Message from the Director

 

Laura T. Pizzi, PharmD, MPH

Laura T. Pizzi, PharmD, MPH

Dear friends,

We live in an exciting era of unprecedented medical advancements. Innovative cures for diseases like cancer, hepatitis, and others have greatly improved human health. Yet, this innovation comes with a price. Research and development costs for new drug therapies range in the billions of dollars, and increasingly, advances are being made for rare diseases or defined sub-populations of common diseases. As a result, these treatments come at prices that were unimaginable a decade ago.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have established low cost interventions which may already be routine care but are underused. For example, despite widespread availability of vaccines for common diseases like flu, pneumonia, and shingles, data suggest that these vaccination rates among older adults are below public health goals.

Meanwhile, healthcare costs and coverage remain a challenge in not only the US, but globally. The sophistication of evidence informing payment decisions is increasing, and so is the complexity of processes being used by government and private payers to evaluate such evidence.

These factors combined point to how complex healthcare has become, and how as a society we will be increasingly faced with tough decisions requiring solid evidence about real world costs and outcomes of health-improving interventions.

The Health Outcomes, Policy, and Economic (HOPE) program at Rutgers develops this solid evidence. We specialize in formal economic and outcome analysis of pharmaceuticals and other innovations in the context of care. We use established data sets to research these issues, and also conduct cross sectional and prospective studies. Budget impact and cost effectiveness simulation models which integrate findings from our original research and/or others’ research are another key area of our work.

An important underpinning of our work at HOPE is the understanding that health interventions are not delivered in silos; rather they are delivered as part of models or systems of care. Thus, our projects typically entail analyses of systems and how the implementation of a treatment affects those systems. For example, a new dementia treatment might impact healthcare utilization of the dementia patient as well as their caregiver, in the context of the healthcare system. It may also have impacts on the social system, for example social worker visits or home caregiver support.

At HOPE, we also believe in engaging with the stakeholders involved in these complex decisions– healthcare providers, patients, healthcare payers, and innovator companies such as pharmaceutical, device, and diagnostic manufacturers. Our philosophy is that in order to develop useful evidence on the value of treatments, we must recognize that value is defined differently depending on each stakeholder’s needs and priorities.

Consistent with our research priorities, we are committed to developing a highly skilled workforce of professionals able to conduct and communicate cost and outcome analyses. To that end, we offer an exceptional Master of Science degree as well as post-doctoral fellowships. Our graduates have gone on to lead successful careers in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry as well as academia.

In summary, we’re on a mission to improve healthcare decisions, and ultimately population health as a whole. Won’t you join us?

Sincerely,

Laura T. Pizzi, PharmD, MPH
Professor and Director
Center for Health Outcomes, Policy, and Economics