Many believe personalised medicine is the future for health care. Caris, a pioneer in this field, specialised in personalised cancer diagnostics, discovered that although many agree that this is the future, it is hard to present the service and discuss how this future would fit today’s practices. To overcome this challenge and discuss the whole issue as a common challenge that needs involvement from different stakeholders in health care, Caris engaged Opticom to conduct Future Labs in a number of cities across Sweden.

Caris Molecular Intelligence provides oncologists with the most relevant, clinically actionable and individualised treatment information to personalise cancer care for all solid tumours. While traditionally in the Nordic countries tumours are checked for about 3 or 4 biomarkers, Caris’ solution routinely checks for 70 biomarkers, including those normally only associated with other solid tumours. By doing so, Caris’ Evidence Engine can suggest the drugs that are most likely to be effective for this particular patient, based on the biology of the tumour as well as its global database of the most recent relevant scientific evidence.

Jonas Nylander, Nordic Sales and Business Development Director, Caris Life Sciences

Valuable that participants let go of their usual role
“We decided to organise these Future Labs with Opticom to be able to discuss in a structured way how a hypothetical introduction of our service, that seems to be so far away in the future, would be done and to get a good dialogue in a good forum where it is allowed to be creative and be future-minded,” Jonas Nylander, Nordic Sales and Business Development Director at Caris Life Sciences, explains.

“I think the most valuable part of the method is that, since it is called Future Lab, you create a think tank. Just the title of the meeting allows participants to let go of their usual roles and all the usual barriers can be set aside for a moment. When we discuss the question with one person at a time, the entire debate gets stuck from all sides because everyone refers to someone else. But when we can agree that this is interesting to look at and considered to be the future, which oncologists and pathologists do agree on, while politicians think it is interesting and the patients ask why can we not have this today already, then we can start to discuss how we can reach this future sooner or how we should adjust so that we can also make this a reality in the future in Sweden. Then we can get a good discussion about questions that are relevant already in today’s situation. When a think tank like this starts to discuss the future, they are actually discussing how we can implement the future already today.”

Companies invest too few resources in researching their markets
“I believe companies invest too few resources in researching their markets, not only quantitatively, but especially qualitatively. Many underestimate the value of having this kind dialogue and discussing with the market in a structured way. They just think that doing research provides us with information we already had before we started. To communicate with different stakeholders in this kind of format where the context is quite different from the usual ways we interact with them also contributes to moving forward on the important questions in a very good way. In the normal context, people may get defensive, but in this situation they are asked to consider the product or the service and become part of developing how this can be implemented. There are many companies who just see this as a given and just say why do I need more market research? But this type of projects do not just have the purpose of getting more information, they also aim at changing the way these issues are discussed.”

Positive feedback from participants
“We also got comments from several participants that they thought it was very interesting to get this time and to set aside time in their busy schedules to sit down and take the opportunity to have a meeting where they can discuss the future for cancer treatment and diagnostics with oncologists, pathologists, politicians and patient representatives. We have gotten a lot of positive feedback from participants. The most stressed professors we know, who travel a lot and always have lot going on, they have indicated that they considered it valuable to take this time and sit together with others and discuss these questions even though they took time from their evenings, their personal free time, to do this. They may not have expected it to be this valuable beforehand, but have told us that it really was valuable afterwards.”

“All in all, I would say it was well invested money! Conducting Future Labs like this can contribute to changing the dialogue and discuss solutions from a new angle, as a common problem that we need to solve together. The future in health care is a joint problem or a joint challenge, so it is good to discuss it as a common challenge instead of as a company that is trying to establish a service on a market,” Jonas Nylander concludes.

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