What’s the “Best” Data?–The Data That Can Answer the Question!

In a previous post by my colleague Dr. Aylin Altan Riedel, she presented an overview of Analyze This!, an educational symposium sponsored by Optum Life Sciences at the 18th Annual International Society of Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) Annual International Meeting. I’m pleased to be a part of this panel discussion focused on getting the right data for research and evidence generation.

In my portion of the panel – Relations Between Health Plans, Research Capabilities and External Customers – I hope to bring context to these issues by highlighting the social, political and economic influences in the United States health care system and how those factors affect research and expert guidance. When it comes to health care, we have an affordability crisis that affects all stakeholder– consumers, plan sponsors, care providers and public programs alike. These audiences have different perspectives on the issue, but in the end, we share common goals: improve consumer’s health care experiences, improve population health and to control health care inflation.  And the proper research and data can help do just that.

In this panel, I plan to discuss how evidence is used to inform medical policy and how study design is critical. To cut to the chase, the best data for a study are data that can answer the question that’s been posed! All data have strengths and limitations, and no one type or source of data has inherent superiority.

Ultimately, to make meaningful progress, we need to “create the future by inventing it”. We need to get answers more quickly, which necessitates an understanding of the right questions further up front in the innovation process.  And we need a clinical environment where information is gathered, analyzed and disseminated as care is being delivered. We have the opportunity to capitalize on opportunities created through sophisticated analysis of observational data and we need to get that information disseminated quickly for clinical decision support.

If you have any thoughts on my contributions to the panel, I welcome the conversation at lewis_g_sandy@uhg.com. For a full schedule of Optum’s contributions to the ISPOR meeting, please visit Optum.com.

Lewis G. Sandy, MD, FACP, Executive Vice President, Clinical Advancement, UnitedHealth Group

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