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Prioritise educating GPs over patients, says patient advocate

Jack Whelan says that patients are ‘no different to the man on the street’ with health knowledge 

eyeforpharmaPharma should prioritise educating primary care doctors over patients, according to cancer patient advocate Jack Whelan.

Speaking at eyeforpharma's annual conference in Barcelona last week, Whelan, who has an incurable form of a rare blood cancer called Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia, argued that a pragmatic approach to patient centricity should be taken to optimise effectiveness.

Whelan said: “Pharma really should educate primary care physicians rather than running around trying to educate patients. Most patients don't participate in research in clinical trials because we are never asked - 95% of us receive standard of care. 

“I would put your money into educating the practitioners about what is on the horizon. General practitioners don't know about what is happening in clinical trials. I think patients can be your best research advocates; they can be your partner in business policy and legislative advocacy.”

He went on to discuss the value of the patient perspective, making comparisons with a manipulation of a famous quote from the Oscar-winning film Forrest Gump, saying: “Advocates are like a box of chocolates, you ever know what you're going to get. Some are very vocal; some are very active in healthcare social media, some are mad, misinformed hypochondriacs.”

In a frank admission on the limitations of patient knowledge, he said: “Some say it is the patient should you listen to, and I would say be careful because we're really not much different to the man on the street. We're no different than we were yesterday except for our experiences and that's what you want to learn about.”

Whelan currently receives infusions of a three-combination chemotherapy twice a week for three out of four weeks a month, and has recently completed his twelfth cycle.

He said that it is important to move on past the point of treating diseases after the fact, and focus more on pre-emptive medicine. 

He explained: “I think it is important that in the pharma industry, we move from the empirical approach to preventive and prognostic care based on what we've learnt about genetics and genomics. We are now at that point where the road to personalised medicine is under construction but we are getting there.”

Article by
Kirstie Pickering

31st March 2015

From: Healthcare

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