The Official News & Technical Journal Of The International Society For Pharmacoeconomics And Outcomes Research

Incoming Presidential Address

Peter Davey, MD, FRCP 2002-2003 ISPOR President 
When Bryan Luce asked if I would consider being a candidate for President of ISPOR last year, it did not take more than a moment to decide. I would not have saddled myself with a title like "Professor in Pharmacoeonomics" unless I had more than a passing interest in the subject. ISPOR is a very successful organization run by an incredibly efficient executive director and staff, with an increasingly diverse international membership. So, with no hesitation in standing for election, but what do I do now I have got the job?

A colleague gave me a quote that is attributed to Petronius Arbitor, the Roman Governor of Bithynia in the first Century AD
"We trained hard but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralization."

Poor Petronius committed suicide in AD 65. He would not have lasted long in contemporary academia, healthcare or industry either if he had a low threshold for reorganization. Nowadays most people survive long enough to see their organization go through enough changes to end up exactly the way it was the day that they joined. Consequently, the first decision of your incoming President of ISPOR is "don�t re-organize".

At ISPOR�s excellent website (, you can find a clear diagram setting out the structure of ISPOR�s committees and taskforces. There is a very active Student Network and Student Council with an ever-increasing number of Student Chapters in the USA plus recently established Chapters in Canada and the UK. These students are ISPOR�s future. They have made a clear commitment to pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research at an early stage in their careers. They are already devoting time and energy to ISPOR because ISPOR is already doing a lot to encourage student members. The membership fee for students is about to be reduced, their registration fees for conferences are enticingly low and they are actively encouraged to present their work at meetings. They are members of an organization that has a clear vision to ensure that cutting edge methodology improves decision-making in the real world. ISPOR is achieving its vision through an increasingly successful
journal (Value in Health), a Health Sciences Committee, and a recently established Strategic Outreach Committee.

Nonetheless, the students have understandable concerns about their careers despite the fact that people like me are always telling them that there is a world shortage of well-qualified researchers. Easy for me to say, what exactly do I mean by "well-qualified"? The answer to the question is to define the outcomes of education and training. As an organization committed to outcomes research, ISPOR should be equally committed to outcomes based education. Outcome based education is neither a new concept nor a passing phase in educational technology. This approach stems from the education for capability movement, which recognised that the aim of education should be to equip people with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that they will require to fulfill their roles in society. Implicit in the concept of outcome based education is the importance of life long learning. This requires the student to develop skills in self-education and the motivation to apply these skills after qualification. Outcome based education defines what the learner is accountable for. It is not about telling teachers how to teach or learners how to learn. Learning outcomes determine what is taught and what is assessed. They can help to identify what is and is not essential, and hence to define the core curriculum for education.
Figure 1:
ISPOR Committees and Learning Outcomes Task Force Synergy.

(Chairs: Karen Rascati, RPh, PhD, ISPOR Education Committee, University of Texas, TX, USA: John Hutton, BSc, Bphil, ISPOR Health Science Committee, MEDTAP International, London, UK; Michael Drummond, PhD, ISPOR Strategic Outreach Committee, University of York, York, UK; Lieven Annemans, MSc, PhD, Mman, ISPOR Learning Outcomes TaskForce, University of Ghent, Meise, Belgium.)

Defining the outcomes of learning does not place any constraints on the methods used for teaching, learning, assessment, or curriculum planning. Nonetheless, using learning outcomes does result in greater clarity in curriculum design and makes it much easier for students to know what to learn and what opportunities they have to help them achieve their objectives. Similarly this process provides teachers with a clear set of goals and helps them to develop learning opportunities for their students.

An outcome-based approach is increasingly being adopted by agencies charged with assessment of medical curricula. In the United States the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) is responsible for undergraduate education. The AAMC has a database for each medical school that includes the medical school�s definition of their learning outcomes. The American Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has defined six outcomes of postgraduate medical education for residency programs. These are a description of the competencies that will be expected of a new practitioner.

ISPOR has already taken a major step towards defining learning outcomes by establishing a Health Sciences Committee. They set up six task forces to address good research practice, ethics and use of pharmacoeconomics information by healthcare decision makers. I have asked Lieven Annemens to establish a Learning Outcomes Task Force, under the umbrella of ISPOR�s Education Committee but with a clear remit to work with the Health Sciences and the Strategic Outreach Committees (Figure 1). The first objectives of this Task Force will be to define learning outcomes for pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research and to work with the Health Sciences Task Forces to develop case studies for learning and teaching these outcomes. This will have to be a very interactive process and I would like to finish by asking for your help. Please be ready to comment on early outputs from the Learning Outcomes Task Force as they become available on the ISPOR website.

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