Health economics is a discipline within economics that is used to analyse and assess the costs and impact of the use of resources within the health and social care services.
Impact usually refers to the number of life years or quality adjusted life years, but other outcomes are also possible. Health economic assessments provide important data to prioritise alternative public health initiatives and preventative measures with the aim of clarifying which alternative results in the best possible health for the population given the resources available.
The Public Health Agency of Sweden, for instance, uses health economics to prioritise alternative treatments and preventive measures in a variety of subject areas. Health economic assessments are central when assessing whether new vaccines should be included in national vaccination programmes, i.e. whether the cost of the vaccine is reasonable in relation to its health benefits. Health economics is used as a resource within method support when designing new studies.