Data alone won't solve big complex problems in medicine

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Photo by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash

Medical research and innovation are complex and challenging.

Just ask any of the tech giants that have stormed into the medical arena thinking it was going to be easy, just a matter of analysing readily accessible data.

It would be great, that is all we needed to do. Then all the bright medical researchers across the world would smack their foreheads with the palms of the hands. "Why didn't we think of that?"

But, data alone won't solve big complex problems.

You need a diversity of expertise, perspective, and experience. However, just bringing experts and stakeholders together is not enough.

There needs to be a high degree of interaction.

Every week, I see problems that arise in the course of a project solved by unexpected input from those not directly involved in the problem. Many of those problems have to do with data.

When the dialogue is limited to only those involved directly or whom you think has the expertise, you narrow your solution space.

I have seen small teams of focused experts working on a problem for months only for it to be solved in 5 minutes of dialogue with a larger, more diverse group.

There are also many examples where the cross-disciplinary insight saves a group months of effort in testing a new variation in a preclinical model.

Consortium projects put a diversity of expertise at your fingertips. When you have a difficult problem, your best bet is to bring it to a diverse group.

The solution often comes from the interaction between those who have not grappled with similar problems before.

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.