Mark J. Sculpher, PhD, Professor of Health Economics
Centre of Health Economics, University of York, York, UK
2011-2012 ISPOR President


I would  like  to  begin  by  sharing  some  details regarding   the   continued   success   of   ISPOR over  the  last  12  months.  Firstly,  a  look  at  our membership numbers: we have had year-on-year growth in our membership since the society was founded in 1995. Our membership now stands at over 6200 members.

One of ISPOR’s great success stories, however, is the regional chapters from all over the world which are such an integral part of our organisation. We now have 58 chapters total, including two recently approved chapters – Romania and Andhra Pradesh in India. When we include those individuals associated with chapters, our membership has now reached 11,000, more than a doubling in 4 years.

This international growth is testament to our success in making ISPOR resources accessible to across a range of languages. For example, our Good Practices for Outcomes Research reports are now being translated into 14 different languages. These documents continue to be one of the most influential outputs from our organisation. In 2011, we saw 5 new good practices reports published including one in prospective observational studies, two relating to content validity in patient-reported outcome measures and two focusing on indirect comparison and network meta-analysis. There are now 30 good practices reports available which, together, resulted in 116,000 downloads over the last 12 months.

Of the many contributions in the area of education perhaps the most notable is the programme of short courses which we offer at our meetings. Organised into 6 tracks made up of economic methods, patient reported outcomes, outcomes research methods, observational analysis methods, use of outcomes research data and modelling methods, these courses have now attracted 18,000 participants since 2004.

In terms of communications, we continually strive to increase the accessibility of our outcomes research to decision makers. One approach to this has been to provide press releases for papers appearing in Value in Health. Over the last 9 months or so, we have seen a pronounced increase in interest in these documents, with 80,000 online views both in April and May.

So ISPOR remains a thriving and successful organisation, but it is important not to rest on our laurels. Like any organisation we need to review ways in which we can continue to provide benefits to the current and future membership. Last year, our then President Scott Ramsey described the activities undertaken under Vision 2020, a root and branch review of strategic challenges and opportunities facing ISPOR and areas for potential initiatives in the Society over the remainder of the decade. This process began with a Board retreat in March 2011 which, as well as specifying the vision and mission of the Society going forward, established some broad strategic areas for development. The implementation of new initiatives in these areas was put in the hands of a Vision 2020 Implementation Task Force which started work last year. The Task Force has been organised into three working groups focusing on research, education and communications under the leadership of Ansgar Hebborn, Sean Sullivan and Shelby Reed, respectively.

One of the key tasks of the working groups was to get the views of the ISPOR membership on the needs of the Society over coming years. We are grateful to all those who took the time to complete the online survey during May. Although we are still reviewing these data, some important insights are emerging including the need to fill some important gaps in our good practices in outcomes research reports, a consistent view across all regions of the continued need to addresses shortages of appropriately trained outcomes researchers and some interesting variation in how researchers and decision makers explain the lack of impact of outcomes research on decisions.

An important stage in gaining insight from the membership survey, in defining new initiatives and prioritising future developments was a leadership retreat held on the Saturday before our the International Meeting in Washington, DC. This included about 80 representatives from key groups within ISPOR including the Student Faculty Advisory Council, the Institutional Council, the Health Society Policy Council, the Latin America and Asia Consortia and ISPOR Regional Chapters. The Task Force will be assimilating the wealth of ideas and information which came out of this meeting with the aim of crystallising this into a series of distinct initiatives which will be presented over the next 6 to 12 months.

But Vision 2020 has already delivered some important developments. Value in Health now has a sister journal, Value in Health Regional Issues (ViHRI) focusing on scientific dissemination of interest in particular regions delivered in the languages of those regions. Under the leadership of Co-Editors-in-Chief Bong-Min Yang and Federico Augustovski, the first issue - ViHRI Asia - was published in May 2012 with 18 papers. The second issue will relate to Latin America and will publish papers in English, Spanish and Portuguese. In 2013, an issue with papers from Central and Eastern Europe, Western Asia and Africa will be published.

At the 17th Annual International Meeting, the Communications Working Group of the Vision 2020 Task Force initiated a successful short course in scientific writing. That Working Group also initiated some important media and public relations developments with the support of specialist consultants. The first has been to conduct a series of interviews with stakeholders to understand their perceptions of ISPOR which can help inform further initiatives under Vision 2020. The second was to actively attract greater media participation at our recent International Meeting, and this saw approximately media 20 organisations registering to attend.

It has been a privilege to have the opportunity to be President of such a vibrant and successful organisation as ISPOR over the last 12 months. I would like to thank my colleagues on the Board who have provided great support and wise counsel. Also, my thanks and appreciation go to Marilyn Dix Smith and her staff whose diligence and skill central to the enduring success of ISPOR. Finally, I would like to provide my best wishes to Deborah Marshall who succeeds me as President on July 1, 2012.

Messages from the ISPOR Presidents