5 Topics of Interest at Virtual ISPOR 2021

Laura Joszt, MA
Laura Joszt, MA

Laura is the editorial director of The American Journal of Managed Care® (AJMC®) and all its brands, including The American Journal of Accountable Care®, Evidence-Based Oncology™, and The Center for Biosimilars®. She has been working on AJMC® since 2014 and has been with AJMC®'s parent company, MJH Life Sciences, since 2011. She has an MA in business and economic reporting from New York University.

The 4-day annual meeting of ISPOR—The Professional Society for Health Economics and Outcomes Research—will cover a wide range of topics. Here are 5 themes to keep an eye out for.

The annual international conference of ISPOR—The Professional Society for Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR)—will bring together HEOR experts and thought leaders to discuss opportunities and challenges in HEOR methods, practices, and application. The 4-day virtual meeting will cover a wide range of topics in live sessions, on-demand sessions, posters presentations and educational symposia.

Here are 5 themes to keep an eye out for at Virtual ISPOR 2021.

1. COVID-19 Lessons Learned and Continuing Challenges

A virtual conference wouldn’t be complete without at least 1, but preferably many, sessions devoted to COVID-19 and the impact the pandemic has had on health care. The first day of the meeting will have 2 sessions devoted to COVID-19 vaccines: one session on access to COVID-19 vaccines and the other session on the underrepresentation of minority groups in COVID-19 clinical trials and how to overcome vaccine hesitancy. Addressing hesitancy and access issues to the vaccines is critical as shot availability increases.

Another session will focus on vaccine access in low- and middle-income countries with a focus on determining which vaccines bring the most value to developing countries when taking into consideration factors such as societal value, affordability, and storage/distribution requirements.

The first plenary session of the meeting will consider the lessons learned from the COVID-10 pandemic and how the HEOR community can help health care systems build resilience and sustainability.

2. The Role of Health Technology Assessments

While some countries, such as the United Kingdom and Germany, have organizations that appraise drugs using health technology assessments (HTAs) that are then used to influence reimbursement thresholds, the same is not true in the United States, which has several independent organizations that provide such research to be used in negotiations. HTAs can ensure affordability of therapies while encouraging innovation.

In a spotlight session at ISPOR, panelists will present recommendations for the public funding of an advisory-only HTA in the United States that can help improve decision making. They will consider if the United States should adopt an approach similar to what the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the United Kingdom uses, whether insurers should be required to use HTA reports in coverage decisions, and more.

Another session will focus on NICE and the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review and the modifiers being used in addition to cost-effectiveness evidence.

3. Communication and the Patient Voice

Effective communication is crucial part of health care, and ISPOR will feature sessions on communication and incorporating the patient voice. In one session, panelists will discuss communication challenges related to new modes of communication that were implemented during the pandemic and disseminating information to a wider audience beyond the research community.

Two sessions will discuss how to bring the patient voice into value assessments. One session will describe ways patients have been engaged to provide qualitative and quantitate data that have informed value assessments. The second session will discuss how patient input is incorporated into HTAs in health care systems around the world and how patient voices can be fairly incorporated into the drug value assessment and coverage process in the United States.

4. Paying for Cures and Expensive Therapies

Every year, ISPOR’s meeting tackles the challenge of how to pay for increasingly expensive therapies. This year, the meeting will include an educational symposium on reimbursement and pricing for innovative cell and gene therapies in rare diseases. The panelists will discuss some policies that payers around the world have used to address the challenge, as well as the impact of these therapies on value assessment frameworks, contracting, and affordability.

Another session will bring together a patient, a member of industry, and a payer to discuss the challenges of providing coverage for gene therapies that may cost millions of dollars but have the potential to be curative.

5. Real-World Data

Currently, cancer receives the majority of focus when it comes to real-world data (RWD) development and usage, but that is changing. RWD is being used in other areas, such as dermatology, rheumatology, cardiology, and behavioral health, and in a session, panelists will discuss data networks and advances in machine learning and natural language processing, as well as cases for accelerating research, measuring outcomes, and personalizing care.

Another session will debate how to identify and reduce the influence of unmeasured confounders in RWD and potential solutions. In addition, 2 sessions will both focus on how the COVID-19 pandemic may have impacted RWD. One session will cover how the pandemic affected how RWD is used and analyzed, while the other will speculate on how evidence generation strategies may change in a post-pandemic era.