Blog: Making Pharma Research Patient-Centric: Addressing Unmet Needs through Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Making Pharma Research Patient-Centric: Addressing Unmet Needs through Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

In this quickly-evolving field, acceptance is growing for the idea that a patient-centric approach is crucial for advancing healthcare and addressing the unmet needs of diverse populations.

Traditional research methodologies have historically neglected the invaluable perspectives, preferences, and lived experiences of patients, prioritising scientific and clinical aspects. However, a transformative shift is underway as researchers increasingly embrace the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). By actively incorporating these principles, researchers are able to unlock a more comprehensive understanding of patients' perspectives, preferences, and lived experiences. This holistic approach empowers them to delve deeper into the complexities of patient experiences and ultimately develop treatments that are not only more effective but also truly patient-centred. Through the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), the landscape of pharmaceutical research is evolving to ensure that every patient's voice is heard and their unique needs are met.

Understanding the Need for Patient-Centric Pharma Research

In the pursuit of advancing healthcare and developing effective treatments, the importance of patient-centric research cannot be overstated.

To gain a comprehensive understanding of the need for patient-centric research, it is crucial to explore the limitations of the traditional approach. An article published in the National Library of Medicine titled "Engaging the Patient’s Perspective in Clinical Trials Research" (2019) provides valuable insights. The article emphasises that patient-centred research goes beyond just collecting data on symptoms and treatment outcomes. It highlights the significance of involving patients as active partners throughout the research process, from study design to implementation and dissemination of findings. Unfortunately, many clinical studies generate vast amounts of data, but the translation of these findings into practice often falls short, leaving unmet needs for patients. Recognising this gap, patient participation in all phases of the clinical research activities has gained increasing recognition as a vital component for generating data that promote positive changes in clinical practice

Furthermore, patient-centric research encourages a shift towards outcomes that matter most to patients, such as quality of life, symptom relief, and treatment satisfaction. By considering patient perspectives, researchers can gain a more holistic understanding of the impact of a disease or treatment on patients' day-to-day lives, leading to more meaningful and patient-centred outcomes.

Patient-centric research allows for a deeper understanding of patient experiences, preferences, and unmet needs, ultimately driving the development of more effective and patient-centred treatments.

Embracing Diversity and Promoting Equity in Pharma Research

Equality and diversity are fundamental aspects of patient-centric research, ensuring that research findings are inclusive, accessible, and relevant to diverse populations. By embracing both diversity and equality, pharmaceutical research can create a more equitable and representative landscape that addresses the unmet needs of various communities and ensures effective and safe treatments for all patients.

However, the current state of clinical research reveals low participation rates, particularly among racial and ethnic minorities as highlighted in the NPJ Digital Medicines article “Opportunities and counterintuitive challenges for decentralized clinical trials to broaden participant inclusion” (2022) This disparity in participation is reflected in the challenges faced by up to 20% of clinical trials, either in meeting recruitment targets or failing to include diverse populations.

Recognising the need for inclusivity is crucial to designing clinical trials with diversity in mind from the very beginning. This approach allows for a more comprehensive understanding of diseases, treatments, and their effects across patient populations. Embracing diversity not only enriches the scientific rigour of studies but also ensures that research outcomes are applicable to a broad range of individuals.

Traditionally, inclusivity in clinical trials has been measured through simple percentages of identifiable demographics, such as age, sex, gender identity, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and more. However, addressing one category in isolation may inadvertently create imbalances in others. To truly reflect the real-world populations they aim to serve, researchers must embrace intersectionality and include diverse participant representation in clinical trials.

Intersectionality acknowledges that individuals' experiences are shaped by a combination of factors that determine their opportunities and oppression. By considering the intersecting identities and experiences of participants, researchers can generate data that better reflects the diverse patient populations. The NPJ Digital Medicines article emphasises that intersectionality recognises the combination of these factors that shape individuals. For example, the experiences of an individual who is over 65 years old, Black, and female differ significantly from someone who possesses only one of these characteristics. This approach ensures that research outcomes are applicable and meaningful to individuals from various backgrounds, reducing health disparities and promoting equality in healthcare.

To overcome these challenges, it is essential to consider intersectionality and develop strategies that account for the unique experiences and needs of diverse populations. This requires collaboration between researchers, healthcare professionals, and community organisations to address structural barriers, increase research awareness, and build trust within marginalised communities. At M3 our goal is to make diverse samples and inclusive methods a priority because all voices deserve to be heard and represented, and this is especially important in a healthcare context.

By incorporating inclusive practices and addressing intersectionality, pharmaceutical research can strive to ensure that clinical trials are more representative, effective, and equitable. This approach allows for the development of treatments that cater to the specific needs of diverse   populations, thereby reducing health disparities and improving healthcare outcomes for all.

How M3 can Help you Incorporate DEI in Pharma Research

Inclusion is a fundamental aspect of patient-centric pharma research, and it is essential to ensure that research studies are inclusive, representative, and accessible to diverse populations.

At M3 we have implemented various features and initiatives to promote inclusion across all our research projects. With the largest healthcare panel in the world, M3 has the ability to cover extensive geographical areas and demographics. This vast panel not only allows for broad representation but also enables access to hard-to-target participants. Through our custom recruitment capabilities  we can expand beyond our own panel. By collaborating with our affiliates and support groups, we facilitate a comprehensive approach to research that incorporates diverse perspectives and experiences. We identify and address barriers to participation and develop customised recruitment strategies that target specific demographic groups or hard-to-reach populations. This approach fosters inclusivity and enhances the quality and relevance of our research outcomes.

Our partnerships with support groups and affiliates promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in our research practices. We contribute to the development of patient-centric treatments that cater to the unique needs of diverse patient populations. At M3, panel diversity remains a priority, and we have diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) targets in place to ensure the continuous growth of the panel. Our ongoing aim is to build a diverse pool of participants that accurately reflects the population being studied. This approach enables researchers to engage with diverse communities and ensures that projects represent a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.

Our language services also means that pharmaceutical companies conducting research globally can do so with ease. This service ensures that research materials and interactions with participants are conducted in their native languages, taking into consideration the nuances and cultural sensitivities of each  . It's important to note that "English only" surveys or interviews can exclude many qualified participants who may not be fluent in English. This can limit the diversity of participants and lead to skewed data. By providing language services, M3 enables effective communication and participation from individuals whose primary language may not be English, thereby expanding the reach and inclusivity of pharma research efforts.

Incorporating inclusion in pharma research is crucial for addressing the unmet needs of diverse populations and promoting equitable healthcare outcomes. Therefore, M3 is committed to advancing inclusion in research practices, and M3’s comprehensive approach can help pharmaceutical companies create patient-centric studies that embrace diversity, promote equity, and improve the overall quality and relevance of research outcomes.

In the fast-evolving field of pharmaceutical research, the future lies in embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles to address the unmet needs of diverse patient populations. By involving patients as active partners and considering their perspectives, we can develop more meaningful outcomes. Designing clinical trials with diversity in mind and addressing intersectionality generate data that better reflect real-world populations. At M3, we are committed to incorporating inclusion in our research. Our custom recruitment capabilities and the largest healthcare panel in the world allow us to engage diverse communities and reach participants from specific demographic groups or hard-to-reach populations. Additionally, our language services enable research to be conducted in participants' native languages, enhancing communication and inclusivity.

By partnering with M3, pharmaceutical companies can leverage our expertise and resources to enhance their research initiatives. We can help them overcome recruitment challenges, improve diversity in clinical trials, and ensure that research studies are more representative, effective, and equitable. Together, we can address the unmet needs of diverse populations, reduce health disparities, and improve healthcare outcomes for all.

Interested in learning more about how M3 can help you incorporate inclusion in your pharma research efforts?