A photograph of pound coins

Led by Professor Elias Mossialos, this theme is working to better understand the economic burden of avoidable harm in healthcare and the cost-effectiveness of initiatives designed to improve safety.

Failures in care that could have been avoided create huge costs to health services, diverting crucial and limited resources that could have been used to help improve people’s lives and wellbeing. Yet we still don’t fully appreciate the economics of patient safety because there’s been a lack of evidence on the costs associated with unsafe care, and whether strategies to make care safer are cost-effective. Our research in this area aims to change this, and we’ll use our findings to inform future safety policy, make healthcare more efficient and encourage health systems to provide the best possible care.

Our work

We're working towards a greater understanding of the value of new approaches to reduce harm, as well as strengthening the economic case for safer care. Find out how we’re exploring the existing evidence on the value of patient safety, while also evaluating safety initiatives.

Making the case for safer healthcare

We’ve been scouring the existing literature to assess the evidence relating to cost-effectiveness in patient safety. So far, we’ve reviewed 8,500 titles and more than 1,000 academic papers on the subject. All of this work fed into a protocol we’ve published to measure developments in the scope and quality of such evidence.

Our efforts in this sphere are building the economic case for greater investment in primary care, demonstrating the benefits of more joined-up and coordinated care systems, and incentivising pay for performance in the developing world where payment is linked to quality and safety standards.

Smarter ways to predict safety incidents

Being able to accurately predict patient safety incidents could inform policies that are designed to prevent them from happening in the first place. That's why we’re examining how our health system handles situations related to patient safety, by analysing NHS incident reporting systems. This nation-wide project involves more than 300 staff from 8 hospital trusts across England. This work has helped us map and validate the processes of incident reporting systems, creating a tool that can be used in economic analysis and quality improvement in the NHS.

Our team is now developing a simulation of how information flows through this map, so that we can help better predict safety incidents and inform decision-making.

Find out more about our work that's digging into the economics of patient safety from research lead Alex Carter

Ensuring value for money in patient safety

Researcher Alex Carter discusses his work that's furthering our understanding of the economic burden of avoidable patient harm and the cost-effectiveness of safety initiatives.