Health economic analysis: a tool to determine how to use limited resources

Resources are never unlimited. Whenever a particular health strategy, intervention or treatment is funded and implemented there are often alternative approaches that are being discarded. In healthcare, deciding which approach to take could determine if more lives are saved or if the quality of a patient’s life is improved or not. It is therefore essential that healthcare decision-makers are able to make a well-informed decision of whether or not to introduce a certain strategy, intervention, or treatment.

What is health economic analysis?

Health economic analysis is an important tool to help inform healthcare decision makers which strategy, intervention, or treatment is the best value for money. Health economics utilises to understand and explain how people make decisions regarding their health behaviours and healthcare consumption. Furthermore, it provides a framework for society on how to use limited health resources to meet the demand or need for healthcare services, health promotion and prevention.

Establishing the cost-effectiveness of a new healthcare intervention

Health economic analysis can be used to estimate the cost-effectiveness of a strategy, intervention, or treatment studied within a clinical trial. Typically, a randomised controlled trial will compare two different treatments or interventions, for example, an existing treatment to a new innovative treatment. Health economic analysis will look at the cost and the effectiveness of the two treatments. Relevant measures of effectiveness, and which costs to include in the analysis, differ depending on the type of disease, type of treatment, where the treatment would be provided, and what the decision-makers wish to include in these types of analyses.

The result, the cost-effectiveness of a certain intervention compared to its alternative, can then be used to decide whether or not to introduce a new treatment into healthcare practice.

Cost-effectiveness of the Bump2Baby and Me mHealth Coaching Programme

The Bump2Baby and Me randomised controlled trial is testing an innovative healthcare intervention, the Bump2Baby and Me mHealth Coaching Programme compared to usual care. This programme provides women with evidence-based healthy eating and exercise information, both during pregnancy and for the first year after birth, via a smartphone app and real-life health coach.

A cost-effectiveness analysis will be undertaken during 2023-24 to evaluate the costs and health outcomes of the Bump2Baby and Me intervention compared with usual care. The results from the analysis will serve as a foundation for healthcare policymakers in deciding whether or not to implement the intervention in healthcare practice for pregnant women at risk of gestational diabetes. More specifically, the analysis will inform about the value of the intervention within the publicly funded health and social care systems across Ireland, the UK, Spain, and Australia.

Further details will be available on the project website later in 2024.

By Laura Pirhonen Nørmark



The cost-effective analysis work is being done by Laura Pirhonen Nørmark and Karsten Vrangbæk at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.