The central aim of the VPHOP project is to improve the current management of osteoporosis by predicting the risk of bone fracture much more accurately than presently possible. For impacting on the clinical practice, research and development of the predictive technologies alone will not suffice; therefore VPHOP also ensures the provision of empirical evidence about the clinical and socio-economic benefits. Project partner empirica, in collaboration with IOR and the VPHOP consortium, has recently completed the first annual VPHOP technology assessment. The preliminary cost-benefit analysis substantiates that VPHOP technologies, when incorporated in the design of future clinical pathways for osteoporosis, can fulfil the VPH promises of reducing costs and improving the quality of care for European health systems.
By concluding the developments of the VPHOP technology assessment framework, empirica, in collaboration with all clinical and technological partners, delivered the first estimates and results of the impact assessment for the second year of the project. An innovative socio-economic and technology assessment method will continuously and dynamically evaluate the various technologies as they are being developed and refined during the course of the project. The formative layout will help guiding and focussing the research on those options which are most promising. In essence, the technology assessment method has been designed to compare the efficacy and costs of the current standard of care clinical pathway of osteoporosis with the multilayer clinical pathway (diagnosis, prognosis and treatment) developed for VPHOP by the technical partners. This comparison takes into consideration both the improvement of the accuracy in predicting bone fractures and the cost-benefit ratio of the new technology.
In November 2010, the first annual assessment was completed with very encouraging results, indicating that already minor improvements in the technology components and models of the VPHOP pathways will be sufficient to arrive at a positive cost-benefit ratio as compared to the current standard of care. As with most new medical technologies, for VPHOP technologies to benefit osteoporotic patients, extra investments will be necessary. Yet the benefits from the increased predictive accuracy, that is, additional fractures avoided, will exceed the overall costs to clinically employ the VPHOP hypermodel.
While there have been many advances in recent years in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, osteoporosis continues to be a major health threat for more than 75 million people in Europe, USA and Japan. The biggest concern for individuals with the disease is fractures, and every year osteoporosis causes more than 3,7 million in Europe. Fractures can have a profound impact on quality of life – often leading to pain, disability, loss of independence, and even death. Osteoporosis also takes a huge economic toll on both individuals and society. Fractures from osteoporosis cost the EU nearly €31.7 billion each year and that number is only going to rise as our population ages.With VPHOP, the fight against osteoporosis has a new ally. With the VPHOP socio-economic technology assessment, the project has advanced yet another step. For the remainder of VPHOP, the assessment will be applied twice within the next two years and is intended to contribute to guiding the further research developments – based on actual value for money and realistic impact potentials for the clinical management of one the most devastating conditions in Europe.