Health Economics in R Hackathon

Imperial College 2019

On November 6th – 7th 2019 at Imperial College London, we hosted the first health economics in R hackathon.

The event was aimed at health economists, statistcians and R users who are interested in creating new R tools to tackle problems in health economics large or small.

There was a lot of interest in the event (despite the fact the dates coincided with one of the main health economics conferences!). Attendees came from academia, government, consultancies and industry, including UCL, University of Bristol, Glasgow, NICE amongst others. The hackathon website has details about the structure of the two days and some of the ambitions.

The hackthon started with brief project pitches by Nathan Green, Howard Thom, Sangeeta Bhatia, Nichola Naylor, Sam Abbott. Following this, the participants split into groups to work on these or other projects proposed within groups.

There was plenty of enthusiasm and hardwork and even something tangible to show for it at the end.

It was also great to socialise with everyone at the evening meal at the end of the first day following a hard days hacking.

The final presented projects were:

  • SHEPRD – Signposting Health Economic Packages in R for Decision Modelling
  • hermes6 – Writing fast Markov models. A comparison of different implementations in R
  • inflatably – Inflating costs to present value (PV) using different source rates
  • xlerate – Run Excel from R without Excel
  • Packaging an R cost-effectiveness tutorial for ease-of-use and reproducability

We also had focused advanced R skills sessions to upskill current R users on Git and GitHub, Shiny, testing (unit tests/testthat, Travis CI), and package building in RStudio.

There will be a second event happening at Queen’s University Belfast on 21st and 22nd of January 2020. The format will be slightly different with a half-day of teaching followed by a data dive (delving into a health economics related dataset). This is aimed at less experienced R users than the hackathon. The event is proving even more popular than the London hackathon so we are really looking forward to it.

These meetings have been made possible by generous support from the Medical Research Council, Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis (Grant Reference MR/R015600/1), NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Modelling Methodology and Imperial College London.


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