How Real-World Evidence Enhances Health Economics and Outcomes Research 

This blog is part three in a series exploring the use of real-world evidence to produce meaningful insights in clinical pharma. 

Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR) is a field that determines the cost-effectiveness of drugs, medical devices and other healthcare interventions. It analyzes data from various sources to build evidence around the value of specific interventions, measuring the connection between treatments, cost and real-world outcomes. 

How do HEOR teams support the drug development process?

The role of HEOR teams is to support decision-making throughout the drug development process, from early-stage development to post-market surveillance. They work alongside drug manufacturers to evaluate the economic and clinical value of new therapies. In addition to analyzing the total cost of developing a drug, HEOR researchers assess its impact in the real world, comparing it to other available interventions in order to determine its true impact. 

From here, they collate evidence-based insights that can inform decisions around drug pricing, marketing and commercialization strategies, as it relates to maximizing the drug’s value and accessibility. Furthermore, it can help determine which patient populations are most likely to benefit from the drug, what is the most appropriate dosage, and to what extent it should be reimbursed. 

How do HEOR teams use RWE? 

Real-world evidence (RWE) plays a critical role in their toolkit, providing a broader perspective on a treatment’s value compared to data from clinical trials alone. Here’s how HEOR teams leverage RWE:

  1. Evaluating Long-Term Outcomes: Clinical trials typically have a limited follow-up period, restricting manufacturers’ understanding of a treatment’s long-term effects. RWE, obtained from sources like electronic health records, allows HEOR teams to assess the long-term effectiveness and safety of interventions in real-world settings. This can reveal how a treatment performs over an extended period and identify potential side effects that might not be evident in shorter trials.
  2. Cost-Effectiveness Analysis: A core function of HEOR is to analyze the cost-effectiveness of treatments. RWE provides valuable data on real-world healthcare costs associated with a treatment, including medication prices, hospitalization rates, and physician visits. This allows HEOR teams to create a more comprehensive picture of a treatment’s value proposition.
  3. Understanding Patient Subgroups: Clinical trials often involve controlled populations, which may not reflect the diversity of patients in actual clinical practice. RWE helps HEOR teams understand how a treatment works in real-world patient populations with various characteristics and medical histories. This allows for a more generalizable assessment of the treatment’s effectiveness and cost-effectiveness across diverse patient groups.
  4. Identifying Treatment Patterns: RWE allows HEOR teams to analyze how healthcare providers are prescribing treatments in routine practice. This can reveal potential areas for optimizing treatment pathways and identifying opportunities to improve patient outcomes while managing costs.
  5. Supporting Value-Based Pricing: With the growing focus on value-based healthcare, HEOR teams use RWE to demonstrate the value proposition of a treatment based on real-world outcomes and cost data. This information is crucial for pharmaceutical companies in negotiations with payers (health insurance companies) regarding pricing and reimbursement strategies.

RWE is a powerful tool for HEOR teams, offering a real-world perspective on the value of healthcare interventions. By incorporating RWE alongside traditional clinical trial data, HEOR teams can provide more comprehensive and generalizable insights to inform healthcare decision-making. Ultimately, RWE can empower HEOR teams to enhance their evaluations and contribute significantly to the advancement of value-based healthcare.

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