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A New Chair to Understand Trust in the Healthcare Sector

Rüling Charles-Clemens, Professor at Grenoble Ecole de Management
Published on
01 December 2017

How does public trust evolve when faced with innovations in the health sector? Grenoble Ecole de Management launches a new chair to understand trust and mistrust in healthcare.

INTERVIEW

Last September, Grenoble Ecole de Management launched a new chair to explore "Public Trust in Health". The chair was founded under the auspices of the GEM Foundation, School for Business and for Society, with institutional support from Bristol-Myers Squibb France, a bio-pharmaceutical laboratory. The chair aims to further our understanding of how public trust evolves in terms of healthcare. We speak with Charles-Clemens Rüling, the GEM professor and researcher in charge of coordinating the chair.

Why create the Public Trust in Health Chair at GEM?

GEM has a long tradition of research in fields related to how society perceives innovation and judges the various players involved in the process. In the case of healthcare (see complementary box below the interview), GEM recently innovated by creating the Chair for Anosmia. I also carried out a project funded by the French National Research Agency (ANR) that explored the economic models of digital healthcare.

The project was carried out in collaboration with six partners from 2013 to 2017. GEM has developed conceptual tools and evaluation methods that enable us to measure the various mechanisms that impact public trust. The Public Trust in Health Chair will explore the dynamics of trust and mistrust in order to understand how this impacts the sector.

Your partner, Bristol-Myers Squibb France, is a biopharmaceutical laboratory that is a pioneer in the field of immuno-oncology therapy. What will be the chair's areas of research?

The company, which is originally from North America, recently decided to strategically focus on immunotherapy. This field focuses on specific therapies to develop the next generation of anti-cancer treatments based on targeting the immune system. GEM will analyze how various players create public trust or mistrust when developing innovative therapies.

This means real-time analysis of how these new approaches are discussed in the media and how five or six laboratories deal with this issue. We will also look at medical professionals and regulatory bodies. We will look at commentary dating back to 2010.

Will you also look at the more touchy subject of when drugs are withdrawn from market?

Yes, definitely. The goal will be to understand how the issue arises, how the process of withdrawal impacts the company, and why withdrawals receive important public interest. Our studies will include comparative analysis of France and the U.K. We are currently working on a comparative study of 12 drugs that were withdrawn from market between 1990 and 2010. The reasoning behind these withdrawals differs greatly from country to country as does the discussions carried out by media, governing bodies, and medical authorities and professionals.

What is the first concrete research work carried out by the chair?

In collaboration with the CEA Grenoble, Hélène Michel, developed a new version of her serious game. The GEM professor and researcher created an alternative game using the subject of healthcare and well-being. The idea was to adapt the initial game in order to explore new ideas and uses in the field of healthcare. On September 18th and 19th, 700 first-year GEM students were able to imagine new solutions to overcome the challenges of the health sector.

A second round of gameplay is planned for January 2018 during which 800 second-year students will think about how to create sustainable economic sales models. The partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb France was essential for this discussion and it will enable us to explore everything from the creation of ideas to the implementation of a business plan.

In December, we are also planning to meet with other key players in the sector such as the Grenoble Public Hospital, the Université Grenoble Alpes, B&D and Aryballe Technologies, among others. The support of Foundation of France has provided us with the freedom required to carry out independent research.

The unique characteristics of healthcare

"Trust and mistrust in the healthcare sector depend on a particular set of mechanisms, in particular due to the interplay of pharmaceutical companies. This is a particularly sensitive topic for this sector because of the fact patients are directly exposed to risks that can impact their health. The recent debates concerning the drug Levothyroxine have demonstrated the high level of uncertainty faced by patients when dealing with changes and evolutions in this field. In addition, the healthcare sector is characterized by a strong lack of linkage between a particular drug and the laboratory that creates and produces it. Names such as Roche, Pfizer and Sanofi are rather vague for the general public. As a result, a healthcare crisis has a tendency to impact the entire sector. Trust is usually based on the assumption that there is a direct link with a player. This is the case in other innovative sectors. For example, Samsung's issues with batteries didn't create a crisis for Apple technology," explains Charles-Clemens Rüling.

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