* To review past and current efforts to evaluate health services
* To review existing guidelines for economic evaluation of medical services in Europe
* To discuss and implement measures for quality insurance of economic evaluation
studies in medical care
* To develop guidelines that should be valid throughout the European Union
There is growing concern in all industrialised countries over the rising costs in medical care. In most European countries there is an extensive debate over how one can contain costs in medical care. The debate extends to the search to develop and apply techniques and processes to select health services which should be paid for by the national health service or social health insurance.
In the past few years economists have applied models of cost benefit analysis to medical services. In addition, public health researchers have discussed the question of evaluating health services according to their medical, epidemiological, economic and societal benefits. The outcomes of these economic evaluation studies are necessary, either to set prices, to place pharmaceutical products on positive lists or to influence prescription decisions and to enable registration on the reimbursement schedule of social health service suppliers.
It is extremely important for health policy in Europe and the European countries to develop mutual methodologies and standardised techniques in evaluating health services with regard to their economic costs and benefits. The establishment of the European market and the fulfilment of the Maastricht-Treaty requires that health policy in all countries use similar tools, speak the same "language" and enable the exchange of information on the economic aspects of health services. Therefore, a group of university-based economists was founded to work out guidelines for the evaluation in medical care, to give advice to governments, industry, associations and other decision makers in health care and to intensify the communication among researchers who are working on the methods of health service evaluation.