Meeting round-up: 16th Annual International Conference on Health Economics, Management & Policy

The 16th Annual International Conference on Health Economics, Management & Policy took place this June, as it does every year, in Athens, Greece. The conference is run by the Athens Institute for Education and Research, which was established in 1995 and covers a wide range of academic disciplines, including health economics.

The conference was held in the centre of Athens in parallel with a variety of conferences for other disciplines. In fact, the 3rd International Conference on Public Health happened to be in the same room and had many of the same sessions as this meeting. As a result, there was less health economics than I had expected but this was not a problem and I think made for more interesting discussion as the two disciplines gave a range of different comments.

The sessions followed a format whereby each discussant had 15 minutes to present a short summary of their own paper. There were between 2 and 5 presentations per session and these were delivered back to back. Only after all presentations in a session were concluded was the floor opened up for questions, comments or discussion. Papers had been grouped to have similar themes and so, in many cases, this worked well in widening the discussion to more general research areas. Each session was chaired by a senior researcher, and chairs were under strict instructions not to participate in the discussion of their session. There were no plenary talks, other than a very friendly welcome and introduction by the president of the Institute at the beginning of the first day.

Participants had a wide range of research backgrounds, so presentations which were targeted at a more general audience were better received. Personally, I found the discussion in my session really useful, partly because there were a number of public health experts in the room. I presented a paper on the topic of childhood obesity, which is always of interest to people with a range of different backgrounds. Others may not have benefitted from this quality of discussion because of their more specific research areas. This is something I think it would be important to consider before presenting at this conference. I found myself tweaking the delivery of my presentation after realising the variety of backgrounds and research interests in the audience.

The conference was followed by two days of ‘educational’ trips in the areas surrounding Athens. For these trips, participants at the Health Economics, Management and Policy conference were joined by attendees of conferences from other academic disciplines which were taking place in parallel, allowing participants to network beyond their own research areas. Unfortunately, I was unable to participate in these trips but Athens is a beautiful place and I expect that the trips were very informative and a lot of fun.

This was a very international conference and makes for a great opportunity to network with researchers from all over the world. All papers and discussions were given in English. The conference would be great for PhD students or researchers who have relatively little experience presenting their research, due to the friendly atmosphere and informal discussion.