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The value of early-stage health economic models – an interview with Elizabeth Thurgar

By 17/11/2021 No Comments
The value of early-stage health economic models - an interview with Elizabeth Thurgar - Director, Health Economics

Elizabeth Thurgar recently joined Mtech Access as a Director in our Health Economics team. In this interview, she tells us about her experiences and activities in her first few weeks with us. She also shares her interest in developing health economic models to support the development of early-stage compounds and her passion for de-mystifying technical models for a non-technical audience.

What led you to pursue a career in health economics?

My background is in Economics: I have a BSc Economics from Nottingham University and an MSc Economics (Commerce) from the University of Melbourne. I knew early on that I didn’t want to follow a route into finance or banking like many of my contemporaries, but I wasn’t exactly sure where to apply the economic skills I’d learnt. Fortunately for me, I took some Health Economic modules during my undergraduate degree, and I knew straight away that Health Economics was a great fit for me. It allowed me to apply my economic skills in a setting where meaningful changes to people’s health and wellbeing was possible.

After a short period working as a Government Economist, I made the move into Health Economics in 2008 and now have around 10 years’ experience as a Health Economist in a Consultancy setting, and around 3 years’ experience working for the BMJ-TAG, one of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Assessment Groups. I have also subsequently completed a MSc Health Economics at City University.

My work in consultancy has involved building models, writing technical reports and submissions, managing teams and leading projects. At the BMJ-TAG, my role was to critique manufacturer submissions for Single Technology Appraisals and to develop Multiple Technology Appraisals.

Is there an area of health economics which particularly interests you?

I’m passionate about making technical analyses understandable to a non-technical audience. In my view, even the most complex models don’t have to be a black box. Understanding what is going on behind the results is essential in interpreting and explaining the benefits of a therapy. I enjoy working with clients on bespoke internal training and ensuring that any model or supporting model documentation is clear, transparent and logical.

I also believe that early economic modelling can add a huge amount of value when considering early-stage assets and have a special interest in these kinds of models. Early economic models are useful to support go or no-go decisions. They can also help to identify what data gaps exist for the disease area or product to inform what data needs to be collected in the future. Ultimately, this early insight helps to ensure delivery of robust analyses needed for reimbursement, later down the line.

What motivated you to join Mtech Access?

Health Economics is a small world and I’ve been lucky enough to work with many people from Mtech Access over the years. As such, when I was ready to embrace a new challenge in my career, I was in a fortunate position to know that the environment cultivated at Mtech Access would be friendly, collaborative and ego-less, and focused on delivering excellent work for our clients.

What have you got involved with in your first few weeks at Mtech Access?

The first few weeks have been a mix of introductory meetings and getting up to speed on project work.

I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with old colleagues and meeting new ones. In particular, I’m excited to learn more about the NHS Insights & Interaction team, and the insights they can offer to our clients.

In terms of project work, I’ve spent some time getting up to speed in order to support a model adaptation of an existing cost-effectiveness analysis and the development of two budget impact models for a rare disease. I’m looking forward to getting established on projects and speaking with clients.

What has surprised you about Mtech Access?

I don’t think there have been any big surprises. As a home-based, part-time worker, it was great to see the range of locations from which we work, including offices in Bicester, Cambridge, London, Manchester, Newcastle, and York, and how well we are set up with our IT infrastructure.

You mentioned earlier you studied in Melbourne – did you enjoy your time in Australia?

Yes, I really enjoyed living in Melbourne. I studied for a MSc Economics (Commerce) there when I was in my early 20’s. It was a great experience and I’m glad I had the opportunity to travel around Australia.

When you are not at work, what do you like to do?

I have two children, aged 4 and 7, who take up a fair amount of my time. When I’m not running around after them, I enjoy yoga, painting and writing.

To find out more about our approach to health economic evaluation and modelling email info@mtechaccess.co.uk.

If you are interested in joining our team at Mtech Access, please visit our careers page for details of our current vacancies.

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