Funding: Jr Investigator Award
In this time of economic uncertainty, it is important for organizations, including those in public health, to show the value in their strategy. It is critical that health outcomes be expressed in a way that makes a positive business case for promising, evidence-based public health interventions. Several methods for economic evaluation have been used in other social sciences including health care, but public health systems interventions present unique challenges. System changes such as partnerships, quality improvement initiatives and delivery methods are not obvious frameworks for cost analysis. This research will explore common methods for financially quantifying value in public health system, and these methods will be applied to real-world examples, including a quality improvement intervention, an academic-public health partnership and a new model of care delivery for high blood pressure patients. Cost effective analysis, cost utility analysis, and cost benefit analysis, including return on investment, will be applied to outcomes and financial data already collected from existing interventions. This study will address the following National Research Agenda questions for PHSSR: how do investments in public health strategies influence the need for downstream spending on medical care and/or social services; what measures provide the most valid and reliable indicators of the financial performance (and quality improvement strategies) of public health agencies? Public health practitioners lack specific tools and convenient methods for completing cost-benefit analysis, while researchers often lack real-world examples to demonstrate the usefulness of economic evaluation. My research will result in a useful taxonomy of economic evaluation methods with practical examples. Using economic analysis will contribute to a business argument necessary when seeking public health funding and advocating to policy leaders who struggle with difficult budget constraints.
William Riley, Ph.D.
Quantifying the Value of Investing in Public Health (PHSSR Research-in-Progress Webinar, August 2014 recording)