Healthcare industry leader introduces 3-D network plots – a new software tool to aid the exploration of covariate imbalances and effects in network meta-analysis
BURLINGTON, Massachusetts, May 4, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- A novel web-based interactive 3-dimensional (3-D) tool has been developed by Decision Resources Group Abacus in collaboration with leading academics at Leicester University to facilitate the visualisation and exploration of covariate distributions and imbalances across evidence networks for network meta-analysis (NMA).
Network meta-analysis is becoming increasingly important for decision makers to assess the comparative efficacy and safety of interventions and is integral to health technology assessment (HTA). The exploration of covariate effects is important in NMA because the presence of unaccounted treatment covariate interactions can invalidate the assumptions that underlie NMA and bias results. Visually assimilating, exploring and interpreting the distribution of covariate values across trials in an NMA is challenging due to the complexities of representing the network structure alongside study-level covariate values.
In a recently published paper in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, DRG Abacus and Leicester University outline the rationale for and the features of the software tool and present a series of illustrative examples.
Key points from the research include:
The primary innovation that allows for extensions and improvements to evidence networks is the use of a 3-D graphical environment, incorporating the graphical representation of covariates on a third 'z' axis.
This work is believed to be the first application of a 3-D graphical environment to evidence networks in NMA.
The 3-D evidence network plot system will facilitate the exploration of covariate distributions and imbalances across evidence networks and will be of most value in the context of supporting NMA feasibility/validity assessments and aiding in the interpretation of NMA results by a wide audience.
Comments from DRG Abacus NMA specialist Sarah Batson:
"The 3-D evidence network plot system is the first tool designed specifically to visualise covariate distributions and imbalances across evidence networks in 3-D. We believe that the tool will be of primary interest to systematic review and meta-analysis researchers and, more generally, to those assessing the validity and robustness of an NMA to inform reimbursement decisions."
"Despite the sophistication of the interactive display, it is freely available on the web and has a simple spreadsheet interface. Thus, this powerful tool is already very widely available; anyone with a compatible web browser pointed at http://3dnma.com can use it."
Comments from Leicester University Professor of Medical Statistics Alex Sutton:
"The tool produced by this research collaboration surpassed my highest expectations. I consider this to be an exemplary collaboration between academia and industry to achieve something mutually valuable that would not be possible by either party on their own."
"The enthusiastic reception this innovative work has received, both when presented to peers and through peer review in an international journal, adds weight to my view that initiatives like this will be increasingly utilized for the evaluation of healthcare interventions in the future."
About Decision Resources Group DRG, a subsidiary of Piramal Enterprises Ltd., offers best-in-class, high-value data, analytics and insights products and services to the healthcare industry, delivered by more than 1000 employees across 17 offices in North America, Europe and Asia. DRG provides the Life Sciences, Provider, Payer and Financial Services industries the data, tools, insights and advice they need to compete and thrive in an increasingly complex and value-based marketplace. decisionresourcesgroup.com.