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Cost–benefit analysis of healthcare professional education: report of a conference workshop
  1. Kieran Walsh1,
  2. Cindy Noben2,
  3. Simon Gregory3,
  4. Wee Shiong Lim4,
  5. Chris Green5,
  6. Trudie Roberts6,
  7. Stephen Maloney7,
  8. Dragan Ilic7,
  9. George Rivers8,
  10. Scott Reeves9
  1. 1 BMJ Publishing Group, London, UK
  2. 2 Maastricht University Medical Centre, Maastricht, Netherlands
  3. 3 Health Education England, Birmingham, UK
  4. 4 Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore, Singapore
  5. 5 University of Essex, Colchester, UK
  6. 6 Leeds Institute of Medical Education, Leeds, UK
  7. 7 Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
  8. 8 Monash Business School, Melbourne, Australia
  9. 9 Kingston and St Georges, University of London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kieran Walsh, BMA House,Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9JR, UK; kmwalsh{at}, kmwalsh{at}

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The following is the report of a workshop that was presented at AMEE 2016: 27–31 August 2016, Barcelona, Spain. The workshop was composed of 40 leaders in undergraduate and postgraduate healthcare professional education.

The corresponding author introduced the workshop and gave an introduction to different potential cost analyses in healthcare professional education with a special emphasis on cost–benefit analysis. Following this, the delegates worked in small groups on the following themes.

Costing planned or hypothetical educational programmes

The delegates conducted mock costings of planned or hypothetical educational programmes. The following themes emerged during their discussions.

The cost of personnel was assumed to represent the biggest cost in most educational programmes.1 This is true, even in programmes that make use of technology-enhanced learning, largely because of the personnel costs needed to create or administer the technology-enhanced learning programmes, which far outweigh software costs in most programmes. However, it can be difficult to decide what personnel should be included in the costings. Most delegates erred on the side of including all personnel connected with the educational project even if some of them had only a remote connection. It was felt that this was probably best practice and that it was certainly best practice to be explicit about what personnel were included and excluded. It was felt that most education providers have financial models in place that anticipate tangible financial costs (usually with the aim of generating a small surplus). Equally important to the number of staff involved is the amount of staff time that is dedicated to the programme. This will include the amount of time delivering lectures or workshops and the amount of time preparing for them. This could be identified here, but with the caveat that the costs that education providers stipulate may not represent the true cost.

There was considerable discussion about what constituted …

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