The role of Health Economics has become increasingly important for a number of reasons, including pressure on health resources, the need to demonstrate economic implications within translation, the increasing array of technological interventions and an empowered consumer. Economic tools provide the means to address resource allocation consistently and explicitly for fair and transparent distribution.
Within Western Australia, capacity has been slowly building in recent years, although there is still a considerable shortage of skilled health economists. The development of the Western Australian Health Translation Network (WAHTN) has served to encourage collaboration across institutions to maximise capabilities and build strong networks. WAHTN has aided the health economics sector in WA by facilitating collaboration across institutions to maximise capabilities and by developing programs and initiatives to raise awareness about the role health economics plays.
A notable outcome has been the establishment of WATCHE (Western Australian Translation and Collaboration in Health Economics) where membership from all institutions across WA is encouraged. Founded through a strong collaboration between Curtin University and the University of Western Australia (UWA) (Suzanne Robinson and Elizabeth Geelhoed) and housed under the WAHTN banner, the alliance has grown to encompass representation from across the WA research community (including Curtin University, UWA, Murdoch University, Telethon Kids Institute).
The mission of WATCHE is to provide a platform to support capacity building in health economics through research, teaching and knowledge transfer. With the support of WAHTN the group have been successful in hosting the national health economics conference 2016; delivering a number of workshops and training opportunities; and supporting the inaugural Curtin Health Economics cluster meeting, which included international speakers and presentations from WATCHE early career researchers. WATCHE members undertake research at state, national and international levels and support evidence generation that can inform policy and clinical practice across the health system.
While the lack of resources in this area remains a barrier to the breadth required for optimal research input, the cooperation currently manifest will enable robust development through the encouragement of PhD students and further education in health economics. The WATCHE collaboration maximises locally available breadth and depth in expertise (which is vital in this rapidly expanding field) and the strong commitment to international partnerships ensures global relevance.