Life-changing research can only benefit patients if they receive an appropriate intervention (as part of normal clinical care) implemented in the way it was designed.
We need to reduce the time lag, currently estimated at 17 years, between research discovery and health intervention and we need to ensure that research is implemented as planned to achieve maximal benefits.
To achieve this, we need to be able to recognise and enhance the trajectory from research discovery to patient impact across multiple research and clinical teams.
It seems important, then, that these research and clinical teams have opportunities to collaborate at different time frames to ensure that the research intervention can be clinically implemented and sustained within normal practice. Research that is designed in isolation from clinical practice may never be able to be feasibly used. While it is difficult to be able to predict outcomes from early discovery research, could researchers be facilitated, perhaps in discussion with clinicians, to identify potential trajectories towards clinical impact?
Further, can clinical teams be primed to be able to receive and implement positive research results? What if clinical teams knew enough to be able to use research results to improve patient care? A recent systematic review found evidence that a positive research culture in clinical environments generates benefits for the patients, staff and the organisation. Lower patient mortality and higher levels of patient satisfaction were reported. Clinical staff were more satisfied and less likely to leave their organisation. There were also examples given of increased numbers of patients being treated with reduced lengths of inpatient stay! At this stage, a positive research culture is only associated with, not predictive of these benefits. But there is a need for more research to investigate further!
So what if we encouraged collaboration between academic and clinicians in the design of clinically meaningful and relevant research and supported the clinical workforce to be able to understand and use research? Could a renewed collaboration between the relevant researchers and clinicians ensure the faithful implementation and sustainability of the research benefits for patients? A dream for nirvana, perhaps…