There’s no denying that it’s a new era in medicine. Stakeholders across the healthcare system are shifting business models to focus on value. Entities that were once competitors are now working together to open data and share resources. And patients, previously siloed from their own health care decision making, are becoming true partners in care.
But with all of the promise also come challenges. The evolution of research, technology and policies will take time. And no single organization or company can usher in the advancements alone.
This reality was the focus of a recent workshop I participated in to identify bright spots, build community and accelerate action to engage patients as partners in research – a core principle of President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative.
Hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Stanford Medicine X, the event leveraged the Everyone Included™ framework for healthcare innovation, implementation and transformation to address major questions like “what if patients co-created everything?” and “how might we move from data ownership to data citizenship?”
What came of the workshop were bold, creative ideas and tactical examples of how to engage patients, make research more personal and participation more rewarding. Stakeholders referenced The BMJ’s inclusion of patients as part of the peer review process and how one pharmaceutical company wrote thank you notes to participants in clinical trials.
While these examples may seem simple, perhaps even obvious, they are but small steps to a larger culture shift that must happen, where entrenched fear and jaded attitudes are removed and the doctrines of design thinking, open innovation and mutual inclusivity are embraced.
I was honored to discuss ways to drive this shift in the workshop and, similarly, to be a part of that movement in my work at Science 37. A patient-centered clinical research company, Science 37 leverages mobile and digital technologies to make clinical trials more accessible and efficient. By engaging patients from the start of the discovery process, providing them with 24/7 access to their care team and data and enabling them to participate in trials from home, Science 37’s model can help fulfill the promise of precision medicine.
In January 2016, Margaret Anderson, the executive Director of FasterCures, published a blog in Huffington Post on the Top 10 Medical Research Issues and Trends to Watch in 2016. In the last paragraph she writes:
Ten years into FasterCures‘ existence, it finally feels like this is not a fanciful statement. Science and technology are driving it, patients are driving it, data are driving it and big federal priorities like the Precision Medicine Initiative will require it. Silicon Valley is driving it (finally): Google (Verily, Calico), Apple, Intel and 23andMe are significant players in R&D now, and philanthropists like Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin, et.al., are asserting their influence and bringing tech industry ideas and approaches to the party. Even Samsung is making biosimilars. Now what can we do to harness the potential and fly like an eagle towards cures?
I think the answer to that question lies in our continued partnership and openness. With a shared mission of bringing personalized treatments to more people more quickly, my hope is that what now seems innovative will become standard practice and what seems like a moonshot for medicine will quickly come within reach.