and institutionalised through Health Technology Assessment, largely in the area of pharmaceuticals which account for a limited fraction (generally 10-20%) of total health expenditures in Europe.2 Beyond pharmaceuticals, a systematic approach is uncommon and the uptake of economic evidence across health system levels may be hindered by budgetary silos or difficulties in interpreting and applying economic evidence in practice.3 Therefore it is crucial to examine on one hand what economic evidence is available for decision making, and on the other, how this knowledge and its translation can be improved to increase health care efficiency as demographic and epidemiologic pressures on health systems continue to grow.
The World Health Organization in partnership with the European Commission, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and a range of academic partners is currently undertaking a research project to outline a Research Agenda for Health Economic Evaluation (http://www.euro.who.int/en/RAHEEproject). The project examines what is known about the cost-effectiveness of treatments for the 10 highest burden conditions in Europe4 as well as contextual factors important for the translation of such knowledge in practice. Integration with ongoing activities is encouraged, and users and producers of evidence are invited to participate in shaping a research agenda for Europe which is responsive to needs and addresses the most significant challenges ahead.
1. Husereau, D. et al. Consolidated Health Economic Evaluation Reporting Standards (CHEERS) statement. BMJ 346, f1049 (2013)
2. OECD. OECD Health Statistics 2013. (2013). at http://www.oecd.org/els/healthsystems/oecdhealthdata2013-frequentlyreque...
3. Buxton, M. J. Economic Evaluation and Decision Making in the UK. Pharmacoeconomics 24,
4. Murray, C. J. L. et al. Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) for 291 diseases and injuries in 21 regions, 1990-2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet 380, 2197–223 (2012).
Competing interests: No competing interests