Reflections on the first Scottish Health Economics meeting

It’s been just over one month since the official launch of Scottish Health Economics (SHE) at Discovery Point in Dundee.  Set up by the Health Economics Research Unit (HERU) in Aberdeen (find out more about SHE here), “SHE seeks to act as a vehicle for widening engagement with health economics in Scotland, bringing together users and producers of health economics who are interested in the development and application of health economics in Scotland. All activities will draw on the extensive experience and expertise Scotland offers in health economics” (SHE Terms of Reference, 2018).

Since the launch of SHE on the 3rd of October, we’ve had time to reflect and it’s safe to say we are more excited than ever about the future for health economics research in Scotland! In this post, we reflect on the event and highlight some of the take home messages.

Overview of the day

The tone for the day was set by Mandy Ryan, Director of HERU, who gave an enthusiastic welcome to all SHE participants. From this point onwards, the health economics energy in the room was palpable!

Next up, Rachel Baker, Professor of Health Economics at Glasgow Caledonian University, provided an overview of health economics research in Scotland. Of noticeable interest was the useful maps she had prepared, pin pointing where us health economists, both within academic and governmental institutions, are hiding. Although Stirling was left out of the picture (Seda Erdem and colleagues quick off the mark to rectify that!), the map surprised everyone in the room as to the sheer numbers of health economists and other bodies contributing to health economics research going on in Scotland.


© Prof Rachel Baker

Following Rachel’s introduction, Marjon van der Pol, Deputy Director of HERU, talked about capacity building in health economics, and strategies for attracting the next generation of health economists.

The rest of the day was packed with excellent presentations (and a delicious lunch) from academics across the SHE community on a number of interesting health economics research questions, with reflections from the policy community including the Scottish Government, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, NHS Education Scotland and NHS Health Scotland. The academic presentations included our own Research Assistant, Alistair Bullen, who gave an elevator presentation on the use of PACE Statements as source of qualitative secondary data to inform attribute selection in discrete choice experiments.

Whilst all of these presentations were extremely interesting and really showcased the wealth of health economics research going on in Scotland, perhaps the most constructive part of the day was the afternoon breakout sessions (where I think we all agreed we could have spent all day!). The sessions allowed for the opportunity to discuss what we want to get out of SHE, including activities, training, funding opportunities, and the possibility of an annual meeting.

Prof Cam Donaldson summed up the day perfectly in his closing remarks, commenting on the unmistakable enthusiasm that charged the room throughout the event.

Take home messages

As a group, we believe that the SHE network offers a starting point for collaborations with other health economics researchers in Scotland that we can build on going forward. Simply knowing and being aware of the research going on in Scotland is in itself useful to identify who holds expertise in a particular area. At the same time, SHE will allow links to form between academic researchers and the policy community, ensuring that Scottish health economics research is contributing in the issues that matter most to the people of Scotland.

Overall, we felt that the take home message from the day was really the unique position that Scotland is in and the potential that exists for collaborative work between and across academic institutions and government.

We recently completed the SHE event survey so we will wait to see the outcome of that and very much look forward to seeing how SHE develops and contributing to the networking potential that SHE offers.

EHE would like to thank all of the organisers and presenters who made the day worthwhile!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *