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Clinical Trials Q1 2024

Enabling meaningful patient involvement for healthcare innovation and access

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Dr Derick Mitchell


Empowering patients can lead to better healthcare access and research innovation. Their voices must be heard through inclusive policies and patient involvement.

Irish patients have a right to access the medicines, treatment, devices and procedures they need, including innovations that could be life-changing or life-saving. However, this is not always the case.   

Improving access to vital treatments  

Irish patients often encounter unequal access to therapies compared to other European countries. Certain treatments may not be approved for reimbursement in the public system or approved treatments experience delays and funding gaps. Additionally, differences exist in available treatments for those with or without private health insurance, particularly oncology treatments. 

For patient-centred care, the Department of Health and the HSE must reform the assessment and reimbursement process and ensure sustained access for patients from 2025–2035. This involves partnering with EU Member states to increase treatment access and investing in Irish clinical research infrastructure, facilitating early access to innovative treatments. 

Empowering patients through treatment innovation  

Patients bring unique insights and perspectives to the healthcare landscape. By actively involving patients in decision-making processes (clinical trial design, drug development, treatment planning), healthcare stakeholders gain a deeper understanding of patient needs, leading to treatment innovation and access.  

IPPOSI empowers patients and the public by providing them with inclusive supports, education and tools to become influential partners in healthcare decision-making. Empowered patients are more inclined to engage in decision-making processes at the individual care level plus multiple levels of service delivery.

IPPOSI empowers patients and the public
by providing them with inclusive
supports, education and tools.

Fostering inclusive healthcare partnerships  

We encourage the Department of Health to integrate patient involvement and person-centredness into legislative, regulatory and policy initiatives, extending this mandate to the HSE and affiliated health agencies.

By incorporating patient feedback and lived experiences, healthcare can pinpoint delivery gaps, enhance resource allocation and broaden access to innovative treatments for a broader range of patients.

Aligned with Sláintecare objectives, patient involvement helps identify access barriers including geography and socioeconomic disparities. This prompts strategies for equitable healthcare access, regardless of background or circumstances.

Establishing a Patient and Carers Advisory Board with direct access to the Minister for Health and the Secretary-General of the Department of Health could enhance national communication.

The research community and health industry must intensify efforts to involve patients and the public, fostering trusted partnerships to advance mutual objectives.  

Prioritising patient-centred research and implementation  

There should be no debate about whether to involve patients or not. All discussions and decisions around access and research innovation must be person-centred and informed by patients’ lived experiences. 

The Irish Platform for Patient Organisations, Science and Industry (IPPOSI) is a patient-led organisation that works with patients, government, industry, science and academia to put patients at the heart of health policy and innovation. Learn more:

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