The economics of chronic disease and hospital care

Deakin University

Tuesday, 10 October, 2017

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The increasing prevalence of chronic disease impacts significantly on all health care systems worldwide, with ongoing consequences for funders, service providers and the communities they serve. This is especially so for the hospital sector, where impacts are particularly high.

Despite the increasing prevalence of chronic disease, health systems are characterised by reactive management to the acute exacerbation of established disease. Funding models and the preference of individuals for ‘a quick fix’ promote acute hospital, medical care and pharmaceutical management, rather than primary and secondary disease prevention.

Improving efficiency in the acute management of chronic disease has been a focus of the research of Jenny Watts for the last 20 years, and on moving to Deakin Health Economics (DHE) in 2013, she started the research stream in the Economics of Chronic Disease and Hospital Care. The focus of this research has been about understanding where the disease burden lies for specific diseases (e.g. osteoporosis and Parkinson’s disease); how efficiency in hospital care can be improved in areas of rehabilitation, cognitive impairment, medical emergency teams, diagnostic error and non-admitted patient services; technology-based interventions to find substitutes for hospitalisation (such as telehealth and remote patient monitoring); and exploring alternative funding models to improve efficiency through payment incentives.

Actively collaborating with researchers from other disciplines, hospital managers, policy-makers, and clinicians across many projects, Deakin’s team of health economics researchers are expert in the analysis of case-level hospital data, including costing data, Medicare data and self-reported data. A recent evaluation of a remote tele-monitoring intervention provided insights into the value of ongoing support and self-managed care for people with diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, including both savings in hospitalisation and improvement in health related quality of life.

In 2017, Deakin Health Economics will celebrate 10 years of excellence in teaching and research. Right from the start, the important linkage between research and teaching was part of DHE’s mandate. The teaching program commenced with introductory units in health economics and economic evaluation that were offered as core, selective or optional units across the existing postgraduate health programs in the School of Health and Social Development.

The role and contribution of health economics to the teaching program was further recognised in 2014, with a significant upgrading of our offerings to include a Masters in Health Economics (MHE). Deakin’s 16 unit MHE program was approved in 2014, with teaching commencing in 2015. The course now has an enrolment of 40 students from a wide range of countries and backgrounds.

For more information about Deakin’s suite of postgraduate courses in public health, health and human services management, health economics and health promotion, go to

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