Imperial College London

Imperial College Business School Professor wins international award

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Professor Carol Propper

Professor Carol Propper from Imperial College Business School has received a prestigious award for her work examining reform in health economics.

Professor Propper and two US academics have received the International Health Economics Association’s (iHEA) 25th Arrow Award, which recognises excellence in the field of health economics. 

The researchers were awarded the prize for a paper demonstrating that allowing for competition and also permitting patients to choose where they are treated substantially increased hospitals’ incentives to improve quality of healthcare. “Free to Choose? Reform, choice and consideration sets in the English National Health Service (NHS)”, was judged the best health economics paper published in 2016.

Our work has shed new light on the value of allowing patients to choose where they have their healthcare.

– Professor Carol Propper

Professor Propper and her US colleagues examined the impact of a reform in 2006 which allowed patients in England to choose among a minimum of five alternatives where they received inpatient care.

They found that once restrictions were lifted on where patients were treated, hospitals had a greater incentive to compete for patients. As well as raising standards and reducing waste, the introduction of choice and competition saved lives.

“This award is a well-deserved recognition of Carol’s (Professor Propper’s) and her co-authors’ ability to produce findings that can improve health policies worldwide, by analysing the complexities and impact of health market reform in England,” said Professor Franco Sassi, director of Imperial College Business School’s Centre for Health Economics and Policy Innovation.

Research at the centre focuses on the effects on health of people’s changing lifestyles, as well as the impact of business and government policies which are designed to promote healthier lifestyles.

Professor Propper holds a Chair in Economics in the Business School and her research specialises in the use of markets and financial incentives to improve delivery of healthcare, and other public services.

“I’m delighted to receive this recognition,” said Professor Propper. “Our work has shed new light on the value of allowing patients to choose where they have their healthcare.” Her co-authors and fellow awardees are Martin Gaynor from Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University and Stephan Seiler from Stanford University.

Professor Propper joined Imperial College Business School as Professor of Economics and Head of the Health Management Group in 2007. In the 1990s, she acted as a senior economic adviser to the NHS and has undertaken a wide range of public service activities including as Chair of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) research grants board (2005-2009) and as a member of the ESRC Council.

In 2010, she received a CBE for her services to social science. This recognised her work in public economics and the economics of healthcare, as well as work in other areas of social science. In 2014, she was elected a Fellow of the British Academy.

The iHEA award, now in its 25th year, was set up in honour of US economist and Nobel Prize winner Professor Kenneth Arrow (1921-2017) in recognition of his 1963 paper “Uncertainty and the welfare economics of medical care”.

This story was written by Helena Pozniak.

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Laura Singleton

Laura Singleton
Communications and Public Affairs

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