You may have heard that last week, with dozen other organizations, we launched Precision Medicine for Me, a unique educational initiative aimed at ensuring that all lung cancer patients know about and have access to next generation tumor testing. Antidote, along with Patient Power, noticed a problem: patients not served by major cancer centers often don’t have access to critical tumor testing. To address this problem – and many other big problems in healthcare – we believe that new collaborations are necessary and nimbleness is key. With this in mind, we set to work on a “skunkworks” project to address the tumor testing issue in a way that was scalable, measurable, and replicable. We asked ourselves: how much can we get done in just 12 weeks?
It turns out that with the right crew in place, you can get a lot done in three months. We built a one-of-a-kind collaboration with a dozen partners. We curated what our collective organizations deemed as the best-in-class educational materials, and developed new video content where we felt it was necessary. We identified testing programs and determined how to incorporate them into the initiative. And finally, we brought everything together in one place: www.precision-medicine.me.
And we were thrilled to work on this project. Not only thrilled to help patients very much in need of this information and the supportive services we and our partners provide, but also thrilled to be a part of something truly unique in its collaboration and openness. As we, a digital health startup, worked side by side with the likes of patient organizations such as Patient Power and PatientsLikeMe, advocacy organizations like the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and the Lung Cancer Foundation of America, and members of industry like Quintiles, we noticed something very special taking place. Open dialogue, generosity of time and expertise, and a serious focus on what would be best for patients were the hallmarks of this collaboration, with everyone jumping in to help in whatever way they could whenever they were able. We built a landing page we’re proud of, and we’re even prouder to say that all the information on that landing page is open to all to use in their own educational endeavors. Our next push will be a Facebook campaign to reach even more patients.
Now the question is: how can we use what we learned to drive further collaboration in the often siloed healthcare world? How can we infuse collaboration, generosity of spirit, and openness into our work to better serve patients? Here are a few suggestions, based on lessons from launching the Precision Medicine for Me initiative:
- Open your organization up to the idea of collaboration. It’s basic, but it’s critical. If you want to be involved in large-scale, cross-organization initiatives, you need to know what other organizations are up to. What are their biggest challenges? What are their most important goals? Even the briefest of conversations can help identify overlap.
- Establish and agree upon a set goal. This sounds simple, but if you’re all marching towards slightly different end-games, a truly unified project will be difficult to achieve.
- Establish clear roles, based on areas of expertise and interest. Everyone brings something to the table, and that should be respected.
- Develop and agree upon some very clear messaging about what you’re hoping to achieve. Everyone is talking to different people every day, and you never know who might be your next partner, sponsor, champion, patient advocate…you get the picture.
- Establish a north star. For us, it was patients. With lung cancer patients as part of our collaboration, we were able to not only incorporate patient viewpoints, but also keep them top-of-mind throughout the entire process.
- Make it measurable. With so many organizations involved, you need to show impact. Everyone has different ways of measuring success, so agree on methods and make sure that those methods can fulfill everyone’s reporting needs.
- And lastly, set yourself up to iterate. You don’t need to launch big and stop there. In fact, where things get the most interesting is when you add layers and additional collaborators and even more viewpoints. So launch when you can. Then keep building on that.
To tell us how you are collaborating for the benefit of patients, or if you want more information on how to get involved with our initiative, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.