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Methods research for improved health economic evaluation


Proposals should provide new or improved methods for one or both of the following areas:

  • Understanding variations in costs and health outcomes within and across countries
  • Integrating data on costs and health outcomes from different sources

In terms of understanding variations in costs and health outcomes within and across countries, proposals should address which factors on the supply and demand side of a health system have major effects on the costs and outcomes of health-related interventions. This includes methods for more robust measures of wellbeing and quality of life, patient preferences, and experience, patient-reported outcomes, as well as methods for measuring broader economic and societal impacts such as on productivity. In the development of these methods, the perspectives of different important stakeholder groups in the health system and the broader economy should be taken into account.

With respect to data integration, proposals should develop improved or new methods to integrate data on direct and indirect costs of illness and on health outcomes from various sources, such as randomised controlled trials, observational studies, registries, surveys, routine administrative databases including social service records and eHealth[[eHealth is the use of ICT in health products, services and processes combined with organisational change in healthcare systems and new skills, in order to improve health of citizens, efficiency and productivity in healthcare delivery, and the economic and social value of health. eHealth covers the interaction between patients and health-service providers, institution-to-institution transmission of data, or peer-to-peer communication between patients and/or health professionals.]]. New methods should make use of the strengths of real-world data, while addressing their limitations. The development of new frameworks and models for integrating data sets from different sources should facilitate a continuous and informative assessment of health technologies, services and systems over time.

The research design should be developed by means of a multidisciplinary approach, integrating quantitative and qualitative methods and taking advantage of recent methodological developments in economics. Rigorous standards of health economic research should be applied, including the analysis of underlying assumptions. Research should consider aspects related to gender, socioeconomic status and other health determinants as well as issues related to data protection and relevant regulatory developments, as relevant. The methods to be developed should be applicable to a wide range of health-related interventions spanning prevention and treatment. Furthermore, methods to be developed should take into account the diversity of health systems within and across countries. Research proposals should establish synergies with other relevant research projects and initiatives.[[Examples include SC1-PM-18-2016 and the IMI2 Big Data for Better Outcomes Programme (BD4BO)]] Finally, methods and approaches should be validated, with a view to ensuring their applicability, including for routine use in health systems, and their suitability for addressing the above-mentioned changes and challenges faced by health systems.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 2 and 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Health systems need to be resilient. They must be able to adapt effectively to changing environments, and tackle significant challenges with limited resources. Many changes are taking place including demographics and burdens of disease, advances in biomedical research, health technologies and personalised medicine, and the availability of large, population-based data sets. These changes highlight the need and potential to develop new or improved methods for economic evaluation, including in the context of Health Technology Assessment and Health Systems Performance Assessment, to support decision-making.

While health economics research has generated evidence of differences between costs and health outcomes within and across countries, our understanding of major drivers of these differences is limited. Data on costs and health outcomes are available from an increasing range of sources, underlining the need for better data integration and synthesis of evidence. The challenge is to strengthen data generation for health economic evaluation, the methodological quality of the evaluations and their use in decision-making.

  • Validated improved or new approaches for the collection and analysis of data for health economic evaluation, resulting in high-quality and comparable information within and across countries
  • Validated improved or new approaches for integration of data from all relevant sources, to facilitate an informative and continuous assessment of health interventions and systems
  • Validated improved or new indicators, measures and tools, to be used by decision-makers for resource allocation in health systems that are patient-centred, efficient and sustainable.