Our health: how much does it cost?

In the healthcare industry, innovation is happening so rapidly that decision-makers worldwide are increasingly forced to weigh which new treatments and technologies can be financed by healthcare budgets or health insurers. Healthcare economists are also increasingly being called upon to answer the question that concerns many people: how much does our health cost?

This is the basis for the latest research conducted by the HECON Health Economics Research Center, which operates at the University Research and Innovation Center of Óbuda University in Hungary. The center has developed a new method for estimating missing healthcare cost data for countries in the Middle East region. One frequent problem is that there are no adequate cost data available in a given country for making a particular decision. This is particularly true in rapidly developing and changing healthcare systems where reliable data from the past are not available to evaluate newly introduced therapies. Research experience and methods gained in the post-communist transformation of Eastern European healthcare systems can therefore be valuable to other regions as well.

During the research, the center’s staff worked with students, practicing professionals, and the internationally recognized leading authority in the field from the region to develop a simple formula that, based on costs from the region and the countries’ economic performance, can estimate missing cost data. To do this, all cost data reported from the region had to be collected and systematically analyzed. The formula provides assistance to practitioners to prepare the most accurate cost estimates possible, even with minimal data available. The research also highlights that even the most accurate estimates obtained through this method are only rough approximations in many cases, and therefore, targeted research performed with appropriate methodology should be considered for important decisions.

In digitally transforming healthcare systems, a large amount of data is generated, and modern data analysis methods can provide increasingly reliable answers to research questions. The measurement of healthcare costs requires particularly detailed and accurate data collection, as the treatment of each patient can vary greatly depending on the patient’s condition and institutional characteristics. The original announcement was published in the prestigious PharmacoEconomics journal, and can be read here.