Why and How Did Health Economics Appear? Who Were the Main Authors? What is the Role of ITCs in its Development?

Why and How Did Health Economics Appear? Who Were the Main Authors? What is the Role of ITCs in its Development?

Ana Pinto Borges, Erika Laranjeira
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8468-3.ch074
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Over the past sixty years, developed countries have registered high growth of total expenditure on health, which has attracted the attention of health economists, organizations, and policymakers alike. At the same time, the authors observe the increasingly important role of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), not only in improving diagnosis and treatment and the quality of information, but also in the growth of these expenditures. According to this scenario, the authors focus on the development of Health Economics as an autonomous branch within Economics, highlighting not only its origin and the leading authors that began to write about it, but also the impact and the role of the development of ICTs on Health Economics and healthcare.
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1. The Origin Of Health Economics And The Leading Authors

Issues related with the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of the health sector and, especially, with the level of costs have been frequent themes in the political agendas of different countries. The growing trend verified in health expenditure attracted the attention of different personalities in the area, with the aim of understanding the underlying causes of this apparent out-of-control spiraling growth (Mehrotra et al., 2003) and also to give some answers to control such phenomenon.

This phenomenon also began to attract the attention of some organizations (such as the Institute of Economic Affairs3 in London and the Ford Foundation4), as well as the concern of policymakers. Their special concerns were not over the fact that the costs were high but mainly because the steady upward spiral did not seem to have an end in sight.

Essentially, the growth in health spending in most of industrialized countries5, not only in terms of consumption of national resources but also in global terms, i.e. in terms of public spending and its inherent market frictions began after the World War II. Some works done in the area (Cutler 1995, Okunade and Murthy 2002, Matteo 2005, among others) attribute large part of the growth observed in health spending to the advances in medical knowledge (new medical procedures and drugs), to the introduction of new and sophisticated technology (the initial expense and installations costs for the new equipment is often high), and to the changes occurred in management dogmas and political beliefs.

According to forecast studies developed by Cutler (1995) and Newhouse (1992), the emergence of new medical technologies and services and their adoption were the principle responsible of such growth, contributing roughly by half of the increase verified in healthcare expenditures in the past decades6.

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