Site visits to Massachusetts General Hospital and the FDA

Over the past two weeks, the team has had the privilege of talking with two new stakeholders for the first time. On Friday, July 24 we visited Massachusetts General Hospital to talk with Dr. Ramon Gilberto Gonzalez, Director of the Neuroradiology Division, about his work in systematically improving stroke care. Additionally, on Wednesday, July 29, we took part in a webinar with the Food and Drug Administration, sharing the scope and goals of our project in preparation for an in-person visit to the FDA campus in August.

Whenever we talk to a new stakeholder such as Dr. Gonzalez or the FDA, we introduce ourselves as outsiders to the clinical trials system. A large portion of our team has never directly worked anywhere within the healthcare domain, much less with clinical trials. What this means is that we can apply new knowledge and expertise to clinical trials in ways that have never been done before, a task that would be very difficult for a team already entrenched in the system. While our status as “outsiders” grants us a lot of opportunities for innovation, it also makes it difficult to fully comprehend the system from the perspectives of numerous stakeholders. Understanding these different perspectives and figuring out how they interact with one another is a crucial element of using the systems and strategic design. The most important tools that our team has in filling this gap in knowledge are site visits and conversations with stakeholders. Every interaction we have with stakeholders, including those with Dr. Gonzalez and the FDA, teaches us about an individual perspective on the clinical trials system and gives us a deeper understanding on the system as a whole.

In just my short time working at the Systems Institute on this project, site visits and stakeholder conversations have been the most educational experiences for me.

Every person who interacts with healthcare on a daily basis has insightful observations that are instrumental in shaping the direction and scope of our project. I have found this to be true on a very personal level, as both of my parents are physicians and it was not until I was part of this project that I have been able to engage them on their opinions about the current state of clinical trials and healthcare.

As an industrial engineering student entering my junior year at Northwestern University this coming fall, being able to talk with my parents about a topic that intersects their professional lives, my education, and our personal interests has been extremely rewarding and absolutely formative in my own life.

I am excited for the team as it continues to harvest invaluable knowledge through an exciting array of upcoming site visits and meetings.

Elliott Burklow