The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently released an announcement outlining funding priorities for health economics research. The announcement confirms that health economics methods can be instrumental in promoting the NIH mission to improve health and is an integral part of the interdisciplinary science that NIH supports. It goes on to clarify that NIH will prioritize health economics research applications in which “health outcomes and health–related behaviors are the primary focus.” Certain health economics topics, however, are minimally related to specific health outcomes at the population or individual level and fall outside the scope of the NIH. The announcement characterizes the highest priority areas for NIH, NIH Institute- and Center-specific priority areas, and areas outside of NIH’s mission.
Highest-priority areas include health economics research designed to understand how innovations in treatment, diagnosis, prevention, and implementation strategies can be most effectively deployed to improve health and well-being, as well as research aimed at designing better interventions with these insights. Institute- and Center-specific priorities may be communicated in strategic plans and funding analyses.
Examples of areas outside of NIH’s mission include applications that improve understanding financial, labor, industrial organization or macro-economic outcomes without linking the research to health outcomes in the study’s aims; examining health care financing impact on cost but not necessarily associated with specific health outcomes; analyzing health profession economics without regard to health outcomes, access to healthcare and/or associated cost; estimating consumer price elasticity and marketing impact with a focus on profitability rather than healthcare quality or outcomes; and assessing cost and efficiency of healthcare service delivery in which cost is the primary factor without considering clinical outcomes or quality of care.
CHERISH will continue to follow NIH guidance on health economics priorities and its impact on funding of health economic research related to substance use disorder, HCV, and HIV.