HERC: About Us
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About Us



The mission of the VA Health Economics Resource Center (HERC) is to increase the quality of VA health economics research and cost-effectiveness studies so that the nation and the nation’s veterans may get the best possible health care value from available resources. HERC was created in 1999 to respond to the VA Health Services Research and Development Service (HSR&D) request for proposals to create a resource center on health economics.

Located in Menlo Park, California, HERC helps VA researchers determine the cost of VA care, assess cost-effectiveness, and evaluate the efficiency of VA programs and providers. We conduct two seminar series on health economics, coordinate monthly economic cyber seminars, and operate an economics consulting service. Our consulting service is primarily for VA researchers who have a specific question not already addressed by resources on our website. Due to the great demand for health economics expertise, HERC economists do not ordinarily respond to requests for consulting assistance by becoming involved as co-investigators. We maintain a database of VA health economists, including key words listing their research interests.

We estimate the cost of all VA health care encounters, develop guidebooks to VA data, and issue technical reports with analyses of economic data. The expertise of HERC economists is developed through their participation and leadership in economic studies that are funded by VA HSR&D, the VA Quality Ehancement Research Initiative (QUERI), the VA Cooperative Studies Program (CSP), the National Institutes of Health, and other research sponsors.

VA Research

HERC is dedicated to increasing VA's capacity to conduct high-quality health economics research and cost-effectiveness studies. We are the economics resource center for the Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) Service and the Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI) Program, as well as the economics coordinating center for the Cooperative Studies Program (CSP). 

Health Services Research & Development (HSR&D)

The VA Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) service supports research on innovative strategies that lead to accessible, high quality, and cost-effective care for veterans and the nation. HERC receives core support from HSR&D to act as a national center that helps VA researchers determine the cost of VA care, assess cost-effectiveness, assess the budget impact of adopting and implementing new technologies, and evaluate the efficiency of VA programs and providers. We operate an economics consulting service for VA researchers and offer health economics seminars. We work to improve methods and data available to VA economics researchers, including developing micro-costing methods, evaluating VA cost and utilization databases, estimating the cost of all VA health care encounters, and analyzing VA Managerial Cost Accounting (MCA; formerly Decision Support System) cost data. We publish guidebooks and technical reports.

HERC economists conduct investigator-initiated research funded by VA HSR&D Service and assist with cost-effectiveness analysis in projects funded by HSR&D and the HSR&D QUERI Program.

Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI)

The Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI) is a quality improvement program that is a central component of VA's commitment to improving the quality of Veterans' healthcare by implementing effective clinical practices into routine care. QUERI supports economic analyses of implementation research to support future decisions.

HERC supports QUERI by (a) facilitating scientifically rigorous economic analyses of QUERI implementation research, (b) assisting QUERI strategic goals that are working to reduce the time from research to practice and (c) developing resources and tools to guide QUERI researchers interested in economics.

Cooperative Studies Program (CSP)

The VA Cooperative Studies Program (CSP) conducts multi-site randomized clinical trials of innovations in health care. HERC economists help plan, implement, and analyze data from trials coordinated by CSP that evaluate economic hypotheses.

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Current Projects

HERC works on projects in many subjects. Our work focuses on the following priorities: community care data; data access, sharing, and governance; the transition to the Cerner electronic medical records system; the MEPS Veteran sample; the Choose Home initiative; and a comparison of VA and non-VA cost and utilization.

HERC staff lead and collaboration on research and operations projects that span many of the priority areas in the Office of Research and Development (ORD) Health Systems Portfolio. The table below lists some of our projects and their Health Systems Portfolio priority area.

Health Systems Portfolio Priority Area


Access, Community Care, Rural Health

Mental Health

Chronic Pain / Opioid Use Disorders

Health Equity / Social Determinants of Health

  • Racial Sorting of Patients and Its Implications for Racial Disparities in Health Outcomes

Complex Chronic Care, Primary Care / Prevention

Disability, Function, Long Term Care, and Aging

Women's Health Care

Quality, Safety, and Value

Health Informatics / Health IT / EHRM / Data Science, Virtual Care

  • Intended and Unintended Consequences of the MISSION Act for Medicare-Eligible Veterans
  • Enhancing Veterans’ Access to Care Through Video Telehealth Tablets
  • Virtual Integrated Multi-site Patient Aligned Care Teams (V-IMPACT): Economic Evaluation Center (VEC)
  • Evaluation of Telehealth Expansion via VA’s V-IMPACT and Clinical Resource Hub Programs: Associations with Patients’ Health Care Utilization and Costs
  • The Economic Benefits of Virtual Care
  • The Economic Effects of VA’s National Telestroke Program 

COVID and Other Emerging Areas

  • Use of Virtual Care and Adherence to Chronic Medications During the COVID-19 Crisis
  • Veteran Access to Emergency Care During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic and Related Outcomes
  • The Impact of VA-Issued iPads During COVID-19 on Rural Veterans’ Suicide Screenings and Mental Health Utilization
  • Off Label Medication and the Risk of Death When Hospitalized From COVID

Translation, Implementation & Improvement Science

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