Health Economics and Simulation Modelling

doctor, pills, dollar sign

Health economics is a field of study concerned with the connections between health and the resources needed to promote health (e.g., time, people, money and equipment). Because resources are limited, choices need to be made and priorities need to be identified.

By applying economic theories of demand, supply and social choice, health economics aims to understand decision-makers' behaviour. This includes individuals, households, health care providers, organizations and governments.

Latest Updates

Methods Matters webinar

Bright and colourful poster for the Methods Matters Webinar "Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (PROMS) for Falls Prevention" with an image of a patient having her foot placed in a brace by a doctor.

“Methods Matters” is a new monthly webinar series from the Unit's Methods Clusters to showcase emerging research in patient-oriented research methods. Hear from Methods Cluster project teams throughout BC who are doing patient-oriented research while studying patient-oriented research!

We are excited to announce the third Methods Matter webinar of the series, Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (PROMS) for Falls Prevention, presented by Jennifer Davis and Daria Tai.

Watch the recording

Educational videos now available

"Your values matter" in bouncy pink and green text.

HESM Methods Cluster co-leads, David Whitehurst and Nick Bansback, are leading a project that examines the utility of educational materials for engaging members of the public in health economics research.

See the videos

Peer Models Network

picture of website that says "scientific models inform healthcare decisions. We make those models available to everyone."

The Peer Models Network (PMN) is an initiative to make the scientific models that inform healthcare decisions available online, along with educational videos and other resources to help understand how they work.

You can check out their website here.


New publications

Designing Discrete Choice Experiments Using a Patient‐Oriented Approach

Read these partnered publications from our ‘Using Health Economics Methods to Design Clinical Studies’ project in The Patient. 


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Patient Commentary: Added Value and Validity to Research Outcomes Through Thoughtful Multifaceted Patient‐Oriented Research

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Cluster Themes 


Aligning Research Funding with Patient Priorities
Diversity and Underserved Populations



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 Patient and Public Values in Research
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Who and How? – Methods of Partner Engagement



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 Medication Reimbursement
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Communicating Results



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 Supply of Health Care
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Theoretical Foundations 



Projects in this Cluster

Projects are coded by colour to the themes listed above.

Using Health Economic Methods to Design Clinical Studies

Project Leads: Mark Harrison and Tracey-Lea Laba

It has been estimated that up to 85% of the money spent on medical research might be wasted. One possible reason for this waste is that most research tries to figure out if a treatment works before checking with patients whether they would be willing to try that treatment. In this project we will use methods... read more

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Social, Ethical, and Other Value Judgments in Health Economics Modelling

Project Leads: Diego Silva and Stephanie Harvard

Many decisions are needed during the process of scientific research. Some of these decisions require expertise in science, but others do not. For example, when researchers study whether a drug works they may decide to test it in different age-groups, genders or races. This choice does not require expertise... read more

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Examining the Utility of Educational Videos

Project Leads: David Whitehurst and Nick Bansback

Patients, caregivers, and the public have a right to help decide how our health dollars are spent. In 2018, the public sector paid for almost 70% of health services in Canada (about $180 billion). Deciding what the public purse should pay for can be complicated because the resources we have from the... read more

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Community Building Initiatives

Project Leads: David Whitehurst and Nick Bansback

As described in the Report on Stakeholder Consultations for Methods Cluster Development, the co-leads of the HESM Methods Cluster have sought input from members of the health economics and simulation modelling community regarding training needs and community-building ... read more

Using Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) to Support Adherence to Falls Prevention Clinic

Project Lead: Jennifer Davis

The goal of this project was to create an approach that utilizes Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) data to help improve patients' adherence to falls prevention recommendations. Better adherence would lead to fewer falls over time.

  1. We conducted... read more
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Measuring Out-of-Pocket Costs for Rural Patients Accessing Surgical Services in BC

Project Leads: Asif Raza Khowaja and Jude Kornelsen

The objectives of this project were:

  1. To explore thematic areas surrounding out of pocket costs relevant to rural BC patients seeking health care outside their home community. 
  2. To develop and administer an instrument to gain empirical evidence on the nature and extent of out-of-pocket costs for rural residents of BC who have to travel for health care, including absence-related costs such as childcare of lost wages... read more
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Can Natural Language Processing Estimate Patient Preferences?

Project Leads: Nick Dragojlovic and Larry Lynd

“Social media listening” (SML) is an emerging method of preference exploration that overcomes some of the limitations of interviews and focus groups in which qualitative analysis techniques are applied to patient-generated discussions on social media. This approach averts some of the time and resources... read more

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How to Do Patient Engagement in Rapid-Cycle Health Technology Assessment

Project Lead: Craig Mitton

Health technology assessment is a type of analysis that provides information on the costs and benefits of various health technologies and services. One recent advance in health technology assessment has been the involvement of patients or public members in providing insight into the use of ... read more

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Can Patient Preferences and Values be Objectively Incorporated into the Design and Evaluation of Technologies?

Project Leads: Mohsen Sadatsafavi and Steven Schechter

Summary coming soon!

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Improving the Methods to Measure Work Productivity Losses in Patients and Caregivers

Project Leads: Wei Zhang and Christine Lee

In developing the caregiver version of the Valuation of Lost Productivity (VOLP) questionnaire, we found that work productivity loss concepts including absenteeism, presenteeism, and employment status changes were generally well understood among interview participants. Participants had... read more

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You Talk, We Listen: Advancing Health Economics Methods for Rural and Remote Health Research

Project Leads: Magda Aguiar, Theresa Healy, Mark Harrison

Health economics is the study of resource allocation in health care. Resources might be monetary, such as private or governmental funds, as well as non-monetary, such as health professionals and other staff, equipment and social support. Health resources are scarce and policy makers are ... read more

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The Peer Models Network: A Novel Mechanism to Support Transformative Model Interrogation in Patient-Oriented Health Economics

Project Leads: Dr. Stephanie Harvard, Dr. Mohsen Sadatsafavi, and Amin Adibi

In BC's public health care system, decision-makers have to choose what treatments and health programs to invest in, as the provincial budget cannot fund everything. To help make these tough choices, decision-makers often rely on information from 'health economists', researchers that specialize in health care ... see more

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Advancing the Methods for Using Routinely Collected Health Data

Project leads: Logan Trenaman and Mark Harrison

Summary coming soon!

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Cluster Leads

Nick Bansback

Dr. Bansback is seconded to the Unit from the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where he is an Associate Professor. Among many affiliations, he is the Program Head of Decision Sciences at the Centre for Health Evaluation & Outcomes Sciences (CHÉOS), one of the core partner organizations of the BC SUPPORT Unit. Dr. Bansback holds a PhD in health economics from the University of Sheffield (UK), and completed his postdoctoral training at UBC. Currently a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) New Investigator, Dr. Bansback’s research is focused on using decision science to maximize the value patients and the public gain from health care.

David Whitehurst

Dr. Whitehurst is seconded to the Unit from the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University (SFU). He is an economist who has specialized in the areas of health and health care throughout his career. Prior to his appointment at SFU in 2012, he held research positions at UBC, and at the Universities of Birmingham and Keele in the UK. His primary research interests focus on the measurement and valuation of quality of life and well-being outcome suitable for use in economic evaluation.