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 the behaviour of decision makers. This includes individuals, households, health care providers, organizations and governments.

Latest Updates

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 a new 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.


Rural travel costs project in the news!

headline: patient travel costs a huge public health issue

 Asif Khowaja and Jude Kornelsen are leading a Health Economics and Simulation Modeling Methods Cluster project which developed a measure for how much patients outside major cities are paying to access care. Read coverage in The Tyee here

New Publications


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

Patient Commentary: Added Value and Validity to Research Outcomes Through Thoughtful Multifaceted Patient‐Oriented Research
Designing Discrete Choice Experiments Using a Patient‐Oriented Approach





Go to article                                                                                                               Go to article

Cluster Themes 


Aligning Research Funding with Patient Priorities
Diversity and Underserved Populations



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



orange bar
 Medication Reimbursement
pink bar
Communicating Results



dark teal bar
 Supply of Health Care
light grey bar
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 Lead: Mark Harrison

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

purple line

Value-Based Decisions in Health Economics and Simulation Modelling Studies

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

purple line


Examining the Utility of Educational Videos for Increasing Knowledge and Enhancing the Experiences of Patient Partners in Health Economics Research

Project Lead: David Whitehurst

Patients, caregivers, and the public have a right to help decide how our health dollars are spent. In 2018, the public sector will pay for almost 70% of health services in Canada (about $175 billion). Deciding what the public purse should pay for can be complicated, because the resources we have  from the ... read more

pink line
yellow line

Community Building Initiatives

Project Lead: David Whitehurst

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

Can Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) Data Be Used to Support Adherence to Falls Prevention Clinic Recommendations? A Pilot Study

Project Lead: Jennifer Davis

Summary coming soon!

pink line
purple line

The Development and Pilot-Testing of an Instrument to Measure Out-Of-Pocket Costs for Rural Patients Accessing Surgical Services in British Columbia

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
grey line
yellow line

Can Natural Language Processing Estimate Patient Preferences Directly from Patient-Generated Text?

Project Leads: Nick Dragojlovic and Larry Lynd

Summary coming soon!

purple line

How to do Patient Engagement in Rapid-Cycle HTA

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

orange line

Can patient preferences and values be objectively incorporated into the design and evaluation of technologies? A conceptual framework and a proof-of-concept study

Project Leads: Mohsen Sadatsafavi and Steven Schechter

Summary coming soon!

grey line
pink line

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

yellow line

You talk, we listen: advancing health economics methods for rural and remote health research by gathering local communities' knowledge and experiences in health care decision making

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

grey line
pink line
yellow line

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

Project Leads: Stephanie Harvard and Mohsen Sadatsafavi

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

pink line
purple line


Advancing the methods for using routinely collected PROMs, PREMs and administrative data for health economics research

Project leads: Logan Trenaman and Mark Harrison

Summary coming soon!

purple line

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 Assistant 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 as Assistant Professor at SFU, he held research positions at UBC, and at the Universities of Birmingham and Keele in the UK. Dr. Whitehurst is also an Associate Scientist at the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology & Evaluation (C2E2), a core partner organization to the BC SUPPORT Unit. His current research is focused on the assessment of quality of life in the context of economic evaluation, and he works across a broad range of clinical areas, including spinal cord injury and care for seniors.