Expert services are offered to researchers at the planning phases of their research. These services are provided through the HEU to educate investigators about and to help them apply a wide range of health economic tools. The research areas amenable to these services will be diverse and will include: bench-to-bedside translation, clinical trials, health services delivery research, and health policy reform. The viewpoints of these evaluations may variously include the patient, hospital, healthcare budget or society as a whole. In an RCT setting, for example, our group of health economists will evaluate the appropriate study components to be measured and align those with resources that make up a large fraction of the difference in treatment and outcome costs between study participants randomized to the treatments or interventions under investigation. Such an approach will allow investigators to test whether and to what extent changes in total cost occur alongside improvements in outcomes. The crux of the HEU’s services will be the provision of expertise in health economic evaluation and the application of rigorous methodology to help CCTS investigators improve outcomes and reduce costs.
Investigators may be referred to the HEU from any member of the CCTS community. Initial consultations will be handled by Dr. Jones, who will assess the needs and link the investigator with the best member of the HEU to be of assistance. Such assistance may range from study design through data acquisition to post hoc analysis. The majority of investigators will likely benefit from one of the following standard generalizable methodological approaches to health economic evaluation. Because the application of health economics is neither widespread nor well understood in certain aspects of clinical and translational research, a major function of the HEU is to educate investigators in its methodology and possibilities. It is interesting to note that in the United Kingdom (UK), all clinical trials require a health economic analysis (much like all trials in the United States require a biostatistical analysis) before approval for funding. A goal of the HEU is to help to create an understanding of the appropriate use of health economic analysis.