What a good question. Thank you for asking. In fact, I see several important issues that you raise all at once.
1. Absolutely agree that iHEA can do more to increase the level of engagement with and between ALL members. And it is very gratifying to see that multiple steps are already being taken in that direction. I strongly believe that the recent initiatives, such as invitation to start Special Interests Groups, opening these forums, and many others, are indicators that iHEA is listening, and will be using ideas and input from members to define its future direction and scope of work.
2. In my view, the best approach to address the particular question that you raise, maximizing the value of iHEA to non-academic members, would be to ask you, a valuable stakeholder who has already expressed interested in this, to consider building a dedicated team of iHEA members who share the same passion - to submit a proposal to establish a Special Interests Group (SIG) for non-academic members. The exact name (and scope) would obviously be completely up to you. The reminder with the submission guidelines and suggested structure of the proposal was sent out just recently, and the submission process doesn’t seem to be overly onerous.
Starting this SIG, growing its membership and engaging members in meaningful discussions, could by itself address many of the concerns that you voiced. And if not, it would be a good start in that direction. What I see as the very important next step is that it would be up to this group then to come up with recommendations about what exactly they’d like iHEA to do for them, as well as how the group can help iHEA to achieve its mission.
3. Again, completely agree with you regarding the objective #2 “Foster a higher standard of debate in the application of economics to health and health care systems”. I believe, more can be done by iHEA to explore and promote pathways to increase awareness about the value of health economists’ research among medical/clinical community and policy makers. Thus, increasing the visibility of our profession, applicability of results, and demand for health economists along the way. Creating a SIG dedicated to the exploration of this issue would be a good start, in my opinion. I personally would be very interested to contribute to that discussion, as multiple observations throughout my career have led me to similar conclusions.
To summarize, I see Board members’ role as dedicated facilitators of this process. iHEA members are the most important stakeholders of this organization. The communications lines have been opened to listen to the members, and now it is up to the members to craft and suggest the new ways of how iHEA should live up to its mission, or even update its mission as necessary, to keep up with changing times. And the Board’s job would be to simply to assist you to make that happen.