Health care is one of the most important and complex areas of modern society. With the constant growth of scientific achievements and the development of medical technologies, we are faced with the need for more efficient allocation of limited resources to ensure optimal health and treatment for all patients. It is in this context that pharmacoeconomics has become increasingly important.
Pharmacoeconomic studies allow us to evaluate the effectiveness of medical technologies, predict their impact on patients and healthcare in general, and assess the cost-benefit ratio of their implementation. However, to achieve the best results, pharmacoeconomic studies must be evidence-based, objective and comprehensive. Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR) plays a key role in this.
In this article, we explore how pharmacoeconomics and HEOR can improve healthcare decision-making. We will look at the importance of data provided by HEOR consulting firm to optimize resource allocation, select the most effective treatment strategies and improve patient outcomes.
What is pharmacoeconomics
Pharmacoeconomics is a field of study that examines the economic aspects of medical technologies, including drugs and medical procedures. It analyzes the cost-effectiveness relationship in healthcare, which allows for the evaluation of both economic and clinical aspects of medical interventions.
Cost-effectiveness, cost-utility and cost-benefit analyses are key elements of pharmacoeconomic evaluations. They determine how efficiently resources are used in medical interventions, which helps to make informed decisions about investments in health care.
The main indicators of cost economic evaluation are:
- Incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER), an indicator that is used to determine the ratio between the incremental costs and incremental effects of a new treatment or health intervention compared to alternatives.
- Quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) – an indicator that combines quantity of life with quality of life. It is used to assess the impact of medical interventions on patients’ health and well-being.
- Willingness-to-pay thresholds – certain standards or benchmarks that are used to determine whether a new treatment or medical intervention is worth implementing based on its cost and effectiveness. These values indicate the maximum amount of money that society or healthcare is willing to pay per unit of additional healthcare or per additional QALY to consider such a therapy cost-effective.
Various methods are used in pharmacoeconomic evaluations such as:
- Decision analysis is a systematic approach to decision making that helps in selecting the optimal treatment strategy given uncertainty and various options.
- Markov modeling is a technique used to model long-term processes and predict treatment outcomes based on transitions between different health states.
- Systematic reviews are a method that collects and analyzes all available evidence about a particular health intervention to draw informed conclusions about its effectiveness and cost.
All of these concepts and methods help inform health care decisions, optimizing resource allocation and improving patient outcomes.
Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR)
HEOR is an interdisciplinary field that examines issues related to health care costs, performance measurement, and health outcomes in order to provide reliable data for health care decision-making.
The goal of HEOR is to help determine which medical interventions or technologies are most effective and cost-efficient to optimize health outcomes and patient satisfaction, with limited resources.
The wide range of topics that HEOR covers include:
- economic evaluations;
- health technology assessments;
- preventive measures;
- real-world data (RWD);
- patient-reported outcomes.
HEOR studies utilize:
- clinical trials;
- patient registries;
- insurance company databases;
- patient surveys.
HEOR provides reliable and accurate data based on real-world evidence that informs informed health care decisions. The COVID-19 pandemic was an example of how well scientific data can work. For example, a retrospective analysis showed that prescribing tocilizumab to patients with severe COVID-19 led to definite improvements in survival, clinical status, and hospital discharge rates. This supports the importance of HEOR studies in evaluating treatment efficacy and evidence-based decision making.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows the use of real-world evidence (RWE) for drug approval. One example of this approach is Pfizer’s drug Ibrance (palbociclib), which was approved by the FDA for the treatment of breast cancer in men in 2019. This decision was based on real-world data (RWD) from electronic health records (EHR) as additional evidence for the efficacy of Ibrance in combination with endocrine therapy in male patients with breast cancer.
Challenges and future directions for pharmacoeconomics and HEOR
There are a number of challenges currently facing pharmacoeconomics and HEOR:
- rising health care costs, which puts pressure on health care systems;
- the diversity of new technologies and medicines, which creates challenges for evaluating their effectiveness and comparing them with existing treatments;
- personalized medicine;
- poor quality and hard-to-access data;
- rapidly changing health policies;
- consideration of patient preferences;
- in industry-sponsored studies, there is bias and lack of transparency in the methods used to conduct pharmacoeconomic evaluations
Future directions in pharmacoeconomics and HEOR:
- use of artificial intelligence and big data analytics;
- eeal-world data-driven value assessment;
- accounting for long-term outcomes;
- value assessment in personalized medicine;
- development of new standards and guidelines to create uniform and comparable valuation methods;
- consideration of patient preferences and values.
Pharmacoeconomics and HEOR play an important role in deciding whether new medical technologies should be introduced into the health care system. These areas of research provide information that can be used to compare different treatments, evaluate the cost-effectiveness of new treatments, and improve the quality of care.
Pharmacoeconomics and HEOR will continue to evolve in the future. They will utilize new methods of data collection and analysis, as well as new methods of evaluating the effectiveness and costs of new medical technologies. This will make pharmacoeconomic and HEOR studies more accurate and useful for making decisions about the introduction of new medical technologies.