Even before the emergence of COVID-19, the significance of real world data to European health policy and programmes was growing – notably in the domain of patient-reported outcomes and their integration by healthcare decision makers into resource allocation decision making, typically undertaken by Health Technology Assessment agencies across Europe.

Arguably, the current pandemic is highlighting how valuable these data will be in future, not only to healthcare but also to research & development and innovation. The realities of societal lockdowns have ushered digital technologies and solutions into the mainstream of health services, from telemedicine and virtual diagnostics to mobile apps and patient. In earlier articles we have reported on digital initiatives led by patient community organisations in response to the pandemic.

Similarly, the unprecedented level of global R&D cooperation to fight the coronavirus is creating a vast data pool, shared across borders, to which a wide spectrum of artificial intelligence, high-performance computing and big data tools are being applied in pursuit of vaccines, treatments, containment and more. If used smartly, these resources will fuel years of scientific endeavour, both within Europe and internationally. And they may have a critical role to play in supporting industrial value chains and an economic recovery that delivers a greener, smarter future for all.

That said, there is much work still to be done to prepare for the era of Real World data. According to OECD analysis, only two countries have the necessary infrastructure in place to manage real time health data flows – but the pandemic may catalyse a fundamental change in political mindsets and willingness to make this happen.

As such, innovative research, combining health economic analytics and expertise in patient and public involvement and engagement will unlock the implications of real world, real time data for the anticipated European Health Data Space. At the European Commission level this is a revitalised European Research Area, as well as other key digital policies such as the European approach to artificial intelligence and data strategy.

For more information on the ideas HCD Economics is exploring, to unlock the future of real world evidence generation and how these can address your evidence needs – contact Lesley Piltz, who will connect you with one of our experts – lesley.piltz@hcdeconomics.com