From OT Europe

Let the crowd speak: Crowdsourcing novel research questions in orthopaedic traumatology

Joy’s Law, which is attributed to Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy, states, “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.” While this statement holds true for many areas in business and product development, there is little evidence of the extent to which non-academics can contribute during the most crucial phase of research: generating new research questions.

What if clinical experts and patients had the potential to systematically contribute to the field orthopaedic traumatology concerning innovative research scopes that have previously been missed? Would this be possible and, if so, what would the resulting contribution be from someone who may not even be familiar with the state-of-the-art scientific evidence?

Tap into unconventional knowledge

Previous projects have shown that involving unconventional stakeholders can provide valuable input for research. For instance, the “Ideation Challenge on Diabetes” initiated by Harvard Medical School could show how crowds can contribute to the challenge of type 1 diabetes. Among 12 winning contributions, there was one submitted by a patient with diabetes who could provide a unique perspective on the challenges faced by patients with diabetes. In addition, patient innovations also can come from individual patients like in the case of Tal Golesworthy, the engineer who fixed his own heart or other considerable patient innovations via the online platform Patient Innovation.

Furthermore, in 2015 the Ludwig Boltzmann Society initiated a crowdsourcing project in mental health by asking the interested crowd which questions about mental health does research need to answer. After thorough analysis and evaluation of this 2-month crowdsourcing, it turned out that research on children with mentally ill parents seem to be highly relevant, but also highly under-researched, which means the topic needs further research attention. For this, two research groups were put in place to perform 4 years of research with the aim to address this research scope.

Involving practitioners, but also patients in research might seem unconventional, especially in orthopaedics. However, as previously shown in business, this might also be true in the research area of orthopaedic traumatology.

Orthopaedic traumatology

Despite improvements in medical care for accidental injuries, traditional approaches do not always meet the clinical needs of patients. This bedside-to-bench gap in knowledge flow needs to be addressed systematically. “Tell us!” aims at involving health care practitioners who have not been part of the scientific process but hold a vast amount of expert knowledge because of their day-to-day clinical work. Involving therapists, nurses, caregivers and patients in the process of generating research questions can bring important knowledge into research.

Traditionally, bench-to-bedside approaches have been successful for the scientific workflow in orthopaedic traumatology. Research in injury diagnosis treatment is usually carried out by researchers from specialized disciplines. To improve diagnosis and treatment after accidents, it is necessary to better incorporate clinical experience into research. To tackle this issue, new methods need to be applied to fully leverage practitioners’ and patients’ knowledge. “Tell us!” taps into this gap by posing the straightforward call to action: What questions about accidental injuries does research need to address? Why not leverage patient and expert knowledge to drive innovation and let the crowd speak? Let’s listen — “Tell us!” starts 8 May.

Disclosures: Hruschka, Malfent, Missbach and Redl report no relevant financial disclosures.

Joy’s Law, which is attributed to Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy, states, “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.” While this statement holds true for many areas in business and product development, there is little evidence of the extent to which non-academics can contribute during the most crucial phase of research: generating new research questions.

What if clinical experts and patients had the potential to systematically contribute to the field orthopaedic traumatology concerning innovative research scopes that have previously been missed? Would this be possible and, if so, what would the resulting contribution be from someone who may not even be familiar with the state-of-the-art scientific evidence?

Tap into unconventional knowledge

Previous projects have shown that involving unconventional stakeholders can provide valuable input for research. For instance, the “Ideation Challenge on Diabetes” initiated by Harvard Medical School could show how crowds can contribute to the challenge of type 1 diabetes. Among 12 winning contributions, there was one submitted by a patient with diabetes who could provide a unique perspective on the challenges faced by patients with diabetes. In addition, patient innovations also can come from individual patients like in the case of Tal Golesworthy, the engineer who fixed his own heart or other considerable patient innovations via the online platform Patient Innovation.

Furthermore, in 2015 the Ludwig Boltzmann Society initiated a crowdsourcing project in mental health by asking the interested crowd which questions about mental health does research need to answer. After thorough analysis and evaluation of this 2-month crowdsourcing, it turned out that research on children with mentally ill parents seem to be highly relevant, but also highly under-researched, which means the topic needs further research attention. For this, two research groups were put in place to perform 4 years of research with the aim to address this research scope.

Involving practitioners, but also patients in research might seem unconventional, especially in orthopaedics. However, as previously shown in business, this might also be true in the research area of orthopaedic traumatology.

Orthopaedic traumatology

Despite improvements in medical care for accidental injuries, traditional approaches do not always meet the clinical needs of patients. This bedside-to-bench gap in knowledge flow needs to be addressed systematically. “Tell us!” aims at involving health care practitioners who have not been part of the scientific process but hold a vast amount of expert knowledge because of their day-to-day clinical work. Involving therapists, nurses, caregivers and patients in the process of generating research questions can bring important knowledge into research.

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Traditionally, bench-to-bedside approaches have been successful for the scientific workflow in orthopaedic traumatology. Research in injury diagnosis treatment is usually carried out by researchers from specialized disciplines. To improve diagnosis and treatment after accidents, it is necessary to better incorporate clinical experience into research. To tackle this issue, new methods need to be applied to fully leverage practitioners’ and patients’ knowledge. “Tell us!” taps into this gap by posing the straightforward call to action: What questions about accidental injuries does research need to address? Why not leverage patient and expert knowledge to drive innovation and let the crowd speak? Let’s listen — “Tell us!” starts 8 May.

Disclosures: Hruschka, Malfent, Missbach and Redl report no relevant financial disclosures.