Thursday, July 18, 2013

Evaluating “Value”: How Do We Foster Innovation in Today’s Cost-Conscious Healthcare Environment?

Two out of three participants in a recent FasterCures workshop believe that patients’ needs and priorities are not driving decisions made by payers, innovators, and providers. To have a stronger grasp on the role the patient can and must play in reimbursement decisions, FasterCures and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation convened a one-day multi-stakeholder workshop earlier this month titled, “Value and Innovation: What Will the New Day Look Like for Patients?”
Fifty-three leaders participated from across the four Ps – venture philanthropy patientorganizations from TRAIN (the Research Acceleration and Innovation Network), biotechnology and pharmaceutical company executives, payers (public and private), and provider organizations.
Anchoring the day-long conversation, the first of five sessions focused on the stakes for patients in a cost-constrained environment, and how patients and their advocates can help shape the dialogue and decisions about who will pay for development of new treatments and rising healthcare costs. An overview of the Affordable Care Act followed, providing important context to the conversation about curbing health care costs. Next, the group focused on resources and infrastructure for research being created by innovative patient foundations – and how these groups are doing more and more to transform both the path toward cure and care for their disease. The fourth session looked into the types and sources of evidence payers use and are looking for to make informed reimbursement decisions. Finally, participants dug into the meaning of the term “value” and how new payment and delivery models are driving the definition of value and affecting innovation.
Five themes surfaced during the dynamic discussion:
  1. Patient-relevant outcomes will ultimately drive the definition of value: Patient engagement in all stages of drug and device research and development, care delivery and payment decisions is vital. Determining and measuring outcomes that are important to patients is an emerging area of research and practice that will require experimentation and refinement.
  2. Innovators and patients need to understand the evidentiary needs of payers: Defining what evidence is needed and collecting it at the earliest possible point can help drive toward a shared understanding of value across all stakeholder groups. High quality evidence is needed to make regulatory and payment decisions and will ultimately be generated through both traditional and novel study designs and analytical methods.
  3. Better data is needed to make better decisions: A lot of data and information is being collected and stored from multiple sources across multiple platforms. Agreeing on standards and facilitating stronger interoperability would enable sample sizes to grow and better evidence to be harvested for the benefit of all stakeholders.
  4. All stakeholders agree that it’s imperative to remove waste from the healthcare system: Up to 50 percent of healthcare delivered is of uncertain value and this uncertainty impacts all stakeholders. Cost pressures can force payers into the uncomfortable role of being “watchdogs” for quality and the evidence available to make decisions is uneven and may be applied inconsistently by different payers in the system.
  5. The concept of value is derived from the total cost of a patient’s care, not the cost of an individual product: There is a strong need to unite sources of information about costs of care delivered in different settings by different providers, including family caregivers, and to identify means to calculate savings achieved through prevention and avoidance of harms. Costs of individual products are important but not sufficient to inform decisions about effective care to achieve better health outcomes for the individual and the broader population.
The call to cut waste out of the health care system and streamline the process of finding, delivering, and paying for the best possible therapy was a resounding theme.  Patient groups may also find themselves in the unfamiliar position of having to advocate for reducing inefficient treatments and care for their own patients out of the system.
Participants concurred that innovation and value aren’t mutually exclusive concepts and in fact need to be mutually reinforcing. Balancing the real-world competitive market factors for innovators and payers while striving to meet patient needs will require transparency, flexibility, communication, and – above all – trust within and between stakeholder groups.
These are issues of growing concern to many organizations with diverse constituencies and you’ll be hearing more about them. FasterCures will issue a detailed report on the workshop and its outcomes and an upcoming blog post will focus on recommendations generated at the workshop.