Health economist moves beyond adoption to optimization of health delivery

"He is likely the most influential health economist in the province, impacting many levels of financial, economic and policy decisions made in Alberta," says Arto Ohinmaa.

Donna Richardson - 10 September 2019

If there is one thing that drives health economist Anderson Chuck, it is doing work that will have an impact on the world we live in.

Chuck (MPH '04, PhD '08) is the senior program officer of financial planning with Alberta Health Services. Preferring the practical over the conceptual, he says, "I try to put my energy into things that will actually make a difference."

Arto Ohinmaa, professor in the School of Public Health, says Chuck is doing just that.

Ohinmaa, who was Chuck's PhD co-supervisor, says, "He is likely the most influential health economist in the province, impacting many levels of financial, economic and policy decisions made in Alberta."

In his role with Alberta Health Services, Chuck is responsible for financial planning and has a vision of implementing a framework for value-based health care to maximize what is achieved from scarce taxpayer resources.

According to Chuck, the needs of the health system and its stakeholders are constantly evolving and system leaders must adapt to the changing needs. "My mission is to move evidence informed decision making beyond adoption decisions and into the realm of health-system optimization that reflects the realities of health-service delivery."

When asked where he thinks he has had the greatest impact, Chuck says, "If there is one area that I hope I have helped move the needle on, it's on making assessments-in whatever form that you are doing them-as contextually relevant as possible. Context matters."

Health technology assessment, Chuck explains, involves more than answering the adoption question: should we buy this technology or should we not? "We need to move beyond simply answering the adoption question and consider how to optimize the technology within our local context."

In addition to his work as a health economist, Chuck is a co-founder of the Network of Alberta Health Economists (NOAHE), a group that aims to increase collaboration between health economics researchers and policy makers.

According to Ohinmaa, NOAHE has already shown its importance by activating the health economics community in Alberta. "Many of our health policy and management students and postdoctoral fellows are actively collaborating through the network."

The School of Public Health will honour Chuck with the Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes an alumnus/a who has made outstanding career achievements and contributions over a number of years. Dean Shanthi Johnson will present him with the award on September 20 during Alumni Weekend celebrations

The Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 2016 as a legacy initiative to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the School of Public Health.