Last month, thousands of global researchers, thought leaders and life sciences industry peers gathered in Italy for the 18th Annual European Congress of the International Society of Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR). We were all there in the name of health economics and outcomes research, which is very appropriate given that health economics was first adopted, “grew up” and proliferated most quickly in Europe. The fact that the congress featured more than 2,450 research presentations illustrates the size of this conference and tremendous diversity of topics covered.
Our active involvement and leadership in ISPOR allows us to serve the mission of promoting “health economics and outcomes research excellence to improve decision making for health globally.” From our perspective, it helps us harness research excellence and operate as a vehicle for translating that research into practice in health care communities. I would liken ISPOR to a group of early astronomers working to make sense of the universe and Optum to NASA, working to land a man on the moon. While distinct, the former was necessary, but insufficient, for the latter.
The Optum symposium during the conference, “Emerging Use of Real-World Evidence in European Health Care,” looked at comparative methods and insights that payers and new economic decision-makers are using in key European markets. It allowed us to exhibit our observations and experiences as a population health company in Europe and communicate the need for both health economics theory and practical evidence. In keeping with the mission of ISPOR, we need academic evidence; but we also need to conceptualize those learnings and apply them to specific problems, hospitals and patients.
This is what our clients, health care providers and the industry at large need from us. They need actionable outputs that can be put to use — from the real-world evidence we’re uncovering. We need to move beyond the theory of the planets to determine how fast the moon spins so that we can land that man on the moon.
ISPOR’s theme for this meeting, “Impacting Health Decision Making with Outcomes Research: Closing the Gap,” is a perfect call to action. It is one thing to produce research, yet another to impact a decision. New stakeholders are emerging, demanding contextualized evidence meaningful to their hospitals and their patients.
The issues and trends in health care today are global in nature and are being felt everywhere. While the entity holding the risk and economic burden varies, the problems remain the same. With this in mind, the challenges are great, but the opportunity to make impactful change is broad-sweeping across the globe. Thank you to ISPOR for another chance to connect and make strides in bringing our collective work forward. At Optum, we will use this momentum to continue fueling our work in deploying real-world evidence to produce the “why” behind decisions and create solutions that improve patient care.
—Brian Kelly, President, Optum Life Sciences