A couple of weeks ago our COO, Dr Elizabeth Fairley took part in a panel discussion about the feasibility of MedTech in the developing world and whether it can be a sustainable model.2
We represent a different proposition to the other panellists, their experience is in medical devices whereas our expertise in listening to the users of their devices, patients.
The conversation brought out many important factors in the successful implementation of medicines and medical technology around the world. For example:
- Understanding and appreciating the cultural barriers of patients. Are there certain treatments/medicines that a person’s religion or ethnicity forbids or deters them from accessing?3 We want to understand what is needed and what will work from a cultural point of view so that new medicines and technologies are accepted by their target recipients.
- Taking the environmental facilitators and barriers for patients into account. Similarly, environmental factors affect whether a patient can receive treatment.4 Some of us are lucky enough to be able to attend medical facilities, others do not have this luxury. There is a need to set pharmaceutical and medical companies the challenge of designing products and medical devices that can work in the minimalistic settings of developing countries. If they do this, knock on rewards will be reaped in our society, naturally instilling simpler treatments, that will cater for patients no matter their setting. Interestingly, one of the panellists spoke about taking onboard the transfer of simple, affective solutions from the developing world to the developed world.
- Addressing patient need and want. Getting to the bottom of what the problem is, why it is occurring and where it occurs is fundamental to getting patients the right treatments at the right time. The answers to these questions are vital for pinpointing and correcting for unmet need, so much so that personalised medicine will be driven by these responses.
- Collaboration and co-design is essential. It makes sense to be asking patients what they want from their medicines and health products? By involving patients in the process from the beginning, perhaps there would be fewer adaptations to products post release, increased understanding of benefits and a positive impact on adherence. Another of the panellists, presented a brilliant example of this during the discussion. Through listening to patients and their desire for flexibility, a portable haemodialysis device was put in to practice. The specifications for the device were that it needed to be flexible, easy to use and small so it could support dialysis in the home without converting the home into a ward. The outcome: a desktop device which leads users through all the steps in the session. In fact, the training element ended up being of importance during the pandemic, when patients were unable to attend their usual appointments.
As the conversation unfolded, it became increasingly clear that listening to patient need is critical.5 Our focus at Talking Medicines is to do just that. We want to find out what patients are asking for and what they are talking about with regards to their medication, as we know this is the key to providing innovative solutions.
We gather data through social media routes, smart surveys and patient centric applications, structuring the data using machine learning and AI models to provide a rich source of patient intelligence data to our customers – helping them uncover the true needs of their patients.
As we continue to globalise, we are aware of challenge of accessing the many important patient voices from hard to reach locations. We are committed to finding new ways to solve this problem, as we embark on our mission to capture the voices of all patients across the globe.
- Image – Picture of doctor treating female patient in the field. (https://unsplash.com/photos/WxRd7byFxs4)