Message from the Director

In the past six months everyone at the Centre for Health Economics has been directly affected by local and global environmental, health and economic shocks. Both the bushfires and then the novel coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone’s lives - what we do and how we work at the Centre. The public and private response to these shocks and their long-term effects on health, wellbeing and economic activity in Australia and globally are core research concerns of the Centre for Health Economics and it will no doubt affect many of our future research programs.

In this short time, we have adapted very well to the changed work environment as we all moved to working from home. The transition to this new form of working was facilitated by the fantastic efforts of our administrative staff who along with Monash IT quickly organised technology for all those who needed it at home including our PhD students. We all learned to Zoom effectively, and thanks to Umair Khalil and Johannes Kunz, our seminar program has quickly become virtual and expanded in number and reach to include numerous live presentations from Europe and North America with an audience beyond the CHE.

Our research has continued and our research students have remained active. We have developed our current research (focussed in the last year on the economics of mental health and wellbeing, risky behaviours and the evaluation of health policy), but also begun to consider the needs and opportunities for high quality, valuable research in the economics of health and health care in the next few years.

The shocks in 2020 raise a number of questions that the Centre’s research can help to answer.

In the short term, we have summarised some of the best of our work on the relationship between economic activity and mental health, and its direct relevance for the COVID-19 outlook in a special page on our CHE website. Our researchers have also produced some commentary published on the Monash Business School Impact website.

In the medium term, we are part of a number of surveys of individual experience during the pandemic associated with changes in work and social distancing measures as well as continuing research in patient and provider economic aspects of remote delivery of health care – a feature of 2020 that may continue in the future.

In the longer term, how will the interaction between economic policy, economic activity, and health impact on the future health and wellbeing of populations? What policy options are likely to be cost effective in modifying that impact for the better?

The last, but far from least news in this newsletter edition, is our tribute to Professor Richard Scotton, the renowned health economist and former Monash colleague who passed away in October 2019. Professor Jeff Richardson published a warm Vale to Dick who was an inspiration to many at the Centre.

Professor Anthony Harris
Director, Centre for Health Economics