Messages from the ISPOR Presidents
Eva Lydick PhD
2001- 2002 President
I begin my final remarks as I did my initial remarks as President of ISPOR. We recognize that there are three dimensions to health care - quality, access, and affordability. The problem facing all societies is how to balance the three. This is what ISPOR is about - the trade-offs and compromises to maximize quality care, accessibility for all, and affordability. These trade-offs are not easy, either technically or politically. We have demonstrated skills on the technical side to ensure that value can be demonstrated and quantified, but we are still striving to better bridge the policy gap. This will require that we communicate better with decision-makers as well as those who have not always been seen as our customers. The past year has been one of increasingly vocal complaints of the high cost of medical care and, especially, drug therapy. With the rise of consumer power in health care, we are faced with millions more decision-makers and decision-makers looking for different information and information presented in a way relevant to them.
At the same time we are being asked to provide relevant information at the individual level, there remain unanswered questions at the most macro level - how much should health care costs society; how do we balance this need against other needs? And supposing that question is answered, how do we optimally allocate the health care spending of the society? These are areas where ISPOR needs to be involved. In order to bridge the gap between us and decisions-makers and consumers, we need to think in terms larger than individual products or product classes. To that end, ISPOR has made links with the World Health Organization and the World Bank.
There are a number of diverse questions that relate to balancing costs (of all kinds) and potential benefits. It is not unreasonable to see ISPOR at the forefront of risk management or at the very least, risk assessment. We can provide information that will help consumers as well as policy makers in their decisions if we care to do so. We may also need to do some of the bridging ourselves. Instead of expecting that decision-makers will eventually convert to methods of assessment of efficiency favored by us, we may need to better understand exactly what they want and need and the format that is most useful. To this end, the new ISPOR Managed Care Special Interest Group may help. In addition, to continue and expand this dialog, we created a new strategic outreach committee to identify other organizations with which we could, and should, be collaborating. While we have more challenges ahead, the positive message is that ISPOR is being viewed as a source for knowledge and expertise and a resource for educating practitioners as well as the users of outcomes information.
The fields of outcomes research and health economics have come of age. I am delighted that during my term the Society chose to create a Life Time Achievement Award in Outcomes Research in honor of Avedis Donabedian. I was able to present the award to our first recipient, Dr. John E. Ware, Jr. During my term, our journal Value in Health achieved Medline indexing - a feat which I can take no credit for - but which I can join in recognizing as a wonderful milestone and representative of the strength of ISPOR. To the end of ensuring the continued success and credibility of our journal, the Board unanimously endorsed the guidelines of the World Association of Medical Editors.
We have lots to do, but that is a good thing. We are being recognized as the premier organization in the area of outcomes research and that is a good thing. The Society has many, many exceptional and motivated members and that is the best thing. It is the contribution and breadth of expertise of all of our members and our executive office that makes us a strong and dynamic organization.