Have you met... Tiago Rua?

Tiago studied Biomedical Engineering, worked in consulting and today he is a Health Economist in UK.

Tiago Rua is a biomedical engineer. He started his professional career as a junior consultant at Antares Consulting, and then co-founded a consulting company (Aligned), targeting the Portuguese and Angolan healthcare markets. Given his interest in healthcare, Tiago later pursued a degree in hospital management, which was his first contact with health economics. He moved to the UK in 2012 to work at the King’s College London, in partnership with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust (GSTT). During his role as a health economist with NICE, Tiago took part in the evaluation of multiple new medical technologies prior to being available across the NHS. Tiago now works at GSTT and has recently completed a PhD in the field of health economics, assessing the real-world implications of changing clinical care across a major NHS Trust whilst promoting the utilization of health economics and translational research principles.

How is the day of a Health Economist?

Every day is different. In my specific case, it involves dealing with multidisciplinary teams, attending many meetings, and discussions in a hospital context. Promoting change is always difficult and complicated, and my job aims to do that every day. For example, in this pandemic situation, one of the first things that I needed to do was create models that could predict how many intensive care unit (ICU) beds would be necessary. However, the bottom line is to improve medical care for patients and enhance the NHS financial sustainability.

Which type of skills and know-how should one develop to be a health economist?

The technical skills are mainly modeling, cost, and cost-effectiveness analyses from the NHS, hospital, and patients’ perspectives. In the hospital context, I would say that being able to communicate effectively with clinicians and other managers alike is the main skill that a health economist should have since clinicians are the ones who deliver care. Our job is to advise them as best as we can.

Could you describe your experience as the CEO of Aligned? What happened with the company afterward?

Overall, it was an enriching experience. I learned a lot and at a very fast pace. Aligned's main differences compared with the big consulting firms were our focus being solely in the healthcare field and the link with an emerging market (Angola). Aligned allowed me to have such individual freedom that would not otherwise be possible in a big firm. Then I had to leave Aligned for personal reasons since I didn’t want to move to Angola, where this project moved to.

Did you leave the entrepreneurship life or just for now?

In the future, it is in my plans to create another company. And to be honest, I never left consulting, I’m still doing it as a freelancer.

Since you were involved in research in the hospital context, in your opinion, what is going to be the next breakthrough in science?

Artificial Intelligence, for sure! The impact that is going to have in the healthcare field will be huge. It will mostly affect the imaging area initially, but then I can see it broadly applied in the clinical setting. It will change completely the way doctors work, it won’t eliminate jobs but adapt them instead.

Which are the main set of skills that you value in a member of your team?

Honesty and transparency. I like “doers”! And also, team members who are curious and proactive.

Ever thought about Health Economy as a career? We will post more career paths that you can pursue with a science degree! Stay tuned!


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