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Step 2 (Optional) - Demonstrating 'value for money' of new medical devices

Introduction to health economics studies in the UK


In some clinical studies and investigations, it can be important to compare how much different treatments cost. This can be particularly important when two (or more) treatments are equally effective, but where one costs more than the other. The realisation of such cost-comparison studies is called health economics studies.

Health economic studies gives NHS purchasing decision-makers a standard way to think about health benefits and costs in order to try to get the best health gain for the most people, within a limited budget. Very often health economics studies require the development of complex economic models and medical device manufacturers have to use the services of specialised Universities or Consultancies in the UK.

For example, when studying the economic costs involved in the acquisition of a medical device used for cancer treatment, quite a long list of factors has to be considered, including the cost of prevention, the cost of treatment (eg care and recovery), as well as the costs of training of healthcare personnel, or other costs caused by illness and premature death (eg the loss of economic productivity or decreases in the productivity of family members), welfare, and health insurance expenditure.

After completion, the independent results of health economic studies can be used by manufacturers as credible evidence to inform NHS purchasing decision-makers.


Organisations that can help manufacturers realise health economics studies


Universities and consultancies with a track record in health economics can support businesses moving into this area, Examples includes (this is not meant as an exclusive list nor as any indicator of the quality of the organisation):

  • Universities:
    1. MATCH (see below)
    2. Department of Health Economics of York University
    3. Health Economics group at the University of Birmingham
    4. Healthcare Management group at Imperial College
    5. Health Economics Research Unit at the University of Aberdeen
    6. KCARE - King’s College Hospital and Department of Medical Engineering and Physics
  • Consultancies:
    1. Abacus International
    2. Matrix Knowledge
    3. Oxford Outcomes
    4. RTI International
    5. York Health Economics Consortium


In particular, two health economics centres based in UK universities are presented below in more details.

The Multidisciplinary Assessment of Technology Centre for Healthcare (MATCH)

MATCH (Multidisciplinary Assessment of Technology Centre for Healthcare) is a research collaboration between leading UK universities in healthcare technology assessment, and a cohort of industrial partners. It is recognised and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as a centre of excellence in its field, having been awarded the status of Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre (IMRC).

Health technology assessments are used to determine value for money when adopting medical technology. MATCH endeavours to embed HTA into supply-side thinking as well as on the demand side:

  • MATCH helps demand-side organisations such as Commercial Procurement Hubs and NICE to develop decision-support methods and tools, as well as with the NHS National Innovation Centre (NIC).
  • On the supply side of the fence, MATCH embeds HTA into the product development cycle, working with a range of companies that produce medical technology and companies that take it up and use it. The aim is to develop an integrated suite of methods that connect between the worlds of ‘based on belief’ and ‘based on evidence.’ This involves producing guidelines, developing methods to assess value from concept through to mature product, and providing integrated HTA tools for business processes such as software that help predict sales volumes and the value of treatments. Tools are available through the MATCH website or direct contact.

MRC Clinical Trials Unit and the Department of Health Economics of York University

This unit works in partnership with the Department of Health Economics at York University to:

  • Assess plans for new investigations and, where appropriate, to build in an economic evaluation.
  • Develop the use of health economics to help prioritise clinical investigations.
  • Look at information which has been collected about costs as part of a clinical investigation.
  • Develop research in economic evaluation.

Two examples of health economics assessment reports produced by the MRC Clinical Trials Unit are as follows:

  • Feb 2010; ‘Value of calprotectin in screening out irritable bowel syndrome’.
  • Feb 2009; ‘Cost effectiveness of ultra-sound elastography’