Workshop: How can we better communicate risk by applying systems science to create a more integrated system for medicines?

One of the workshops at our CIP Conference 2017 on 16 June 2017 at University of Lisbon – Faculdade de Psicologia.

Communication is one of the main ways we manage the risk of medicines. This is why the International Society of Pharmacovigilance established a dedicated special interest group to risk communication. This group aims to actively connect with relevant experts outside traditional pharmacovigilance circles and invite them to contribute to progressing medicinal product risk communication, in order to address the scientific-medical, cultural, linguistic, social, political and media-technological complexity. We have been reaching out to experts from social and communications sciences (such as the CIP institute) or those who have been active in patient safety and human factors research and practice, as well as with representatives from patient, healthcare provider and media organisations.

For reasons such these, in November 2015, in the UK the speaker established a Pharmaceutical Human Factors & Ergonomics Special Interest Group (PHF&E SIG) within the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF). The aim is to promote debate and develop programmes of work applying the evidence from systems science such as human factors and identify what support is needed to enable pharmaceutical organisations of all forms and sizes to embed HFE principles and practices into their culture, systems and processes. These unique groups have volunteers from across the pharmaceutical sector at any level (such as healthcare, industry) and in any discipline with improved communication a central tenet. Since the inception of the PHF&E SIG, a series of sub-groups have been set up examining various aspects of improving human performance. The five active groups concern: (1) modelling the system for medicines in the UK based on systems theory, (2) introducing human factors into existing training courses for drug safety, clinical research and pharmacists, (3) evaluating how best to perform human factors studies, (4) how to apply technology in the system and (5) implementation of principles of human-centred organisations (ISO 27500). We believe such a team-based approach will form the basis of a more effective system from factory to patient and is an excellent example of exchanging and developing knowledge and practical solutions when faced with Complex Interactive Processes and seemingly intractable challenges.


Dr. Brian Edwards is Principal Consultant at Pharmacovigilance & Drug Safety NDA Regulatory Science Ltd, Board Member of the International Society of Pharmacovigilance and Chair of the UK Pharmaceutical Human Factors & Ergonomics Group

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