This year I was struck by a new vibe at ISPOR –the ‘must attend” conference for health economics outcomes research. ISPOR aspired to — and succeeded at — broadening its reach by replacing its usual highly technical agenda, with one that was extremely relevant for these times.
For the first time, patient representatives, health policy, regulatory, academic experts and other stakeholder groups joined the health economists, payers and pharma industry executives who normally attend. The result: the largest and broadest representation to date with a variety of perspectives on how to improve the healthcare system.
Up until now, the ISPOR conference has been pretty much the same; mostly attended by health economists who work quietly in the background on evaluations and models aimed at helping healthcare systems direct ever scarcer resources to the interventions that promise the greatest benefit. Year after year, this group of technocrats has moved in its own circle and spoken its own language.
ISPOR CEO and Executive Director Nancy Berg highlighted the “intense interest in HEOR” (Health Economics and Outcomes Research) as one of the reasons that more people from different sectors attended the global ISPOR conference. As she put it, this research “has become increasingly important as governments and other payers seek to provide the best possible healthcare at affordable costs.”
Not surprisingly, when you cast a net to include a broader range of people, you end up with a broader range of views. And indeed, the most exciting part of ISPOR Europe 2018 was hearing the varied opinions and lively debates on how to value curative medicines, how to engage more effectively with patients, and how artificial intelligence could revolutionize jobs in health economics.
Meeting organizers even braved the hot topic of fair pricing in a panel discussion that included representatives from the investor community, industry, patient groups, payers and the European Commission. Panelists called for initiatives that would deliver optimal patient outcomes, incentivize investment in innovation, and support healthy competition.