Healthcare is not just about medicine, but also about the way we live our lives.

“Nobody wants to be defined by their disease”, says Marilyn Metcalf, Senior Director, Benefit Risk Evaluation at GlaxoSmithKline.

“Each of us is a patient at some point, each of us is a caregiver once. We all have family members who are patients too. Healthcare is a much broader issue. As scientists we are taught to be more objective. As social scientists, we know that any kind of observation can affect the whole environment. Much more so with patients. As human beings, we are all social. So we need to have a much more human interaction with patients and see them as whole people.”

In this video below, Marilyn discusses the need to bring patients to the table as equal partners, not as customers, as well as some of the ways to make that happen, for example by:

  • Readjusting the way clinical trials are set up and reducing the demands made on patients
  • Capturing data in ways that are more convenient for patients
  • Finding ways of measuring outcomes that are less painful, less invasive
  • Having more discussions with regulators towards reaching a mutual understanding of a disease, allowing for a clinical trial that isn’t so difficult for patients
  • Enabling academics and patients to gather data from other patients, within and outside patient organisations
  • Enabling academics and patients to prioritise the end points that are being measured

Marilyn insists that as we come to a better understanding that health isn’t just about medicine but also about natural ways that we live our lives, we will have a better understanding of which medicines need to be developed and which ones we should focus on.