• The University of Sheffield

Measuring and Valuing Health

Learn how Patient Reported Outcome Measures and Quality Adjusted Life Years can compare treatments and inform healthcare spending.

25,896 enrolled on this course

Medical charts and equipment
  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

How do we decide which drugs and treatments to fund?

Healthcare systems around the world are increasingly under pressure to fund drugs, treatments and other healthcare interventions.

On this course, you’ll learn how health outcome measures can help us to make more informed decisions about where to spend our limited healthcare budgets.

You can continue to learn about healthcare decision-making with our next course Health Technology Assessment (HTA): Choosing Which Treatments Get Funded.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 14 seconds The world has limited resources. It has unmet needs and healthcare is no different.

Skip to 0 minutes and 22 seconds There are millions of people around the world who require healthcare, and there are many different treatments and interventions available, but there is only a limited amount of money.

Skip to 0 minutes and 32 seconds So what do we do? We have to make choices. We cannot fund all of them. I’m Dr Katherine Stevens, a senior research fellow in the Health Economics and Decision Science section at The University of Sheffield. On this course, we will take you on a journey to understand how we can measure and value health. By doing this, we can compare the benefits of drugs and treatments in healthcare to help us make these difficult choices.

Skip to 0 minutes and 57 seconds We will look at Patient Reported Outcome Measures, or PROMs, how to develop them and how they can be used in practice. We will learn about Quality Adjusted Life Years, or QALYs, which are used around the world by decision makers to compare the benefits of different treatment options. We look in detail at how they’re calculated, and how decision makers use the information.

Skip to 1 minute and 18 seconds How can we compare the costs and benefits of treatments? How do we know which treatments give benefit? How do we measure this benefit? And importantly, how do we value this benefit?

Skip to 1 minute and 29 seconds We will invite you to join us in debating some of the key issues. For example, should it be patients or the general population who value our health, or someone else? And should we value children’s health differently? We live in a world where new drugs and treatments are being rapidly developed, the population is increasing with people living for longer, and demand is soaring. And so these choices are increasingly necessary.

Skip to 1 minute and 54 seconds Through this course, we help you understand why and how we need to measure and value health outcomes in order to make more informed decisions about how to spend our precious limited resources.

Skip to 2 minutes and 7 seconds Maybe you already use QALYs in your work. Maybe you are affected by the decisions that are made based on these. Or maybe you would like to simply understand more about them. The knowledge that you gain from this course may inspire you to think about a career in healthcare, local decision making, academia, or it may simply give you the knowledge to understand how and why choices about drugs and treatments have been made. Or you may wish to study further with us, as this is only part of the story. So join us and find out how decision makers around the world are measuring and valuing your health.

What topics will you cover?

The course focuses on two different types of measures, asking how they’re developed and calculated, and how they’re used by decision makers in practice:

  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs): which are measures completed by the patients themselves, about their health, symptoms, functioning, well-being or satisfaction with treatment.
  • Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs): which compare the benefits of different treatment options, based on the quality and quantity of life they yield.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Discuss what health means and how to measure its impact on quality of life.
  • Evaluate how to develop and use patient reported outcome measures including their limitations in decision-making.
  • Calculate QALYs in simple examples to arrive at values which can be used to compare treatment benefits.
  • Perform a time trade off to develop an understanding of how this method can be used to value health states and generate preference weights.
  • Debate who should value our health. Should it be patients, health professionals or the general public and should this be different for children’s health?
  • Compare where QALYs are used in healthcare decision-making worldwide and discuss the merits of this method compared to those used where you live.

Who is the course for?

This course will help you understand how and why choices about drugs and treatments have been made. It may inspire you to think about a career in healthcare, local decision making or academia.

You may even wish to take your learning further, with the University of Sheffield’s Masters degrees and short courses in areas such as health economics, public health and international healthcare technology assessment.

You can find out more about this subject in Dr Katherine Stevens’ post for the FutureLearn blog: “How do we make decisions in healthcare about which drugs and treatments to fund?

What do people say about this course?

"Thank you for a very well structured and presented course. The interactive elements (trying out the measures and voting) helped me think and engage more. This is a great introduction to a complex subject and has motivated me to find out more."

Covers a complex and vital subject succinctly in just three weeks.

"A really good course, covering a complex and vital subject succinctly in just 3 weeks. The wide range of methods, materials and comments from participants was a most unexpected and valuable benefit."

Who will you learn with?

I am a Health Economist at ScHARR in the University of Sheffield. My research interests are in measuring and valuing health related quality of life and well-being.

I am a Health Economist working in ScHARR at The University of Sheffield. My research interest is measuring and valuing children's health related quality of life.

Who developed the course?

The University of Sheffield

The University of Sheffield is one of the world’s top 100 universities with a reputation for teaching and research excellence.

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