What is your role within ESCAPE?

I am assessing the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of ESCAPE’s intervention through statistical analysis with Dr Tim Friede at UMG (WP5 Leader). Specifically, I am conducting a health economic analysis or cost-effectiveness analysis of ESCAPE’s blended-collaborative care (BCC) intervention alongside my colleagues at the Institute of Health Economics and Clinical Epidemiology (IGKE) in Cologne, Germany.

What led you to ESCAPE?

After completing my undergrad & master’s degrees in health economics at the University of Cologne, I worked on a nationally-funded health services project on integrated psycho-oncological care. The project, ‘new form of care ‘integrated, cross-sectoral psycho-oncology’ (nFC-isPO)’, aimed to provide a high-quality, needs-based care programme for cancer patients struggling with mental illness. My role was to develop, implement and evaluate an appropriate quality management system for this new form of care, to ensure the delivery of high-quality care across the German healthcare sectors.

I really enjoy working on ‘real-life’ projects. As I was involved in all aspects of quality management in my previous project, I was keen to gain new professional experiencein health economics and gain a new perspective beyond quality management, therefore ESCAPE is an exciting opportunity for me. With ESCAPE being implemented in six countries, it’s providing a great opportunity to learn about the similarities and differences in the various healthcare systems.

How does health economics come into play in the ESCAPE project?

To examine the economic impact of the intervention effectively, we are assessing it from a payer perspective across the eleven study sites in our six countries. In order to do this assessment, we require comprehensive cost data associated with the intervention. This cost data includes the personnel costs (i.e., additional time spent by physicians or care managers during the intervention) and the medical costs (i.e., the patients’ use of healthcare services).

The main challenge in a cross-country analysis lies primarily in the differences in the billing systems, for example, different countries have different costs for salaries or services. Making these costs comparable requires high attention to detail to ensure there is a uniform collection and high-quality processing of the data collected.

Although the ESCAPE BCC intervention may increase initial costs, we anticipate that the intervention will reduce future healthcare costs by preventing medical complications or hospitalisations and reducing avoidable hospital visits. This analysis is an important step to say for sure either way.

Why do you think ESCAPE is an important project? Why do you feel passionate about this project?

In terms of good quality of care, healthcare for the patient needs to be (among other things) needs-based, accessible, effective and coordinated. In this regard, elderly, multimorbid and mentally distressed patients and their informal carers can greatly benefit from structured and integrated care programs with clear responsibilities and treatment pathways. I believe that the ESCAPE BCC intervention can address these challenges. As a younger scientist, this is an exciting project and I am happy to be working with so many interesting international people with different perspectives and backgrounds.