DiPEx charity cofounder Dr Andrew Herxheimer celebrated his 90th birthday on November 4th 2015.
Andrew, a clinical pharmacologist and emeritus fellow of the Cochrane Collaboration, established DiPEx in 2001 with GP Dr Ann McPherson CBE, taking inspiration from their own experiences of illness.
Both found they knew all the medical information for their conditions, but also understood the value of talking to other patients about the personal and emotional side of having the condition. Andrew’s experience of knee replacement surgery, with Ann’s experience of breast cancer, prompted them to come up with the idea of a patient experience website.
Through the charity they created the healthtalk.org website, which features clips of people talking about their own experiences of living with a range of health conditions. The website is aimed at patients, their carers, family and friends, doctors, nurses and other health professionals.
Interviews featured on healthtalk.org are carried out by the University of Oxford’s Health Experiences Research Group, in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.
Since its inception, healthtalk.org has won several awards and commendations, including most recently a Patient Information Award from the British Medical Association. The projects have also inspired the DIPEx International collaboration of 14 countries conducting similar projects at which Andrew was a guest of honour at the international meeting in Freiburg Germany in June 2015 (pictured below).
Andrew has been involved with many initiatives apart from DIPEx . He has been involved in the Cochrane Collaboration since it began and was the founding editor of the independent Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletin from 1963 to 1992 He is a convenor of the Cochrane Collaboration Adverse Effects Methods Group.
Professor Sue Ziebland, Director of the Health Experiences Research Group, who leads the research that is published on HealthTalk, said: "At Andrew's 80th birthday celebration I was surprised and impressed to discover that while I saw the healthtalk projects as Andrew's real commitment, there were people from all over the world who saw Andrew as the founder and mentor of their projects (on, for example, informed prescribing and adverse effects) too.”
Throughout his career, Andrew has worked tirelessly to provide independent, unbiased, clear and concise information about therapeutic interventions to professionals and the public and says that “coherent stories matter, good methods improve clarity, and numbers need words.”