Messages from the ISPOR Presidents

Scott Ramsey, MD, PhD

Scott Ramsey, MD, PhD

2010-2011 ISPOR President
Member, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Washington
Seattle, WA, USA

I would like to start briefly with a couple of statistics on our organization. The growth of ISPOR now represents more than 5,800 members from 92 countries. But perhaps our growth looks even more impressive when we look at our regional chapters (Fig. 1). The latest chapter is Mongolia, which has a representative attending the 16th Annual Meeting. Including our chapters, we now have over 10,000 members in this organization. That we now have passed this milestone is a testament to all the energy and drive of our members. The ISPOR membership should be applauded for this accomplishment!

When you are in a family this large, sometimes difficulties happen within the family. Below is a picture of the ISPOR Japan Regional Chapter office after the earthquake in March of 2011. I can only imagine how difficult it was to work after that happened. After the earthquake, however, the Chapter past-presidents, Isao Kamae and Shunya Ikeda, continued to work on the Japanese translation of the ISPOR Book of Terms, and amazingly, the book was produced on time and on schedule. I would like to recognize our Japanese counterparts and thank them for their efforts to support ISPOR during extreme difficulty. Our thoughts and hopes are with you and your countrymen for the speedy resolution of this terrible calamity.

I would like to speak briefly about one of the major initiatives that we worked on during my year as President: our new strategic planning initiative, VISION 2020. Why was VISION 2020 needed? We all recognize that there are many opportunities and challenges facing health care systems and outcomes research around the world. With regards to health systems, there are many forces. Health care is globalizing. The global economic downturn is forcing systems to be more efficient in how they deliver health care services. Health care is becoming more personalized with emphasis on finding genomic and nongenomic ways to tailor therapies to individuals. These changes are bringing an increasing demand for more outcomes research information. With regards to outcomes research, there are also many issues. Outcomes research itself is growing in terms of the number of disciplines it encompasses. Outcomes researchers increasingly rely on health information technology for health technology assessments. With the ever-increasing complexity of our systems, we are going to need to continually improve our methods for research. And frankly, ISPOR is supporting a growth industry. Unlike many of the industries in the world, we are going to need to expand our workforce.

Many of the current and past leaders of ISPOR gathered in March for the VISION 2020 strategic planning initiative. We met to consider what the organization needs to do over the next ten years to continue to make it relevant and impactful to you, its members. Let us consider whom ISPOR touches as an organization. When we consider the scope of ISPOR, we have many spheres of influence; researchers, regulators, assessors, payers, providers, patients and society (Fig. 2). We would like ISPOR to be impactful to all of these groups. But, of course, in reality our influence tends to fade as we get farther and farther away from our organization. We also realize that the more that we can be impactful farther out into these outer spheres, the more relevant our organization becomes and the more meaningful our work is, both within the society and within our own organizations.

So with that, the VISION 2020 Task Force came up with the following vision statement: That ISPOR is recognized globally as the authority for outcomes research and its use in health care decisions, towards improving health. We want to be the place where decision makers around the world turn to when they have questions or are in need of guidance for health outcomes and health economics research, whether or not they are members of our organization. The Task Force also revised our mission statement. I think it reflects well the aspirations of our membership. Our mission is to increase the efficiency, the effectiveness and the fairness with which available healthcare resources are used to improve health.

To further our mission, the task force identified three initiatives to concentrate on in our strategic plan for the next few years. The first, not surprisingly, is to continue to strengthen our research. The second is to improve our outreach and our work in education. The third is an area that we haven’t spent as much time on in this organization: communication. We must improve our efforts in communicating both the good work we do and the relevance of our good work to those external circles.

I’d like to give a little more detail about each of our three initiatives. In the research, area we feel it is very important to promote the access, appropriate use, and understanding of the limitations of health care data to inform health care decisions. Every country in the world is working on improving their information infrastructure, establishing electronic data systems, and other systems to track what is going on with health care and outcomes of their citizens. And we realize that, and we need as a society, to be taking the lead in terms of how to best use that data.

Of course, we are a society that is known for fostering good research methods with our task forces and our best practices reports. Those will continue. We will always need to have those as a focus for our organization.

Education is another key initiative. We will continue to invest in education, but the VISION 2020 Task Force realizes that it is important to develop a comprehensive development plan for expanding human capital in outcomes research to meet growing global demand. Because this is a growth field, we must be an organization that fosters new talent. We will consider ways to build our workforce across all of the disciplines that we touch through educational programs that advance skills and knowledge.

Our final initiative is in the area of communication. This may be the most challenging initiative to implement for VISION 2020. Many of us are outstanding researchers, and we produce really significant work as part of our daily lives. But when it comes to communicating that information to the end users--the decision-makers, the physicians, the nurses, the patients— that job becomes quite difficult for many of us, for many reasons. One of the most important reasons is that most of us don’t have the training. So the task force has emphasized that it wants ISPOR to be an organization that can help you become effective communicators of your good work, both to your communities and around the world.

To be effective communicators we are going to have to collaborate with and learn from organizations that are experts in communication. ISPOR also needs to provide networks so that you don’t have to figure out where to go to get the word out about your research. ISPOR should be there to help you when your paper is published or when you do a presentation, so that disseminating beyond the confines of the building where we are presenting it is easy and effective. We also need to think about new venues for disseminating our research between our meetings. Getting to new audiences, possibly using new media forms may be the key to expanding the impact of the work we do.

In his Incoming Presidential Address, Mark Sculpher will be talking about our implementation plan, which at this point is very high level. My invitation to you is to look at the implementation plan and consider how you could help make it specific and actionable. Implementing VISION 2020 will be an enormous task, and it cannot and should not be done only by the leadership. We need help from all of you.

Messages from the ISPOR Presidents