Resource Roundup: my tips and tricks to efficiently stay informed and learn more about the evolving field of health economics
Teaching with the University of Washington’s online certificate program in Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR), students often ask us how to keep up with the constantly changing field after the course series ends. Here is a compilation of the ways that I try to efficiently monitor new research and stay alert to important events in our evolving field.
PubMed Alerts using MESH terms – provides an email digest that summarizes any new papers published that meet your search criteria. I have it send me the titles, abstracts, and links to all new papers that I will want to know about each week. Watch a 2-minute tutorial on how to set this up. This is absolutely the most efficient way to stay up to date on specific topics.
In a 2-minute skim of the email from My NCBI I either: A) confirm there is nothing newsworthy in the last week and move on, B) see an interesting title and read the abstract to learn more, or C) find something important, read the abstract, download the whole paper from the journal website, look at the tables and figures, and then save in my files to read full text later.
Example of My NCBI “saved search terms” setting I created to alert me of new papers on my research topic that were published in the last week:
"Cost-Benefit Analysis"[MeSH Terms] AND ((HIV AND (PrEP OR "Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis")) OR ((HIV OR AIDS) AND vaccine*)))
I make mental notes on who is publishing, what institutions they are from, and which journals frequently publish papers on the topic or method. Below is an example message I recently received to alert me that one pharmacoeconomics paper on vaccines was published in the past week. My settings are customized to conveniently provide the abstract within the email message and a frequency of one email summary per week.
Example of terms in my alert for new publications authored by faculty in The CHOICE Institute, including only citations and links once per week:
((((((((((((Bansal, Aasthaa[Author - Full]) OR Basu, Anirban[Author - Full]) OR Carlson, Josh[Author - Full]) OR Devine, Beth[Author - Full]) OR Garrison, Louis[Author - Full]) OR Hansen, Ryan[Author - Full]) OR Hazlet, Thomas[Author - Full]) OR Ramsey, Scott[Author - Full]) OR Stergachis, Andy[Author - Full]) OR Steuten, Lotte[Author - Full]) OR Sullivan, Sean[Author - Full]) OR Veenstra, David[Author - Full])
Google Scholar Alerts
Google Scholar Alerts – Do a search for the topic of interest, e.g., “flatiron health”; click the envelope icon in the sidebar of the search results page; enter your email address, and click “Create alert”. Google periodically emails newly published papers that match this search criteria. Be careful not to have too many of these alerts as you cannot limit the frequency. Try narrowing the specificity of your search terms to manage the frequency and volume of emails.
Tips from Professors – Pivotal news articles, scientific papers, and new guidelines identified by faculty members in The CHOICE Institute are forwarded to all faculty, students, and alumni of my PhD program. This perk fills in the gaps for me considering my other alerts are specific to my current research projects.
Follow good blogs in one place
I use BlogLovin to track and read scientific blogs. I login about once per month to skim posts from my favorite writers as if casually flipping through People magazine. My favorites include:
- The Incidental Economist – a must-read for everyone
- Incremental Thoughts – hot topics covered by PhD students at the CHOICE Institute
- Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science – this is more advanced researchers
- Healthcare Economist
Listen to a podcast or two
Flip through the glossy magazines
- FiercePharma – short online articles about newsworthy events in the pharmaceutical industry. I have the rundown below sent to me daily. I also subscribe to FierceVaccines.
- The Economist – my favorite sections to check are The World This Week, Finance and Economics, Science and Technology, and sometimes Business. I read anything written by Soumaya Keynes. I learn a lot from the casual writing style and excellent figures.
- NY Times – sections on Health, Science, Tech (also Fashion & Style to balance things out)
- Value and Outcomes Spotlight – this non-peer-reviewed glossy is an easy to stay in touch with topics on the minds of HEOR professionals, published every other month. Perfect airplane reading material.
Skim the table of contents
I receive the table of contents by email for each new issue of a few academic journals. You can request this directly from each publisher’s website. I enjoy quickly skimming the titles in the table of contents to see if there is anything newsworthy on topics I care about.
- Value in Health – lots of cost-effectiveness analyses
- Medical Decision Making – heavier in methods
- Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy (JMCP)
- Journal of Health Economics
- Health Economics
- Disease-specific journals related to my research (i.e., JAIDS)
- ISPOR Task Force reports set international standards for outcomes research and its use in healthcare decision making.
- ICER Reports – to understand the value of controversial new drugs that healthcare payers are considering covering. I don’t have an alert set up for this, and I check the website periodically.
How do you stay current with the changing landscape of health economics and learn about newsworthy events or publications?