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Focus Areas

Public Health Economics

Assessing value and impact in public health

We provide decision makers with evidence on the costs, benefits, and impacts of health programs or interventions by analyzing data on program costs and effects. To guide policy, program, and reimbursement planning, we develop models of the impacts and costs of proposed strategies over both short and long-time horizons. We use data from a variety of sources, including health surveys, surveillance systems, healthcare claims, and electronic health records, to analyze the impact of economic incentives on health behaviors, disease risk factors, and health, mortality, and economic outcomes.

We offer the following expertise and services:

  • Burden of illness studies
  • Health program cost analysis
  • Health program and policy evaluation
  • Disease and economic modeling
  • Cost-effectiveness analysis
  • Health policy impact studies
  • Resource allocation analysis

Recent applications of our health economic analysis and evaluation services are highlighted below.


prism cdc

Simulating Impacts of Preventive Interventions

Our public health economics experts worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop the Prevention Impacts Simulation Model (PRISM). PRISM estimates the impact and cost-effectiveness of 32 strategies to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The publicly available online model offers six different demographic profiles for communities to generate simulations for a population that best matches their own. CDC has used PRISM to support planning and evaluation for state and community awardees targeting tobacco use, inadequate nutrition and physical activity, and chronic condition management.  The publicly available online model offers six different demographic profiles for communities to generate simulations for a population that best matches their own. CDC has used PRISM to support planning and evaluation for state and community awardees targeting tobacco use, inadequate nutrition and physical activity, and chronic condition management.

Prevention Impacts Simulation Model


participating in exercise class

Evaluating the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program

In 2012, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provided the YMCA with a Health Care Innovation Award to deliver community-based diabetes prevention interventions. RTI’s public health economics team worked with the CMS Innovation Center to determine the impact of the program on healthcare spending, hospital admissions, and unnecessary emergency room visits. We found that Medicare saved $278 per program participant per quarter over the first 3 years of the program.

Evaluation of the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program


A boy receives a vaccine injection

Vaccination Economics Studies

RTI’s public health economics team has worked with CDC and the National Vaccine Program (NVPO) on several projects to assess the costs of providing vaccination in various settings including different type of medical practices, pharmacies, and schools. These projects have included a variety of costing methods, including time-motion studies and activity-based costing surveys. This work has also involved analyzing vaccination reimbursement data to compare with costs. Results have helped to identify cost and payment barriers to the supply of vaccination in various settings. CDC and NVPO have used these findings to guide immunization policy to prevent the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Estimating the Costs and Income of Providing Vaccination to Adults and Children

Analysis of the profitability of adult vaccination in 13 private provider practices in the United States

Provider time and costs to vaccinate adult patients: Impact of time counseling without vaccination


mathematical modeling

Mathematical Modeling of HIV Progression and Transmission

We developed the HIV Optimization and Prevention Effectiveness (HOPE) model to estimate the number of new HIV infections in the United States that result from sexual and needle-sharing risks and to explore how alternative HIV prevention and care strategies could affect HIV incidence and costs. Working with CDC’s Division of HIV and AIDS Prevention, we have used HOPE to analyze the impact of pre-exposure prophylaxis, to explore what additional efforts may be needed to achieve national goals for HIV prevention, and to estimate the optimal allocation of HIV funding across prevention and treatment interventions.

Impact of improved HIV care