A new online, interactive training programme has been launched to help patient advocates better influence decisions related to access to new medicines.

The eMEET (Medicine Evaluation Educational Training) resource has been developed by Eli Lilly & Co, in collaboration with patient involvement and health technology assessment (HTA) experts, to help patient advocates navigate the world of medicines development evaluation and assessment. It is endorsed by Health Technology Assessment International (HTAi), the global scientific and professional body for those who produce, use or encounter HTA.

Patients have unique knowledge about what it is like to live with an illness, the possible limitations of existing treatments and the potential of new therapies. However, ensuring that their experiences can be challenging in an environment where decisions are scientifically-based, say the developers.

“It’s absolutely crucial that patient advocates understand the medicines development and HTA processes. Advocates can then make a more robust contribution to the medicines evaluation discussion and be accepted as an equal and knowledgeable stakeholder in healthcare decisions,” said Kathy Oliver, co-director for the International Brain Tumour Alliance (IBTA). She describes the eMEET training programme as “an enjoyable and valuable educational tool” which is easily accessible online and allows users to learn at their own pace.

The programme is presented in modules focused on: introduction and scene-setting - the true value of the patient voice; the journey of a medicine through the complex process of discovery, development and evaluation; an introduction to HTA; HTA in practice, with an illustration of the complexities of assessment; and patient advocacy group participation in HTA - how to engage effectively to ensure that HTA panels understand patients’ needs and preferences.  eMEET uses a variety of tools, including video presentations, animations and exercises, to show how patients’ experiences can be integrated into these complex processes.  

“The programme helps patient advocates ensure, in the most productive and meaningful way, that their input to the medicines evaluation process successfully highlights patient issues, informs decision-making and aligns with the scientific evidence,” say the developers.

“The growing role of patient engagement in the medicines evaluation process is one of the key drivers in improving access, and patient advocates have much to contribute,” commented Professor Ken Paterson, former chair of the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC). “By helping ensure patients have a voice, it’s a win for the healthcare system, a win for the HTA process and, most importantly, a win for patients,” he said.