Can you imagine what a CPO might be?

Your sitemaster thought some readers might be interested in a post he was invited to contribute (wearing his professional business hat) to a very different health care blog. It’s not about prostate cancer. Did you manage to guess correctly?

4 Responses

  1. Hmmm. A quick look in the middle of my busy day says medical engineering, which I hear is a relatively new field. But right or wrong, forget companies for a second. Sell this CPO idea to several charities I know of in several countries. Here is why I thought of this. Last week I looked through a medical magazine which had an article about osteoporosis, which some know I have, probably as a result of ADT (PS: I won that case). The article contained a seriously misleading mistake. It said that med W belongs to chemical group X (true). Then it said that med Y is also an X. It is not, it’s in a quite different group, call it Z.

    Being a helpful person (at times) I decided to correct this. I contacted the charity. This highly specialised group did not employ one CPO, as it were. They could not understand my complaint. Bad enough. I was told to call the magazine company. I did. Whoever answered simply refused to speak with me. The article was written by a free-lance something, but I did not contact him. My life might be too short for that. The point of this semi-rant, is that any medical charity should have a CPO. A far better way to spend folks’ cash than by organising fun evenings for patients who often need expert information quickly.

  2. First … and foremost … You look so professional … nice.

    Looks like a blog about pharmaceutical companies and the need for a CPO … Chief Patient Officer … I like the acronym … although I thought it might be the Chief Prostate Officer at first blush … would consider such a position, but realize that performing that duty is impossible for me at the moment. …

  3. Good idea. But my experience in sitting on some committees is that one or two people who voice their conscience are likely to be overwhelmed by the other committee members whose priority is self-interest. The boards of not-for-profit hospitals might be an example. Nevertheless I think there is historical precedent for the power of a voice crying in the wilderness.


    Thanks for the link to an article a bit outside the box — yet quite relevant!

    When I was a new cancer patient about 14 years ago, I would have had no clue that such patient input would be at all worthwhile. My concept of the medical community was tempered with mild skepticism but basically featured a central image of an all-knowing Marcus Welby, MD, with a computer-like brain — not the kind that crashes, but rather with a super memory and superb search capability. The corresponding research community featured a population of highly talented and objective experts with a thorough grasp of statistics. Now, while still having a high respect for those communities, I’m aware how flawed they can be at times, including the powerful influence of conventional wisdom that may not be wise at all, with the added problem of arrogance that at times shields that faulty conventional thinking.

    Two research groups I know of that are involved with prostate cancer are aware of the important role in their work that patients can play, and these organizations actively seek us out: one is the American Association for Cancer Research, which is in fact international and the largest organization of cancer researchers in the world, and the other is the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), which sponsors a Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP) and a number of other programs featuring cancer, as well as some other diseases.

    THE AACR. Each year the AACR invites about 40 cancer patients and key advocates representing many types of cancer from all over the world to participate in its Scientist Survivor Program. I’ve been three times, and our main responsibilities are to participate in the AACR’s 5-day annual conference and then to report back to our cancer communities. They treat us like royalty, including a special lounge well stocked with food, all expenses paid, and numerous lectures by leading researchers just for our group of patients and mentors. We are always featured at the key dinner, and we have ample opportunity to ask questions at events. I’ve been impressed how warmly we and our views and experiences are welcomed. I’ve been surprised that we often have valuable substantive points to contribute as we attend talks, tour poster presentations, and interact in the lounge, dining areas and halls. (Application is in the fall at under the Survivors and Advocates tab on the home page.) Once, when attending an AACR conference on cancer prevention, I actually linked up two research teams that were studying the same topic but were unaware of each other’s existence.

    THE CDMRP. I have also served as a “consumer reviewer” for three annual sessions in the CDMRP’s PCRP, helping in the selection of prostate cancer research proposals for funding (lately about $80,000,000 annually), and participating in each of the two review conferences that have reported research results (Innovative Minds in Prostate Cancer Today [IMPaCT], 2007 and 2011). This role involves reviewing approximately 16 to 24 research proposals, with primary responsibility for relevance to patients but with the right to comment on any aspect of the proposal, and then sit, with one or two other consumer reviewers, on a panel of about a dozen researchers. We each report on the proposals we have reviewed (two professionals and one consumer for each proposal), and then we exercise our equal vote. I’ve been impressed with how well we are accepted and how valuable our contributions are at times, while keeping the focus on patient benefit at all times, as opposed to research for the sake mainly of science or to satisfy the publish or perish imperative, which are very real tendencies that we help counter. We also help bring a more general overlook to the process, which is important as most of the researchers are narrowly focused, often unaware of important developments outside the work of their labs. We also represent the human impact of the products of research, the benefits as well as the complications and side effects. In these ways we help the CDMRP accomplish its central purpose of funding high risk/high reward research, and we have helped the PCRP achieve some grand slam home runs.

    My recollection is that the PCRP is recruiting about this time of year with reviewing done in the summer in a 3-day session. There are numerous panels on prostate cancer each year, and you serve on just one panel. A few of us also serve on the higher level “Integration Panels” that filter recommended research for overlap and accomplishment of the year’s central objectives.

    I understand that the National Institutes of Health also has a consumer review process, but I am not familiar with it.

    Thanks for making a subtle but very important point. Companies would be well advised to feature consumer input!

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