Can you do good medical research without multi-stakeholder input?

Wrong way neonbrand--Cmz06-0btw-unsplash

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Medical science has advanced to the point that the involvement of multiple disciplines is obligatory. Having multi-stakeholders is also obligatory.

However, the term multi-stakeholder can be confusing.

What does multi-stakeholder mean anyway?

The simple definition of a stakeholder is anyone who has a stake in a project. Indeed, within an organisation, and specifically, companies project stakeholders are not necessarily different types of stakeholders.

Multi-stakeholder is a term used in many different industries. For example, ICANN is the organisation responsible for internet names and numbers. It is governed with a multi-stakeholder model. The ICANN Wiki defines the multi-stakeholder model as:

".. an organisational framework or structure which adopts the multi-stakeholder process of governance or policymaking, which aims to bring together the primary stakeholders such as businesses, civil society, governments, research institutions and non-government organisations to cooperate and participate in the dialogue, decision making and implementation of solutions to common problems or goals."

What is interesting about the ICANN multi-stakeholder governance model is that it is about bringing together a diversity of stakeholder types and having them solve problems together.

Bridging the translational gap

Good medical research alone may not get you over the translational gap.

You have to gain acceptance of patient stakeholders, clinicians, industry, regulators, and payers before your innovation is to be adopted into clinical practice.

If you are working on a routine new therapeutic, this might not be so important. However, routine therapeutics are becoming increasingly uncommon.  

The point is that the sooner you get multi-stakeholder input, the more you can begin to shape and direct your research efforts so that the innovations that result have a chance to become part of clinical practice.

Pierre Meulien, the executive director of the IMI, summed it up nicely on the Assembled Chaos podcast when he said:

"I think interesting things happen at interfaces. Whether that be the interface between public and private, the interface between research and clinic, the research between clinical research and health delivery, I think all of these interfaces are going through very interesting times and are facilitating progress. They're also breaking down interfaces, and I'm interested in breaking down silos and creating new ecosystems that can be really productive in bringing innovation to patients as quickly as possible."

If all you care about is the science, a multi-stakeholder approach is not essential. Medical research is not about the science alone. It is about informing the practice of medicine. 

So, if you want to do good medical research, meaningful early multi-stakeholder input that shapes what you are doing is essential.

Scott Wagers

"The Consortium Whisperer" Physician and researcher who has spent the last 12 years engaged in developing biomedical R&D consortia, as well as designing and supporting the delivery of consortium based projects.

No matter who you are, you can, and you should innovate through consortia. They are the only way to make a big difference to the future of medicine. Want to find out how? Get in touch.