The pandemic could be a catalyst for broader acceptance of RWE, but medical leaders must take advantage of the opportunity to evangelize RWE for use cases beyond Covid-19.
Medical leaders have long dealt with skepticism around real-world evidence— both from their customers and even from peers in other functional divisions. Despite a growing body of evidence that RWE can provide meaningful insights about efficacy and value, much of the health care industry still views randomized controlled trials (RCTs) as the “gold standard” for evidence.
Covid-19 could be the catalyst to change that assumption. The pressure to diagnose, track, treat, and vaccinate large populations in order to end the pandemic has led many stakeholders to recognize the value of evidence generated outside of an RCT. Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, HCPs relied on early-stage clinical data and anecdotal evidence to inform complex treatment decisions and decide which patients to enroll in clinical trials. Progressive payers and providers created symptom trackers and diagnostic tools to collect RWE about their populations, understand symptom progression, detect at-risk individuals, and direct those individuals to Covid-19 testing sites. Even leaders from FDA—which relied on RWE to support emergency use authorizations and accelerated approval timelines—have stated that FDA plans on using RWE in more non-Covid-19 related product decisions in the future.
Of course, the circumstances of a global pandemic are unique, and payer/ provider willingness to accept RWE so openly may not last beyond it. But medical leaders can still capitalize on the opportunity to demonstrate the value of RWE for specific use cases by leveraging Covid-19 as a case study. For example, RWE is particularly useful in clinical trial recruitment, understanding appropriate use in real-world scenarios, and accelerating regulatory approvals in areas of high unmet need—all areas where Covid-19 served as a compelling test case.