Reflections on ISPOR’s top 10 HEOR trends report

April 2024 | Written by MICHAEL GRABNER, PHD

Earlier this year, ISPOR — The Professional Society for Health Economics and Outcomes Research, published its “2024-2025 Top 10 HEOR Trends Report .” This horizon-scanning exercise is based on surveys of ISPOR members and input from its Health Science Policy Council. In this article we highlight considerations for life sciences companies conducting pre- and post-approval research along with a few of our contributions and ongoing work across several key areas.

As in prior editions, real-world evidence (RWE) is the #1 trend in the latest report, anchored in the increasing use of RWE to improve decision making by regulators worldwide. The report briefly summarizes key advantages of RWE, such as generalizability and speed, and remaining challenges, including ensuring data quality, study transparency, and appropriate methodology. Based on the projected evolution of RWE and recent regulatory guidance, it will be essential for life sciences companies to secure high-quality, integrated, and diverse real-world data with the ability to query the source.

At Carelon Research, we have experience curating and using one of the largest, most comprehensive sources of integrated real-world data needed to assist our clients in a shared pursuit of advancing healthcare treatments and decision making. Our Healthcare Integrated Research Database (HIRD®) has been used in over 1,700 peer-reviewed scientific publications since 2006, making it an industry-leading resource for pre- and post-approval research. Our latest white paper provides more detail on the HIRD as a resource for generating real-world evidence, including covered populations, data components, and data provenance.

Carelon Research is also actively engaged in RWE transparency. Our teams are using and refining best practices such as study protocol registration (e.g., via ISPOR’s RWE registry  and ENCePP’s PAS Register *) and the HARPER study protocol template . We’re facilitating the pragmatic implementation of advanced methodologies, including outcomes validation  and causal inference , and regularly publishing collaborative thought leadership with our partners. It will be important for life sciences manufacturers to adopt transparency and related practices as these are increasingly preferred by regulators to enhance accountability and credibility of research.

See the latest examples of real-world evidence generation using the HIRD at ISPOR 2024 in Atlanta, GA. 

Health equity, the #5 trend in this report, is quickly becoming an essential consideration for HEOR. The report notes the related concepts of health disparities and social determinants (or drivers) of health while acknowledging the potential trade-offs between improving health and improving equity that may arise when evaluating new health technologies. Considerations of health equity are increasingly featured in regulatory initiatives, such as FDA’s efforts to enhance equity in clinical trials , and payer frameworks, including Elevance Health’s Whole Health  approach.

One of the first steps for improving health equity involves measuring existing health disparities. Together with Elevance Health, Carelon Research is using internal and external sources to improve capture of important individual-level data points (e.g., race/ethnicity, health-related social needs) and area-level data points (e.g., food insecurity, financial strain). With this data, we are evaluating disparities in utilization, care, and outcomes as well as leveraging the data to inform and diversify our prospective sampling strategies. Carelon Research is investing in strategies that will advance our understanding of where the health gaps are and ensure the research we produce is more relevant to the populations we serve. Elevance Health recently created and validated a whole health index : a composite measure of physical health, clinical quality, and social risk, and reported results of a social needs assessment  among its membership. Stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem are turning their attention and prioritizing these factors needed to advance healthcare.

Meet us at ISPOR 2024 in Atlanta, GA to learn more about the validation of race/ethnicity data available in the HIRD.

Another key trend, patient centricity, appears at #8 in the latest report. The report sketches the benefits of patient-centered research (PCR) and describes recent published guidance from regulators, health technology assessment institutions, research funders, and patient advocacy groups on best practices for involving patients in research. Nevertheless, the report also notes that “Too often, patients are not included or are not included early enough in research.” This applies not only to clinical research but also to HEOR.

Our PCR team has a long tradition of collecting patient data directly from individuals, using the HIRD as a sampling frame, and integrating these outcomes with other data sources, such as claims, to provide a more comprehensive view of lived experience with the condition and/or intervention of interest. The team is also growing its network with patient advocacy organizations to support high-quality patient engagement in study design, conduct, and dissemination.

Direct input from patients – whether from primary or secondary sources – is important and encourages clients to use these insights to guide and prioritize research or programmatic decisions in cases where the patient is the end-user. While this approach does take more time and financial resources, such effort results in research that is more relevant, feasible, and trustworthy.

Watch our latest patient-centered research webinar featuring collaborators from the life sciences industry and patient advocacy groups.

While ‘trends’ change, many of ISPOR’s top 10 have remained steady over the past years with several ascending to higher spots on the list. Such topics and concepts appear to be of increasing value and importance to multiple stakeholders, including payers and policymakers.  

Connect with us at booth #425 at ISPOR in Atlanta, GA to continue the discussion.

*Recently replaced by the EU’s “HMA-EMA Catalogue of RWD studies”.