Patient Advisory Board’s work has developed over the years

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Fimea’s Patient Advisory Board was launched in 2020. Two years of experience in the activities of the Advisory Board is now available; 2020–2021 and 2022–2023. The interaction between stakeholders has become better-functioning and more balanced. Meetings would also be useful for a wider audience than just Fimea officials. 

17 active patient and disability organisations involved

During the period 2022–2023, the Advisory Board’s activities included 17 organisations representing patients and at least one member from each of Fimea’s areas of responsibility. The advisory board convened twice a year. The members of the advisory board participated actively in the meetings and planning them in turn. The themes of the meetings were selected in cooperation with the members of the Advisory Board. They highlighted topicality, such as the expansion of the pharmacy exchange of inhalation products at the beginning of 2023. 

“Our organisation has utilised materials produced from the meetings, such as circular articles, and distributed recordings of the presentations to its members,” says Arja Saarento, representative of Gynecological Cancer Patients in Finland.

The aim of the period was to invite presentations from representatives of both the authorities and the patient organisation. A praised dialogue was formed from the presentations of Tiina Huusko, representative of The Finnish Osteoporosis Association and Piia Rannanheimo, representative of Fimea, the theme of which was: What information should be collected and utilised for the needs of optimal and equal implementation of medicinal treatment? Overall, the presentations in the meetings have been found good and comprehensive, although unfortunately many experts chose to use concepts difficult to understand for lay members.

Current news from organisations the best benefit

The themes of the meetings come from topical themes in the pharmaceutical sector, and they are often discussed from the desk perspective of officials. Conversely, the contributions of patient and disability organisations share information about their daily work and challenges. These circa-three-minute updates from each organisation were included in the programme at the second meeting of 2022–2023. In Fimea representatives’ feedback, these news are the best part of the meetings. It has also often been noted that many other stakeholders in the social welfare and health care sector should also hear these highlights, as not all of them only concern Fimea’s tasks and authority.

Wish to increase cooperation between Fimea and other authorities in the meetings

Of the themes of the 2022–2023 meetings, Fimea, Hila and Kela's roles in pharmaceutical matters clearly won the vote on the most interesting theme. These kinds of themes highlighting the roles and powers of other authorities and Fimea were also welcomed in the future. Helena Kastarinen, a representative of the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela), also stated after the meeting that she considered the function a pleasant and significant form of stakeholder cooperation and that she was willing to participate in a similar meeting in the future.

The presentation of Fimea's, Hila's and Kela's roles was considered such an interesting theme from the perspective of the authorities as well that for the first time, not only the officials appointed to the advisory board but also other employees of these organisations could participate remotely. The arrangement received a lot of praise, and after the meeting in spring 2023, this opportunity was offered again at the autumn meeting. Representatives of patient and disability organisations have also considered the increased audience to be only a good thing. 

Fimea’s promise for the new period 2024–2025

The wish to increase the visibility of dialogue and cooperation between other authorities and Fimea in the meetings of the Advisory Board has been heard and Fimea promises to promote it in the period 2024–2025.  Prime Minister Petteri Orpo’s Government Programme contains several entries and measures targeted at the pharmaceutical sector. These concern social welfare and health care operators extensively, which means that closer cooperation and dialogue are in everyone's interest.

More information:

Fimea’s Patient Advisory Board

The article was written jointly by Arja Saarento, representative of Gynecological Cancer Patients in Finland, Tiina Huusko, representative of The Finnish Osteoporosis Association, and Päivi Kiviranta, coordinator of the Patient Advisory Board at Fimea.