Forward Together on the Hero’s Journey

mProve Health recently had the privilege of adding “artistic services” to its accomplishments! We were pleased that Eli Lilly and Company invited us to take part in The Hero’s Journey art project, and we submitted our contribution last week.

Hero's Journey mProve Brick

Embracing the trend of patient centricity, Lilly launched The Hero’s Journey as a collaborative, installation-style artwork that celebrates the contributions of clinical trial patients. In the literary tradition, the Hero’s Journey is a classic narrative of the protagonist battling various obstacles, always for the greater good. The hero doesn’t always make it, but their work makes life easier for those who come after them.

Trial subjects are asked to donate their time and bodies, sometimes as healthy volunteers and sometimes as a last chance for treatment. As we understand it, the art project is an attempt to bring the patient contribution out of the shadow of leading drug developers and researchers. It reminds us that patient participants in a trial are perhaps the most important contributors to modern pharmacology.

Artist John Magnan was brought on to design the piece for Lilly. Using wood, he created three teardrop structures, which will collectively hold 1,000 brick-sized wooden blocks. Lilly shipped these bricks to all sorts of people involved in clinical research, from their own employees to CROs to vendors like us. (When we were first asked to contribute, we worried that Lilly was using real bricks and felt for the postal worker who had to carry them all around.) We were all encouraged to design the brick in our interpretation of the Hero’s Journey theme, using whatever media we had available.

We see our products as a signposting tool for patients already on a treatment journey. The decisions about how to seek treatment and whether to engage in clinical trials are theirs alone–as they should be. What we always aim to do is to provide additional support so that the patients’ decisions are, perhaps, a little easier to make.

We are also excited that the patient centricity trend is pushing pharma towards giving patients a stronger, louder voice in trial design and in their individual treatment. One of the most wonderful things is seeing how a group of patients, by consenting to become data points in the study results, collect themselves into an impactful whole. One datum by itself is usually insignificant, but data compounded push lifesaving treatments further towards the market.

Our Trial Guide app uses path and guidepost symbolism already, so starting with that imagery was an easy decision for the informal mProve brick committee. It was important to us that each patient be represented, and that not all patients be shown as following the same journey; some are on the road from the beginning, while others wander in a bit later. We chose oil paints to show each patient as a unique data point, flowing down a path toward blue skies until they become indistinguishable parts of a larger whole.

Learn more about The Hero’s Journey here: We encourage anyone who has the opportunity to go see it, and to look for the mProve brick!