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Candidate question - maximising the value of iHEA for non-academic members
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11/8/2017 at 6:39:00 AM GMT
Posts: 3
Candidate question - maximising the value of iHEA for non-academic members

Hi Candidates!


Thank you all for standing first of all.  So a question to get you started which has troubled me somewhat throughout my membership of HEA  over many years.  iHEA's mission is to: 

  1. Increase communication among health economists;
  2. Foster a higher standard of debate in the application of economics to health and health care systems; and
  3. Assist young researchers at the start of their careers

Only objective 3 is exclusively (and perfectly reasonably) about academic health economists.  Yet my experience as a long-standing member who has worked for government over most of my career (and membership) is that iHEA is overwhelmingly just an academic society which struggles to offer much to us minority members out in the policy world beyond the opportunity to join our academic colleagues at conferences.   Indeed, I was once advised by a former office holder (who shall remain nameless) that I could not stand for office as I was not a "senior scholar".

So here's my question:

How would you, if elected, go about making iHEA more relevant to its non-academic members, as a means of delivering more effectively on objectives 1 and 2 of its mission?

Look forward to hearing from you!


11/8/2017 at 8:26:12 AM GMT
Posts: 1
Hi Martin,
thanks for popping the cherry and asking the first question! I was in academia for 15 years and left two years ago to join the Office of Health Economics. We are a charitable research organisation but we also do consultancy. A lot of what we do is undertaking projects for clients (govt, industry, third sector) to engage/educate their stakeholders (govt, industry, third sector, public/patients). I've learnt a lot about the 'real world' of health economics in these last two years. One of the reasons I'm standing is to help the association become broader. I'm acutely aware that there aren't enough academic jobs for all PhD graduates. I think if we don't show early career researchers (who aren't always young!) the different sectors and settings and how health economics works in each (or indeed doesn't work) then we'd be failing on objective 3. I'd like the association to engage more across sectors; how can an economics project/article have impact (proper impact not just high cites) if it doesn't engage will policy makers/practioners. How can the association do this? A good place to start would be with the association's non-academic members like you (and me). iHEA will have to change the way we communicate and what we communicate in order to engage with them more effectively (and perhaps even increase membership). We will have to stop academics merely debating with themselves (as entertaining as that is) and have broader discussions. Conference plenary speakers could be from NGOs or govt departments. Outside of conferences we could support mentoring schemes, pairing academics with non-academics, I suspect both would learn a lot.

I hope this provides food for thought.


11/8/2017 at 2:37:13 PM GMT
Posts: -3
Hi Martin,

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.

11/8/2017 at 11:44:29 PM GMT
Posts: 3
Fantastic, thank you both! In the interests of fairness, I should note that I can see Paula's name and photo, but for some reason I can't see on the thread who the second response is from (no name or picture). You've gone a long way to getting my vote, now I just need to know who you are!

Thanks again

11/9/2017 at 2:49:42 AM GMT
Posts: 1
Oh, thank you for bringing this up!
The 2nd reply above is from Maia Platt. Not sure why my name is not showing by my post - my apologies. I'll work with Nicole tomorrow to hopefully fix that:)
Thank you very much for your patience. And for starting this important discussion.


Maia Platt

Last edited Thursday, November 9, 2017
11/11/2017 at 9:11:46 AM GMT
Posts: 1

I regret not having yet met you at a iHEA event in the past. My experiences as a leader of special interest groups for non-academic members of other societies (e.g. ISPOR) has certainly led me to believe that this gap can be filled. In a similar manner, I believe iHEA can certainly benefit from a similar system of SIGs and they are already attempting to do so. I have experienced both sides of the fence in terms of the academic and non-academic world as a long time member of iHEA and certainly have benefited from the opportunity to have worked with all levels of researchers. I trust the same experience will benefit members such as yourself.

Kind regards,


11/15/2017 at 9:07:44 PM GMT
Posts: 1
Dear Martin,

Thanks for reaching out to the candidates. Paula, Maia and Carl made excellent suggestions on how to increase IHEA's engagement with its non-academic members. In addition to their suggestions, I would also be supportive of a newsletter initiative that brings together academic and non-academic members. Each issue, for example, could highlight a specific topic with an academic member summarizing the research frontier and a non-academic member providing a description of the latest policy debate. We clearly need cooperation among the two groups to make an impact on society. Thanks again for raising this question.


11/19/2017 at 11:23:29 PM GMT
Posts: 1

Hi Martin

We’ve met at a workshop I organised in Melbourne last year! Thank for you raising very important points. 

I couldn’t agree more that iHEA could and should do much more to serve its non-academic members. Having previously worked in government (Australian Department of Health), I appreciate there is a real need for more relevance, communication and opportunities for members in the policy world.

I think it is the role of Board members to engage with and to assist members so that iHEA can continue to grow into an organisation that is of value to each of our members. I think starting a special interest group for non-academic or more policy oriented members would be an excellent way forward, and I would be very interested in helping to contribute to this and to facilitate discussions to help develop alternative ways that iHEA can support you and the issues you raise.

Nicole Black

11/22/2017 at 9:00:55 PM GMT
Posts: 1
Engaging professional health economists

Hi, Martin,

We have also met, many years ago - perhaps as part of the London Health Economics Consortium? 

I've been involved for many years in running a research consortium that explicitly aims to conduct research that influences policy and practice:  this often means engaging government economists to identify research priorities, working with them to access data, and also interacting to ensure that we're producing results that are timely and in a form that is useful to them.  All this to say that I recognise the different interests and needs of those economists who are working in the real world. 

I think the suggestions of special interest groups and newsletters are excellent as ways of supporting greater interaction among this group.  In fact, I've just been to a meeting where we discussed the value of networks linking government economists working in low- and middle income settings, as a way of encouraging sharing of evidence about policy change.  However, I'd also like to see more engagement between academic and government economists - so I think we can also revisit the format of the congress and explore options more effectively support dialogue between professional economists and those working in university settings, for example in plenary debates and as discussants in sessions.

These are exactly the sorts of member-driven concerns that the Board should be addressing. So thank you very much for your question!

All best wishes,




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