What is Health Economist Career for Clinicians?

Who is a Health Economist? Why should more clinicians pursue this career? Health economics is a rapidly growing field of study that combines economics and healthcare. According to the Encyclopaedia of Behavioural Medicine, “Health economics applies the principles of economics to address problems of health and healthcare. It identifies the factors that contribute to the health of individuals and populations and identifies the most productive ways of using whatever resources are available for improving health.”

Graduates from the best Indian medical colleges are choosing Health Economics. If you’re wondering after MBBS which course you should pursue, read on to find out what is a Health Economics career. Could it be the right choice for you?

Understanding what is Health Economist’s importance

It is a field that involves the systematic and rigorous examination of issues faced in promoting universal health. Therefore, by applying economic theories of consumer, producer, and social selection, health economics aims to know the behaviour of people, health care providers, public and private organisations, and governments in decision-making.

What is health economist’s role in society?

Health Economics is used to promote healthy lifestyles and positive health outcomes through the study of healthcare providers like hospitals and clinics. The good news is that doctors with a flair for economics and business will make great Health Economists too.

What does a health economist do?

A Health Economist examines the allocation of resources in a healthcare facility, community, or country. As a result, this examination helps to decide the best way to deliver healthcare services in a cost-effective and efficient manner. Therefore, it gives the Health Economist an opportunity to work for the greater good as far as health is concerned.

Contributing to the greater good

Would you wish to contribute to a far better organization of healthcare services in your community? Moreover, would you like to work on improving the low health insurance rates in developing countries? Do you wish to contribute to the discourse about which drugs and treatments should the public healthcare system finance? Lastly, would you wish to use economic and quantitative skills to achieve this? 

Health economics can be the answer to the question – after MBBS which course can I pursue that can create a meaningful impact on the healthcare system? In this case, a career in health economics offers a very good opportunity for practising doctors who tick the boxes to the above questions. Many doctors feel that they are in dead-end jobs because of the long work hours and poor work-life balance. The solution to these problems, however, can be a switch to the non-clinical path.

Job opportunities

The field of health economics offers a plethora of job opportunities. One can get into jobs in international agencies like the World Health Organisation and the World Bank, academic research institutions, and private firms. However, one of the most important employers of Health Economists is the government, particularly in countries that have centralized healthcare.  

Another option is to work as a consultant within the healthcare field. Here, a consultant advises corporate firms in managing their health insurance benefits for employees. But big healthcare corporations hire in-house economists for advice on specific products or services. In addition, they play a role in technology procurement and systematic financial decisions made at the corporate level. There is additionally the opportunity to work in academia. This option is perfect for clinicians that have enjoyed their university experience and also present a passion for research.

Physicians and consultants have one major similarity – the ability to identify problems and recommend solutions. Therefore, making Health Economics a fitting career for doctors.

What is health economist's demand around the world?

Health Economist jobs are currently in high demand around the world. This is a result of the healthcare industry’s recent attention to waste reduction with profit increment. A simple search on job sites with ‘Health Economist’ in the search string will throw up hundreds of opportunities worldwide. In addition, the salaries are good too. 

So what can a health economist expect to earn?

According to salary.com, the salary range for a Health Economist in the United States is from around $85,600 to $108,000 a year. Likewise, the average base salary for a Health Economist in India, according to glassdoor.com is ₹540,000 a year.

After MBBS which courses can you do right here, in India? 

New doctors graduating from the best Indian medical colleges can now choose to enter the world of Health Economics in their home country. A master’s degree in health economics is offered by the top two colleges in India, Manipal Academy of Higher Education and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). This is a first-of-its-kind comprehensive two-year programme, however, only an offline mode of study is available for it now. Anyone with a bachelor’s degree in health sciences is eligible to apply for this course. 

TISS has only 23 seats with a course fee of ₹31,000. Those intending to join the course may get help from those who have already completed the programme. The programme was created in collaboration with the prestigious London School of Economics. The programme will have an international focus and teaching would cover literature from across the globe with a specific focus on South East Asia and India.

Lastly, the other programme is offered by the Manipal Academy of Higher Education. In this programme, students pay a higher fee. However, the institution offers scholarship opportunities. Here, a statement of purpose is required, followed by an interview round. They promise an average starting salary of ₹4,00,000 a year

Lastly, let’s look at what is Health Economist’s Job titles

Some of the job titles in the field of health economics are Research Lead, Health Economics and Outcomes Director, Health Economics; Expert Scientific Writer; Advisor, Health Financing; and Project Manager, Health Financing.

Making the career switch after MBBS

Why should a doctor leave his clinical practice and switch to a career in health economics? The reasons are quite a few. 

Many doctors go into MBBS intending to spend their careers in patient care until retirement. Most do, but some are left wondering after MBBS which course they can pursue outside the clinical realm. In addition, the dearth of medical seats compounds these numbers.

Clinical jobs are stressful and repetitive, involve long routines, and leave little scope for family time, rest, vacations, and pursuing personal advancement goals. 

A non-clinical role in health economics presents a wonderful opportunity for doctors looking for alternative careers and the attendant lifestyle and work-life balance that they provide. In addition, they provide bonus of better pay packets, avoiding litigation arising from allegations of medical malpractice, and the opportunity to contribute to the framing of policies that improve healthcare in the community.

In conclusion, the answer to what is Health Economist and all its various roles and benefits have been outlined in this article. So, what’s stopping you? Explore courses in health economics, identify the right one and enroll. After MBBS which course you must take could not be made easier. In other words, arm yourself with the qualification and make that rewarding switch to a career in health economics. 

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