The European Patients’ Academy (EUPATI) has trained dozens of patients to engage with companies and decision-makers on medicines development. Now it’s time to think about medtech.
I am convinced that the days when experts and clinicians decided what patients want are long gone. Modern healthcare aspires to be patient-centred, while academics, policymakers and industry are increasingly focused on delivering what matters to patients.
I have always believed that the best way to find out what patients want is to ask them. Inviting patients into conversations about research priorities, testing medical innovations, and even regulatory and reimbursement, is a win-win. It ensures that innovations answer the needs of patients and make product development more efficient – for example, by enhancing the recruitment and retention of patients in clinical studies.
From my point of view, it’s vital that all stakeholders have the skills and knowledge required to engage in the innovation process. Patients need to understand R&D – and other stakeholders should learn how to get the most from their interactions with patients.
The Patients’ Academy has played an important part in delivering training courses. Over 150 patients and 2 million users have downloaded the EUPATI Toolbox on Medicines R&D, which features more than 3,500 content items – including articles and PowerPoints, infographics and fact sheets.
EUPATI was set up through the Innovative Medicines Initiative, a public-private partnership supported by the European Commission and EFPIA, representing the research-based pharmaceutical sector. We have brought together 30 organisations to fill a gap: by boosting the pool of skilled patients, the Patient Academy helps to meet the growing demand for informed patients through a combination of e-learning courses as well as face to face meetings over a period of 14 months.
As you may know, there are major differences in how medical technologies and medicines are developed, regulated and paid for. At the recent Patient-Medtech Dialogue, co-hosted by the European Patients Forum and MedTech Europe, patient and industry representatives discussed these differences and how they should be addressed.
Looking ahead, we are expanding our focus to include medical technologies and will work with other actors in the healthcare ecosystem to help them engage with patients. Medtech is an important new area for us. Patients need the skills and know-how to participate in medical technology innovation and this means developing bespoke training modules tailored to medtech innovation. For example, patients will need information about iterative innovation, the role of Notified Bodies and CE marking, and procurement of devices and diagnostics.
As we begin this new journey, we look forward to deepening the connection between patients and the medical technology sector – ultimately helping to enhance the efficiency and the impact of medtech innovation.