The SIMCor consortium held the first of its focus groups on in silico medicine, an event hosted by the University College London (UCL) at the Zayed Centre for Research of its affiliated Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).
The SIMCor focus groups have been organised as a joint effort of an interdisciplinary team including in silico medicine researchers, sociologists, researchers in economics, and science communication experts from project partners leveraging their experience on patient focus groups, also in the context of sister in silico medicine projects (In Silico World).
This type of activity has been designed not only as a means of addressing cardiologic patients’ and citizens’ questions, issues, and concerns but also to gain fundamental insights for the healthcare and socioeconomic impact assessment of in-silico testing technologies and, on a broader scale, towards the development of more ethical and user-driven virtual twin technologies.
What emerged from the discussion with patients is quite promising on the prospect of making in-silico medicine a reality for medical device testing in the future. Patients expressed highly favourable opinions on the potential use of in-silico testing methodologies for enhanced safety of new devices, as well as maximise treatment success and minimise risks. Furthermore, they would be reassured to know that such devices, or their surgery planning, had been additionally validated through the use of computer-based methods, providing that such methods remain an addition, and not a replacement, of traditional testing methods, i.e., animal testing and clinical trials. More in general, they have shown a high curiosity towards such methods and declared to be willing to know more and keep informed on the developments to come in the field.
Patients also showed a very favourable attitude towards the sharing of sensitive healthcare data for research purposes, both with public and private subjects, as they believe such use is beneficial for them and the wellbeing of others, and they have trust in the public healthcare system and its capacity to safeguard their privacy and ensure that their data is used for good.