Newswise — Barcelona, Spain—12 November 2018—ISPOR, the professional society for health economics and outcomes research, held a session this morning at ISPOR Europe 2018, “Will Machines Soon Make Health Economists Obsolete?” [IP3], that explored the impact of machine learning on health economics. 

Advances in information technology (IT) and the availability of health data are revolutionizing the field of health economics and outcomes research (HEOR). In this session, speakers discussed how IT advances may impact the field and asked the provocative question, “Will artificial intelligence enable payers, providers, and patients to conduct their own HEOR analysis without the expertise of health economists?” Speakers included:

  • Moderator: David Thompson, PhD, Syneos Health, Boston, MA, USA
  • Gerry Oster, PhD, Policy Analysis Inc, Brookline, MA, USA
  • Bill Marder, PhD, MA, IBM Watson Health, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • Michael Drummond, MCom, DPhil, University of York, Heslington, York, UK 

The field of HEOR has grown tremendously in the past 25 years with the development of methodologic techniques that help address challenging analytic issues with the steady increases in computing power. Advances in IT, data storage, cloud-based computing, and artificial intelligence are creating an environment where the analytic expertise of health economists may become less critical to generate insights for health system stakeholders. This type of transformative change can currently be seen in pharmacoepidemiology in the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Sentinel Initiative that generates safety surveillance data on a semi-automatic basis. 

Dr Marder described how machine learning can automate analyses of patient-level databases. Dr Oster explained how economic modeling can be facilitated through web-based graphical user interfaces without the need for programming expertise. Dr Drummond offered the contrarian perspective and argued that health economists are still critical to the field despite these technological advances. 

ISPOR is recognized globally as the leading professional society in HEOR and its role in improving healthcare decisions. ISPOR Europe 2018 is the leading HEOR conference in Europe and draws more than 5000 healthcare stakeholders, including researchers and academicians, assessors and regulators, payers and policy makers, the life sciences industry, and patient engagement organizations. 

Additional information on ISPOR Europe 2018 can be found here. Released presentations from the conference can be found here. Interested parties can follow news and developments from the conference on social media using the hashtag #ISPORBarcelona.



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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Meeting Link: ISPOR Europe 2018