Governments world wide are increasingly demanding outcome measures to evaluate research investment. Health and medical research outputs can be considered as gains in knowledge, wealth and health. Measurement of the impacts of research on health are difficult, particularly within the time frames of granting bodies. Thus evaluations often measure what can be measured, rather than what should be measured. Traditional academic metrics are insufficient to demonstrate societal benefit from public investment in health research. New approaches that consider all the benefits of research are needed.