EPF stresses the importance of patient involvement in healthcare innovationAnders Olauson, EPF President, and Nicola Bedlington, EPF Executive Director, participated in the conference “Innovation in Healthcare without borders”, on 16-17 April, in Brussels, Belgium. The main objective of the conference was to act as an innovation in healthcare policy forum involving the key actors and policy-makers. Mr Olauson highlighted his conviction that “Patients can play a key role in providing some answers to the question how to foster innovation and its adoption in healthcare in an equitable and sustainable way.”
This event brought together the key stakeholders involved in the innovation process of the healthcare sector in view of Europe 2020 and the Innovation Union Plan. It was organised by the services of the European Commission (DG Research and Innovation, DG Enterprise and Industry, DG Health and Consumers, DG for Regional Policy), in consultation with other relevant DGs, major health associations and stakeholders.
The conference sessions developed two tracks. Track A was entitled “Removing borders on the innovation in healthcare landscape” assessing achievements and remaining barriers. Mr Olauson raised the fact that patients have traditionally not been involved in the area of innovation in healthcare. He added that “innovation that does not reach the patient is not only wasteful, but is not innovation at all”.
As for Track B: "Overcoming barriers to equality and solidarity", the EPF President recommended meaningful involvement of patients as equal partners from inception to delivery, in order to foster innovation uptake and to ensure that final solutions are in line with patients’ needs and expectations. He also said that there needs to be a shift from technology-driven to more demand-driven and user-centred innovation at all levels. “User-driven innovation is key in closing the gap between innovation and market and between market and patients”, he concluded.
A key issue emerged: how to ensure the effective involvement of patients in healthcare innovation? There is a lot of work to be done in terms of creating the necessary conditions for patient involvement to take place, with particular regard to health literacy and patient empowerment. A remarkable step forward in this area is represented by the recently-launched EUPATI Patient Academy funded through the Innovative Medicines Initiative. Led by EPF and delivered though a sustainable partnership between patients, research institutions, and pharmaceutical industries, EUPATI aims to improve the availability of both patient-centric information as well as educated patient experts who will be able to contribute to pharmaceutical innovation at different levels.
This will ultimately help to ensure more patient-centred, transparent pharmaceutical research and innovation processes for the benefit of our healthcare systems.