In association with

  • Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board
  • West of England Academic Health Science Network
  • National Institute for Health Research

A guide to economic evaluation

Purpose of the guide

The aim of this guide is to introduce economic evaluation concepts and show how they can be used to demonstrate the impact of healthcare interventions. The guide presents ways in which the value of an intervention can be explored and interpreted. Please note that this should not be viewed as a how-to guide to build a health economic model, but an overview of how health economics can be used to illustrate the value of an intervention and what key elements should be considered.

Introduction to key concepts

What is health economics?

Health economics is a branch of economics which evaluates issues that relate to effectiveness, efficiency and value as a whole within health and social care. Health economics informs decision-making by prioritising resources to help improve efficiency in the healthcare system and help patients to live longer and healthier lives.  

Why is health economics important?

Health economics is used in evaluations to compare two or more health interventions on the basis on their costs and outcomes. Outputs of health economic evaluations can assist in determining which interventions deliver value for money for the healthcare system and are worth investing in, as illustrated below.

Scarcity of resources

Increasing demand

Increasing number of intervention options

  • What interventions shall we commission?
  • How shall we implement them?
  • Who shall receive them?


Inform decision making by qualifying expected health benefits and costs; and the uncertainty around them

The content of this introduction to economic evaluation has been prepared by Unity Insights who offer bespoke analytics and evaluation services to the NHS, the AHSN Network, academia, innovators and industry.