The list of stakeholders in the development of a new healthcare technology is long and diverse. All of those stakeholders have different priorities and drivers and they will all need to be satisfied, to different extents, at different times, in order for your technology to successfully reach the patient. Effective stakeholder engagement is not just about telling people about your research or your technology, but about creating the channels for a reciprocal dialogue with the people that will interact with your technology and putting in place mechanisms to ensure that that dialogue can effect meaningful change in your research programme. An approach to stakeholder engagement that engages the right people at the right time is the best way to ensure that your project remains grounded in real world need and that the technology developed has the greatest potential for impact on health and wellbeing.
Topics under this heading are:
Engaging clinicians and allied health professionals (e.g. physiotherapists, radiographers, prosthetists etc.) in your research can help shape your project, provide a route to translation and recruit advocates in the wider medical and policy communities to increase the chances of widespread acceptance and adoption of your technology.
Patients and the informed public are the single best source of information about the effects of a disease or condition on the people most intensely affected. The rise of the patient expert, also presents significant opportunities to gain valuable input to the development of your research. Effective public and patient involvement is frequently being recognised as essential across the health sector so developing effective mechanisms for engaging them with your technology will be a significant advantage.
The drivers and priorities in a commercial setting are very different from those in Academia. Early and continued engagement of key business/industrial partners can provide further information on the challenges faced in commercialising your technology, understanding of the hurdles for successful translation and potentially provide a partner to undertake subsequent translational development.
There are a vast array of charitable bodies working in the area of health and wellbeing, they are often a hugely valuable resource able to provide a multitude of resources to a project, including: the provision of information on a disease, access to patient groups, an engaged public audience, a route to broader dissemination, advocacy for implementation or policy changes and a potential source for future funding.