Health Economics and Outcomes Research in the Era of COVID-19

Published May 14, 2020

HEOR and Health Policy Experts Share Their Experiences on COVID-19

Virtual ISPOR 2020 Plenary: HEOR in the Era of COVID-19Lawrenceville, NJ, USA—May 14, 2020—ISPOR—The Professional Society for Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR) held a plenary session today, “HEOR in the Era of COVID-19,” that featured a number of HEOR and health policy thought leaders discussing the rapidly evolving global COVID-19 crisis and the implications for short-term and long-term healthcare decisions. This timely plenary session was offered free to all (both ISPOR members and nonmembers) and preceded the Society’s annual international conference—Virtual ISPOR 2020—that is being held online May 18-20, 2020.

Mark McClellan, MD, PhD; Director, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy in Washington, DC, USA delivered the keynote address, “COVID-19: Accelerating the Evidence to Inform Our Response.” Noting that COVID-19 will be with us for some time, Dr McClellan spoke to the recent publication by the American Enterprise Institute, National Coronavirus Response: A Roadmap for Reopening. Noting that we need to gradually move away from a reliance on physical distancing as the primary tool for controlling the spread of coronavirus, he outlined 3 key requirements to achieve this goal: (1) better data to identify areas of spread and the rate of exposure and immunity; (2) improvements in state and local healthcare system capabilities; and (3) therapeutic, prophylactic, and preventative treatments.

Dr McClellan also spoke to the recent report by the Duke Margolis Center for Health Policy, A National COVID-19 Surveillance System: Achieving Containment, that describes the features and capabilities of a national surveillance system to mitigate the current COVID-19 pandemic wave and to limit and suppress future outbreaks. Many states are reopening without meeting the US White House gating criteria, which is tracked by Dr McClellan stressed that therapeutics are “our way out of this,” with a variety of emerging types of COVID vaccines in development.

In summary, Dr McClellan spoke to the long-term consequences of COVID-19 that include the continued need for containment steps (eg, potential need for repeat vaccinations); the redesign of healthcare (eg, telemedicine and community-based care); and changes in the development, use, and payment for medical technologies (eg, enhanced data sharing, more robust distribution chains). Expecting real, lasting change in how healthcare is delivered due to the impact of COVID-19, Dr McClellan also cautioned that there is much uncertainty around exactly how the future will unfold.

Following the keynote session, the panel discussed, “COVID-19: A Global Call to Action for Health Economics and Outcomes Researchers.” Jalpa A. Doshi, PhD; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA moderated the session and panelists included:

  • Andrew H. Briggs, MSc, DPhil; London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, England, UK
  • Nuria Oliver, PhD; Data-Pop Alliance, Vodafone Institute, and ELLIS, Alicante, Spain
  • John H. Powers, MD; George Washington University School of Medicine and University of Maryland School of Medicine, Rockville, MD, USA
  • Leo Yee-Sin, MPH; National Centre for Infectious Diseases, Singapore

Nuria Oliver, PhD spoke about the Data Science for COVID-19 Task Force, which is a team of experts who work closely with the President of the Valencian Region in Spain. Dr Oliver is also the Commissioner for AI and COVID-19 at the Valencian Government. The goal of the Task Force is to assist in better decision making during the coronavirus pandemic through the analysis of data. The Task Force’s work has been recognized—Politico recently reported on their efforts in an article, “Politico AI: Decoded: How AI Is Helping Fight a Pandemic—Insights From Valencia.” The Task Force has also deployed a Coronavirus Impact Survey that has seen more than 200,000 people respond to date. Dr Oliver noted that this survey is an example of how experts and citizens can work together and contribute to evidence-driven public policy making.

Leo Yee-Sin, MPH spoke about her experience in dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak in her role as Executive Director of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID). The NCID is a 330-bed purpose-built facility designed to strengthen Singapore’s capacity and capability in infectious diseases that is scalable to more than 500 beds. Singapore’s previous experience in dealing with viral outbreaks helped to prepare and inform the country’s response to COVID-19.

John H. Powers, MD spoke about the use of the InFLUenza Patient-Reported Outcome (FLU-PRO) that was developed for viral respiratory tract infections in 2009 during H1N1 influenza outbreak. FLU-PRO quantifies symptom severity in influenza and influenza-like illness. It was developed by a team of investigators across multiple sites under Dr Powers’ direction. FLU-PRO is currently being used in multiple COVID-19 projects including broad public surveys, natural history studies, and clinical trials across the globe.

Andrew H. Briggs, MSc, DPhil—an expert in epidemiological modeling—spoke about how we can move beyond the simple metric of “lives saved” and noted the importance of “leaving infectious disease epidemiology to the experts.” He pointed out that the focus thus far has been on the burden of COVID-19 directly. However, the approach can be extended to look at indirect effects as well, such as delays in routine treatment, lockdown impact on immunization, and economic impacts on health. Dr Briggs noted that this pandemic can teach us about the economics of preparedness. He also shared a spreadsheet tool that can be downloaded from his article, “Moving Beyond ‘Lives Saved’ From COVID-19.”

Virtual ISPOR 2020 will follow this special preconference plenary session next week on May 18-20, 2020. The virtual conference will feature 3 topical plenary sessions, issue panels, workshops, podium presentations, and educational symposia. Virtual ISPOR 2020 is offering registrants nearly 60 hours of programming content that can be accessed live with on-demand recordings available through June 30. The ISPOR Essential HEOR Education Short Course Program will also be presented virtually with a variety of course topics and dates offered in June and July.

Additional information can be found at: 
COVID-19 PlenaryVirtual ISPOR 2020  |  Program  |  Registration Information  |  Short Courses  |  Press



ISPOR, the professional society for health economics and outcomes research (HEOR), is an international, multistakeholder, nonprofit dedicated to advancing HEOR excellence to improve decision making for health globally. The Society is the leading source for scientific conferences, peer-reviewed and MEDLINE®-indexed publications, good practices guidance, education, collaboration, and tools/resources in the field.
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