What did you do before joining Costello Medical?
I graduated with a Masters degree in Applied Economics from the National University of Singapore (NUS). I then gained extensive experience in my role as a Research Assistant at Duke-NUS Medical School. Here, my research with the Lien Centre for Palliative Care focussed on investigating the impact of advanced care planning on the treatment preferences of patients.
I was eager to use my skills and expertise outside of an academic setting and Costello Medical provided a fantastic opportunity to do this.
What do you like best about your role as Health Economist at Costello Medical?
I enjoy the problem-solving aspect of my role the most. My modelling projects provide plenty of this and the fact that our clients really value our strategic and technical advice allows me more autonomy in my work. Additionally, my work spans the full lifecycle of an ecomomic model, including the conceptualisation, development and communication; it is particularly rewarding to see a project through from start to finish.
I have had a great deal of contact and interaction with our clients which I really enjoy, particularly when we receive feedback about the real-world application of our models after project completion. My work has a significant impact in the medical sector and it is a joy to be reminded of this.
How would you describe a typical day in the life of a Health Economist at Costello Medical?
A lot of my time is spent working on economic models for pharmaceutical drugs. These models will vary in style depending on the aim – often I am looking to show what the costs and the effects of taking up a new drug would be, or what impact the drug would have on current levels of spending.
I often start my day by making small changes to a model I have previously created, which might be required as a result of new data becoming available or due to feedback from our client. I then start making the larger changes and developments; the models are usually built in Microsoft Excel, and it is enjoyable learning how to use this program in an advanced way. I occasionally use STATA and R, but most of the coding I complete is in Microsoft Visual Basic. I find the process of building a whole economic model, from conceptualisation through to testing, really rewarding.
It is important to keep our clients informed about the work we have been doing and so, before lunch, I draft a slideset that highlights our progress and the next developments to be made to the model. After lunch, I have a teleconference call with the rest of the project team to discuss these changes – these regular updates ensure that we are all on the same page and working well together. After the call, I discuss the project with the rest of the team which includes members of the Literature Reviews and Synthesis and HTA teams. I find it valuable to work with colleagues across different divisions and utilise their areas of expertise.
Throughout the day I will also be on hand to help with any technical, modelling or statistics-based questions which others in the company might have. Due to the technical nature of my job, my input is valued on a range of project types across the company; it is also great to have lots of interaction with other colleagues.
In the afternoon I make a start on a new project. For this, I have to understand the disease area to enable me to build a model that accurately fits the reality of the clinical situation. This allows me to see the relevance of what I am building and its grounding in the real world.
I spend the rest of the day working on slides for a workshop with clinicians later this month. We hope to gather more information on what the inputs for the model will be and receive their feedback on whether they think our model is appropriate. These workshops are a great way to learn how models need to be adapted to actually reflect clinical practice and offer a chance to get out of the office and discuss my work with clinical experts in the field.