Health economics and wound care
Health economics addresses, at its most basic, one of the fundamental issues in economics: deciding how to allocate limited resources to meet unlimited needs. In health economics specifically, we aim to evaluate and achieve 'efficiency, effectiveness, value and behavior in the production and consumption of health and healthcare'
How can we balance maximising benefits while minimising resource use? Here we run into one of the primary principles, and most confusing concepts for non-health economists, that governs health economics as a discipline:
Value for money is not the same as affordability
What is value for money in the healthcare space? To provide a very simplified example, let’s think of wound dressing selection in a clinical setting. It would be easy to assume that because wound dressing A is cheaper than wound dressing B, dressing A is the best choice because it is least expensive. But health economics takes numerous factors – not just item price – into consideration to make determinations about value for money.
Health economics is not about the price of care but takes into consideration both the outcomes important to patients, and the cost of the resources invested in delivering that care.
A true measure takes both into account. For example:
Time to healing
Infection rate reduction
Patient quality of life
Clinicians’ time and expertise
Hospital/clinic facilities, beds and equipment
Diagnostic testing and imaging
Pharmaceuticals, PPE, wound dressings, and so on
Value in healthcare delivery cannot be determined without an understanding of outcomes. By extension, in its application in real life, securing value for money is only possible by delivering the appropriate patient outcomes. For clinical staff and procurement professionals, quick, pragmatic decision-making should take both outcomes and cost into consideration.
In the coming weeks we will offer some unique insights into the fascinating world of health economics to help frame the conversations needed between clinicians and payers.
Gerhard Bothma, Mölnlycke’s Global Director for Health Economics and Governmental Affairs, introduces health economics and wound care economics in greater depth, and shares a framework that can be used to define value in your area.