Author: Jennifer Bright, MPA

Everyone hopes for a COVID vaccine so our lives can return to normal. Yet, we know that even if clinical trials prove a vaccine’s effectiveness, our society will still have to endure a long process of distribution. I’m personally willing to wait for a vaccine for healthcare workers, the elderly, and other vulnerable individuals to receive care first. But decision-makers at all levels must have reliable data that mirrors those subgroups so that all can be confident that such prioritization works. The same goes for any emerging treatments. Regardless of how much the pill or the injection costs, if the intervention is not effective for some due to their unique characteristics, we have wasted the investment.

Early vaccine and treatment trial data related to COVID reveals two takeaways: the breadth and speed with which researchers are generating this vital data, and the importance of understanding the diversity of patient responses and basic endpoints about safety efficacy. We need to understand for whom these treatments and vaccines work optimally to guide our thinking about how to deploy these life-saving technologies efficiently and effectively.

The latter is something we think about every day at IVI, where we know that patient heterogeneity and lived experience are vital to assessing the value of treatments and therapies. The value of a specific intervention is almost always dependent on how well it optimizes care for unique subgroups in the population. Some treatments may work great for men but not for women. Some treatments may be especially effective for Black women but not for older women of Asian descent. Some vaccines may offer considerable protection for the elderly but not for younger people. In short, the global pandemic makes the concept of patient heterogeneity and its role in value assessment even more salient. Our response is to lead collaborative efforts to improve how we identify, prioritize, and integrate patient perspectives and real-world patient data into value assessment.

To further explore the issues confronting our conventional wisdom and methods, IVI has teamed with ISPOR to produce a webinar series, “Value Assessment in the Age of COVID: Meeting the Challenges.”

I hope you can join us on August 27th for the second installment of this series, when our distinguished panel of experts, including Dr. Lou Garrison, Dr. Charles Phelps, Dr. Dan Ollendorf, and Dr. Susan Griffin, will consider what methodological approaches may help us better define value in this challenging environment. Click here to register and for additional information.