There’s an old saying; “if you want something done properly, do it yourself”.
My background is as a conference researcher and organiser – for pharma, with pharma. I focused on digital opportunities, case-studies and providing a venue in which pharma innovators could share and galvanise creativity. I’m used to mixing with and mixing-up the social media pioneers, the Twitterati, the brave few who bring possibilities through the pipeline – both products and ways to engage with stakeholders.
I was pretty surprised, therefore when, after 6 months of researching how pharma were using crowdsouring technologies with patients I unearthed – precisely nothing.
It dawned on me that Pharma hasn’t even scratched the surface of the value of crowdsourcing for and with patients.
Here’s where the old saying links with the Brave New World. Motivated by the can-do attitude of the innovators and pioneers in my network I decided to do it myself!
This led me to build Patients Create, the world’s first patient-centric crowdsourcing platform. Recently I asked 25 senior pharma executives, “How do you think PatientsCreate can be used to help your brand?” Of the 25, only 2 knew what crowdsourcing was, and they had no strong views on its potential. Far from deter me, this was actually pretty exciting, as it allowed me to explain the benefits of open dialogue with the safety and security of private research.
So what is crowdsourcing, and why (unlike other industries) has pharma yet to adopt it fully?
Crowdsourcing involves outsourcing a task or problem to a large population of relevant people, in an attempt to create a solution. By embracing the wisdom of the crowd, you’ll create a collective solution rather than have a single opinion. Crowdsourcing has the power to deliver insights in hours and days, weeks and months.
At PatientsCreate we’re going to start with projects around adherence and lifestyle support. We’ll then move to creating educational materials, awareness campaigns and device insights.
But there is a much bigger opportunity than this; crowdsourcing could help tackle pharma’s shrinking pipelines. With drug development costs up an estimated 70% since 2008, companies can collaborate and patients easily discover and enrol in clinical trials, in theory we can speed up early discovery and development.
Salvatore Laconesi, a cancer patient in Italy recently created an open source site to gain feedback on his cancer treatment. Open Source Cureto-date has over 200,000 responses from doctors, patients, nutritionists and anyone willing to help. More famously is the online game Foldit, where non-experts try to crack scientific riddles for drug discovery. These are strong indicators that the wisdom of the crowd should not be ignored.
PatientsCreate differs from other crowdsourcing platforms, most significantly in our route to market. We’ve developed the platform with our end-users. The functionality, gaming and reward dynamics are in testing-phase anticipating an early 2013 launch. With 20 advisorsfrom pharma and agency, as well as patient support from the Teenage Cancer Trust, Ovacome, Francis Bone Cancer Research, AMMF, Brain Trust, International Thyroid Federation, and the Canadian Patient Association (to start), it will meet the needs of both patients and industry when fully launched in 2013.
So crowdsourcing is the perfect solution?
We think so. Simon Davies, CEO of Teenage Cancer Trust sums it up well with; “this is shaping up to be a great solution that gives patients the opportunity to help design the tools they need”.
We have some visionary execs at BI, GSK, Pfizer, Amgen, Bayer and Merck on board. What’s stopping you?
This is personally and professionally thrilling. I feel like Hannibal in that, ‘we will either find a way, or make one’ ... in essence that’s the spirit of PatientsCreate ... we are making a way for patients to make theirs ...
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