Making HEOR More Accessible to Patients

Written by David Thompson on Wednesday 1st February 2023

The Health Economics & Outcomes Research (HEOR) landscape has long been evolving, but we now find ourselves in the midst of a revolution. In tandem with a shift in healthcare towards greater personalization, there are three key technological drivers of rapid change in both healthcare delivery and HEOR: big data, cloud-based computing, and artificial intelligence (AI). 

It is interesting to observe the foundational role that patient centricity must play if we are to maximize the potential of these technological drivers to improve individual, systemic, and societal outcomes. Indeed, if we fail to emphasize patient centricity, healthcare delivery risks being driven by a set of automated, algorithm-based processes, loudly crunching through reams of health data, such that the patient’s voice in treatment decisions gets completely drowned out amidst the statistical noise. 

Patients, caregivers, and those that advocate for them are therefore taking greater ownership of their health outcomes and data. Activating these communities as partners in HEOR will create virtuous circles for improving and accelerating the HEOR process and, ultimately, creating better health outcomes. Patients’ early and sustained involvement in the research process will generate better data sources and enable more effective communications. This, in turn, will drive faster and better decision-making and eventually lead to broader access. This is an underappreciated aspect of what is sometimes called “the learning healthcare system.” 

To enable a truly patient-centric approach to HEOR, we need to both involve patients in the research process and improve the way we communicate the results. We need to be mindful of how we partner with patients, acting with transparency, humility, inclusiveness, and a willingness to listen carefully and take action thoughtfully. To guide the industry in achieving this aim, we have outlined a spectrum of patient participation. This can help stakeholders assess the appropriate level of patient engagement for individual projects and strategize how this can potentially evolve over time. 

We need to change the language we use to make it more understandable to those outside the HEOR world, including members of the general public with various backgrounds. We must also focus on the things that are most meaningful to patients. The research process and our communications should be centered on these things to effectively demonstrate their value and accelerate change. In addition, we need to engage in ways that are compliant with company standards and local regulations and that cultivate the trust of the patient communities that we strive to serve. 

Given the critical importance of patient centricity within the current revolution in HEOR, we are pleased to share our thinking on the topic in this whitepaper. This is a collaborative project drawing on expertise from across our numerous functions focused on HEOR, communications and, of course, patient writing and health psychology. The power of this collaboration gives us a unique skill set that we leverage to deliver patient centricity within research processes. We look forward to further dialogue with you on this critical enabler of HEOR’s future.


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