Adding Colour to the Picture: The Patients’ Perspective
At the moment, we are looking at a black and white image of the patient in terms of functional treatment journeys, treatment regimens and interactions. Pharma needs to see the patient as a whole - their needs, their fears and the obstacles in their way - the complete picture.
As a two-time cancer survivor devoted to empowering patients all over the globe so they can take more control of their care, especially for chronic conditions and “chronic cancer”, I was thrilled to see widespread interest at the 11th annual Patient Summit 2014 among pharma companies in truly making a commitment to understand and support patients.
While the words “patient-centric” were used in many presentations, there was an understanding that this cannot be lip service. To me, it is obvious, since companies invest hundreds of millions to develop a new medicine over several years, they should have a sustaining commitment to being a good corporate citizen of the patient community where their medicine is used. That doesn’t mean campaigns or building your own web properties. Rather it means listening to patients, patient opinion leaders, and advocacy organisations and supporting them as THEY drive the discussion - not pharma. As savvy speakers noted, it means being a true partner, long-term, and not a marketer pushing for short-term gain.
What’s gratifying as shown by the strong attendance at the Patients Summit and the openness of attendees is that more companies seem to be “getting it.” Now the stage is set for true collaboration between patients, pharma, healthcare providers, and healthcare organisations. But building trust will take time. What makes me feel optimistic as a patient-advocate is that the commitment seems to be there among many, it seems sincere and has the signs of not being a “flash in the pan.”
I am betting we are headed to an era where patients are better informed than ever and the range of choices about their care is clearer to them than ever before, with pharma facilitating that empowerment but not trying to skew it for its own, short-term goals. Certainly, we are not there yet and industry members will vary greatly in their execution. From my point of view, though, the companies that lead will be the winners.
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