Applicability in clinical practice
The ultimate goal of a development path is to take the application in use in clinical practice, and not just in a single hospital, but as part of standard care available for all cancer patients. It is important to sketch this end-point early on during development and to get a clear view on the "fit" in clinical practice.
For example: I am developing a biomarker detectable in fresh blood samples. Is this sample-type available in the clinic? What is the turn-around time of the results? Is this acceptable in daily practice?
Especially developments that originate from a research environment without a clinical background benefit from actively acquiring insight into clinical paths. Start early and approach it step-by-step.
Assessing the fit with clinical practice
Insight in what, who, when and where
The first step towards developing a clinical application is to obtain a sharp view on what, who when and where.
- What is the exact application you are developing?
- Who would use the application? Is the direct user the patient, medical specialist, or general practitioner? Which specialist in particular? Radiologist, pathologist?
- When is the application used? For which types of cancer? At which stage of the disease?
- Where is it used? In a clinical laboratory? At the GP? At the patients home?
A meeting with the end-user
Talk to the experts! And what better expert is there than the end user. Get into contact with clinicians and/or patients, to understand their needs and to get a view on daily practice. If you need help to get into contact with the end-user, please contact KWF.
For a more detailed analysis of the clinical path consider having a early HTA performed by specialists. An early HTA will for example give insight into how big the changes are required from the clinicians, an to have an estimate of whether the application will be cost-effective. These assessments are critical for successful implementation. More information on early HTA analyses, as well as a list of HTA experts, can be found here.
Note that an early HTA analysis can be budgeted as part of research projects supported by KWF.
If you are developing a product or method, put effort in finding enthusiastic early adopters, end-users who share your vision on the potential of your product, and who are willing to test it, while still in development. An enthusiastic early adopter can help you tweak your product to become the best as can be, the best for ease of use and highest quality of the result in a practical setting.
Aiming for wide availability
Implementation of a novel application should always be targeted as widely as possible, such that every patient can benefit and the use is for example not restricted to a single hospital. The following factors are important to consider.
In order for an application to become widely available it needs to be scalable. Can new users eality pick up the application? Which expertise is required to use the innovation, and how much training does a user need to get? What is required in terms of technical environment, machinery etc? And how about the production, is this scalable?
It is important that the innovation can be adapted to different situation, needs or target groups, so that it can be implemented in varying settings. Adaptability also means that the innovation can be improved as a result of new insights or other circumstances.
It is important that an innovation is easy to explain, understand, use and accessible for the healthcare professional and patient. Of course, more complex problems may require more complex innovations, where usability is proportional to the solution of the problem. When healthcare professionals understand the innovation, they can a good assessment between the for them relevant innovations and the advantages and disadvantages. An attractive and comprehensible user environment (user interface) that is in line with daily practice also contributes to user-friendliness.