Partnerships unlock the power of clinical trials (Guest blog)
I have said this so many times: ‘No clinical trials, no new medical treatments.’
Clinical trials are essential for the continuous development of public health around the globe, in the EU and in Denmark, where I work. Not only do they play a vital role in closing the gap between research and healthcare delivery, trials also attract investment and talent.
To keep pace with science and to become more relevant to patients, clinical trials must constantly evolve. Modernising research in Europe can help to reclaim a leadership role on the global stage, with all of the scientific, health and economic benefits that brings. This is a task well suited to large partnerships such as the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).
As someone who eats, sleeps and drinks clinical research in Denmark, I can attest to the value that collaboration and infrastructure play in building a strong clinical trials ecosystem. At Trial Nation, a public-private partnership dedicated to increasing the number of trials in Denmark, our success depends on our ability to understand and secure the needs of all components of the clinical trial eco system: clinicians, patients, companies, hospital owners and regulatory authorities.
Our association span a broad range of private and public players, reaching into all five Danish regions responsible for the nation’s hospitals – which are the locations of almost all trials conducted in Denmark. I am also acutely aware of the motivations and barriers experienced by clinicians, regulators and patients.
Together, we are working to accelerate the transition towards patient-centric protocol design. This approach will be driven by multidimensional health data; it will rely heavily on structured Patient Reported Outcomes (PRO) data; and it will increasingly connect with patients in a decentralised manner. The result will be a more patient-focused, data-driven clinical trials ecosystem.
The lesson from our experience in Denmark is that none of us can do it alone. Partners from the public and private sector must pull together to meet the shared challenges we face. That is why Trial Nation jumped at the opportunity to become an associate partner of the IMI H2O project which is developing ‘health outcome observatories’ that will amplify the patient voice in the health system. The five-year initiative provides patients with revolutionary digital tools to collect health outcomes in a standardised way. The insightful and always vigilant EU Office of the Region of Central Denmark (CDEU) paved the way for the participation of Trial Nation in the project.
The spirit of IMI, and the specific mission of H2O, fit with our experience, ethos and vision for the future of a health system that increasingly focus on outcomes relevant to patients. Our engagement with H2O partners reassured us that we are embarking on a shared journey to enrich health systems with high-quality patient data. In the process we hope to make a meaningful contribution to a multistakeholder project and learn from the expertise of our diverse and incredibly skilled partners.
To me, this is the most breath-taking characteristic of IMI – its unique capacity to identify megatrends and find ways to turn them to the advantage of citizens. It goes beyond short-term gain for participating organisations and fits the wider strategic goal of making Europe a magnet for R&D.
Reaching the bold ambitions that we set ourselves will take time and I am conscious that there is still a distance to travel. But, to borrow from the old proverb, ‘If you want to go far, go together.’