A pharmaceutical executive working in the field of health outcomes tells former HOC editor David Woods how he deals with this issue.

The best way to communicate value in a product using economics is to know your customers: find out their issues and their language. Look closely at what the product has to offer. Ask: who do I show it to, and in what format? Approaches to clinicians and to payers will be different. Value means different things to different people.

For instance, when you’re dealing with marketers it’s mainly about saving money; with clinicians it’s more about health benefits, survival, quality of life.

But you have to stay up to date with several markets so that you understand them fully – and be flexible enough to help meet local needs while building on assumptions that are universally accepted.

Not only that, but the hard part is to keep a strategic vision all the time – to anticipate market needs two or three years ahead. “You can’t afford to wake up and find that you’ve missed out on some new requirements for economic modelling. In fact, you wear two hats – technology expert and strategist.”

Asked about the state of value analysis for, say, absenteeism and productivity issues in the workplace, the reply was that again this depends on the customer; but in general at this stage it’s a “nice to have” concept. Beyond that, there’s an intergenerational issue looming: an increasing population of elderly means weighing value towards unmet solutions to chronic disease.

In the final analysis, though, value and how to achieve it must be broadcast through various media. “As a researcher in a field that’s still relatively new, I recognize that there’s lots to do. I publish abstracts on registry data and on new ways of analyzing data. You have to have the confidence that your recipients are getting the ‘real McCoy’, and because of the evolving models of economic analysis, you need to get the word out. Data that aren’t published are worth very little.”