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Elin Spegel
Elin Spegel, Post Doctor of Economics at Luleå University of Technology. Photo: Melina Granberg View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Health economics broadens the research field at LTU

Published: 3 May 2018

Luleå University of Technology is expanding its research within the field of economics through a cooperation with Region Norrbotten. During the next two years Elin Spegel, Post Doctor of Economics, will focus on research in health economics. – For example, potential projects may include valuing new methods for stroke treatment, new technical solutions or screening, says Elin Spegel.

There are many ways to promote health and prevent illnesses, and technological and medical advancements make it possible for more people to live longer, while society’s health care costs are increasing. Health economics is about evaluating which health care efforts that can provide the best possible health for the population, based on available resources, and can be used for prioritization between treatments and preventive measures. Health economic analysis can for example evaluate whether the costs of new medical methods or medicines are proportionate to the health benefits they give.

– In addition to funding, Region Norrbotten will contribute with potential projects and data, while I will contribute with the economic analysis. The projects will be designed in cooperation with Region Norrbotten and it is an opportunity for them to build up their expertise in health economics. For Luleå University of Technology it is a chance to broaden the research field in economics.

In a health economic analysis, two or more alternatives regarding costs and health effects are compared. The costs may consist of resource utilization of healthcare and medicines, but also of sick leave and reduced ability to work. Health effects can for example be measured with QALY (Quality Adjusted Lifetime Years). There also exists other methods for calculating changes in quality of life, but all of them are based on the patient´s self-evaluation of their state of health. By calculating the cost per changed QALY, different treatment methods can be compared.

– Region Norrbotten will be able to use the research results from this collaboration to prioritize between alternative treatment methods. I hope that this will lead to the residents in the county receiving more care for their money. When county councils prioritize healthcare, resource efficiency is one of three principles. Needs and solidarity, as well as human value, must also be weighed in. So, residents in the county need not be worried that, for example, patient groups with great needs will be given lower priority even if the cost proves to be high, Elin Spegel concludes.


Elin Spegel

Elin Spegel,

Phone: +46 (0)920 492927
Organisation: Social Sciences, Department of Social Sciences, Technology and Arts