Interview with Søren Eik Skovlund, chief consultant and senior scientist at Region North Jutland of Denmark, PFMD Collaborator and Core Team Member.  

The launch of Patient Focused Medicines Development’s (PFMD) new Patient Engagement Quality Guidance adds new momentum to the patient engagement landscape, according to a leading proponent of the guide, but it is vital that the community deploys the tool in real-world pilots to ensure maximum impact.

Søren Eik Skovlund, a chief consultant and senior scientist at Region North Jutland of Denmark, presented the Guidance at the 3rd Annual Conference on Patient Engagement & Experience in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Along with Lode Dewulf of Servier, Skovlund has established the conference as an important meeting point for the patient engagement community. Senior patient advocates joined clinicians, researchers, pharmacists, academics, government officials and representatives of the healthcare industry for two days of intense discussion on patient engagement. Codes of conduct, principles for best practice, and case studies on successful collaborations with patients were highlights of the event.

It was in this context that the PFMD Patient Engagement Quality Guidance was launched. ‘The reception was very positive,’ Skovlund says. ‘We heard how badly needed this kind of document is for the patient engagement community. Importantly, patient advocates at the meeting confirmed the value of the guidance.’

He said the guidance could help support collaboration between stakeholders about how to partner with patients in a more consistent manner. Crucially, it may also help make patient engagement more standardised in Europe and globally.

‘Many different organisations and sectors approach patient partnerships in different ways,’ says Skovlund. ‘What was lacking until now was a clear shared language, shared direction, and a shared focus for quality patient engagement. The PFMD patient engagement quality criteria fit the bill. It’s super exciting.’

The event featured small workshops on each of the seven quality criteria addressed by the PFMD guide. These multidisciplinary discussions were highly productive and showed the seven topics to be highly relevant to users.

‘It was a proof of concept in a sense as it showed the usefulness of the seven criteria as a framework for facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogue and collaboration about patient engagement,’ said Skovlund. For the guide to make a lasting impact, the patient engagement community must embrace it and test it in pilot projects, he added. ‘It’s important that we start using it in a way so that we can build experience of how it actually works in practice.’

Skovlund is working on a pilot patient engagement project in the Danish health system. The initiative, which kicked off earlier last year and runs throughout this year, is an ideal setting for using the new PFMD guide. It involves a diverse multi-stakeholder group, including patient associations, and representatives from different healthcare sectors who will be working together to explore how the application of the seven criteria may support the quality and outcomes of the patient partnering process

Others may follow this example. ‘There is significant interest in using the guide and we have already heard several expressions of interest,’ he said. ‘As more people begin to try it, we will create momentum and advance this ongoing collective learning and improvement process.’

You can click here if you feel inspired and you want to explore the Patient Engagement Quality Guidance. You can always contact us if you wish to pilot it.