A global discussion on health care policy and innovation

Health care systems across the globe are as dynamic and complex as the populations they serve. Yet as varied as they are, they encounter common challenges as they strive toward the same goal — establishing and maintaining effective, affordable health care for their constituents. Last month, global experts and stakeholders convened to address some of the top issues being faced by health systems in Europe and elsewhere.

As the leading global scientific and educational organization for health economics and outcomes research (HEOR), the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) holds conferences around the world each year. The 19th Annual ISPOR European Congress was held in Vienna, Austria, with more than 5,000 health economists, outcomes researchers, policy makers, academicians and others gathered together to support ISPOR’s mission of promoting HEOR excellence to improve decision-making for health globally

Each ISPOR meeting typically reflects the state of the health care industry and regulations of the respective host country or region. This particular meeting focused on how health systems manage access to medical innovation and how methodology and policy align in that process.

Part of the discussion centered on the InterQuality Project, which is funded by the European Union to investigate the effect of different financing methods and incentives on the quality, effectiveness and equity of access to health care, among other goals. I participated in a plenary session focused on important themes emerging from this project, representing the U.S. voice in how our system is working to control costs, increase access to affordable medicines and improve quality of care. This was one of many contributions the Optum Life Sciences team made to this conference.

Another topic central to Optum contributions, prompted by growing interest industry-wide, is the use of patient-reported outcome (PRO) measures in health care policy decision-making and methodology. These tools measure health and well-being from the patient’s point of view, answering questions like “Is the patient’s health improving or declining?,” “Is the treatment working?” or “Is the program making a meaningful difference?,” allowing health care organizations to measure and better understand health outcomes.

Optum PRO tools are used to support clinical trials around the world and are translated into hundreds of languages. We are working toward increased use of PRO evidence to characterize the quality of life impacts for different treatment options, and we’re determining how those insights impact the decision-making process, translate into economic variables and inform health policy.

Collectively, now more than ever, health care systems — regardless of size, location or patient demographics — are feeling the need to move more quickly. Every evolving health care system desires the ability to drive insights faster. Upon the wrap-up of another successful ISPOR conference, we come away knowing the underlying challenge with all of our methods and tools moving forward is to enable them to accomplish what once took months in just minutes.


-Dr. Brian Solow, Chief Medical Officer, Optum Life Sciences

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