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[BLOG] The youth factor

by EPF Youth Group president Andreas Christodoulou

Last month I had the honour to be invited as a speaker to a multi stakeholder conference in Amsterdam, the Third Annual Patient Engagement and Experience Conference organised by Fleming.

The unique focus of this event was patients’ engagement and experience. The event provided a fantastic platform for collaborative discussion amongst internationally leading patient advocates, patient organisations, payers, pharma, regulators, health technology companies and researchers.

Kicking off the day with a on-stage interview on patient involvement in HTA

My day started with an on-stage interview where I was asked how we can optimise patient involvement in decision-making bodies. I therefore had the opportunity to talk more about EPF’s position on patient involvement in HTA and shared our key recommendations. My co-panelist was Sarah Richards, a Technical analyst from NICE, UK. The conversation turned out really interesting and was led by the conference’s chairman, Mr. Lode Dewulf from Belgium, Former Chief Medical Affairs Officer and Chief Patient Affairs Officer.

Following the kick-off, several presentations took place, from technical analysts, researchers, pharma companies, patient advocates and health care professionals. All of them focused on patient engagement and presented their views on multi-stakeholder collaboration for people-centred healthcare.

How to engage young patients

As the president of EPF’s Youth Group I was also invited to do a presentation. My presentation highlighted the value of engaging with the next generation of empowered patients and why the youth factor must always be taken into account. I argued that to truly achieve patient-centred healthcare for young patients we need to create a culture of engagement in young adults and children from the start, recognizing that our needs and perspective can be different than the one of adult patients. I also talked about the use of digital technologies in health and how these technologies can help young patients to be more active in the decision-making for our own health care.

We no longer want to be passengers in our health care “car” but co-pilots with our health professionals.

Finally, I couldn’t have finished my presentation without mentioning what EPF does for the next generation of empowered young patients. I presented our Summer Training for Young Patients Advocates, that will see its second edition this July in Vienna. The Summer training was recognised as a great initiative and was positively accepted and congratulated by all stakeholders in the room.

If you’re interested in all the details, you can see my whole presentation.

Taking action

As the conference came to an end, a last panel discussion between all stakeholders took place. We all joined forces and we agreed that the way forward is to strengthen and unify the field of multi-disciplinary scientific research and improve the real-world use of medicines that can be gained through partnering with patients as equal partners.

Overall, I was impressed with the commitment and passion of all the participants, especially patients.  As Dr. Seuss’ says “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.”

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If you are a young patient between 18-30 years old and would like to know more about the EPF Youth Group, have a look here.