Value Added Services Europe

Sep 17, 2013 - Sep 18, 2013, London

Become a health provider and add value beyond the pill

The Journey Towards Patient Centricity: Part 2

The journey towards patient centricity has undoubtedly begun. The challenge now is to transition fully from the existing product and services model towards delivering what patients want, as well as how to develop the critical capabilities to enable this transformation.



In this 3 part series, we speak to Jeff Elton, Accenture, Lode Dewulf, UCB, and Pierre Morgon, Cegedim to hear their perspectives on why patient centricity is proving difficult, the barriers to be overcome and the critical stages in the evolutionary journey from product-centric to patient-centric pharma organizations.

This week we interview Dr Lode Dewulf, Vice-President, Chief Patient Affairs Officer, UCB.

eyeforpharma: Define patient centricity as you see it?

Lode Dewulf: There are many possible definitions, one of which could be that patient centricity is the relentless focus on improving the patient experience in everything you decide, plan and do.

eyeforpharma: Adding patient centricity to your vision statement is not enough. Rethinking the way business is done will require an holistic approach that encompasses everything from analytics and insights to strategy and patient experience, from operating model design and execution to governance and transformation management. Where do you see the main obstacles to achieving patient-centricity?

Lode Dewulf: Undoubtedly the main obstacle is the classic resistance to change that exists in pharma. Secondly, pharma is still afraid to really engage with the patient. They don’t know how to do it and fear being found in non-compliance. Against this perceived risk of engaging, they also do not yet fully see the benefit: what will it bring to engage? As an industry that has seen the HCP as the key customer for decades, we are therefore still quite reluctant to engage with the patient.

eyeforpharma: What do you see are the 3 or 4 critical stages in the progression from product-centric or physician-centric to patient-centric?

Lode Dewulf: I talked about this at the Barcelona conference last year. These are the stages that we typically see along the adoption journey for all big new changes and behaviors in pharma, and what we thus also expect to see in the evolution of patient centricity:

  • Nothing is the baseline.
  • Early pioneers: At this stage, you are still very independent from patients, but you begin to see isolated initiatives, mostly employing “push” engagements with patients.
  • First Commitment: The company realizes the importance of patient centricity and informs its employees of the direction to take.
  • Experimentation: Many initiatives spring up through the company., mostly disconnected from each other.
  • Coordination and collaboration: This stage, which often involves the nomination of a leader and/or team dedicated to patient centricity, is when we see that:

               - best practice initiatives shift from push to pull engagements with patients: from independence to interdependence;

               - best practices are identified, effectively shared and adopted throughout the company;

               - the company partners with other stakeholders to create more value for patients; patient-centric initiatives are now driven by multiple stakeholders, of which the company is

                 only one (governments, charities, patient organizations, other companies can all be a part);

               - ultimately, patient-centric thinking and behavior has become the way of business: it is now part of the company’s DNA.

No one has cracked the code of patient centricity as yet. I’d liken it to the code of Medical Affairs, which we have been talking about for two decades, and where the proven formula for success is still unknown – it comes down to the execution. Some are better than others. How to execute patient centricity is valuable knowledge that any CEO would love to be privy to. The early adopters will benefit and enjoy considerable competitive advantage until everyone else catches up. Because Patient Affairs is so new, we still have so much to learn and this learning phase is necessary. This is uncharted territory and there isn’t a clear process to follow where we can tick the box and say yes, we’ve achieved that stage, let’s progress to the next.

eyeforpharma: Why is patient centricity so difficult to implement?

Lode Dewulf: It’s difficult to prove to yourself that being patient-centric adds value, to the patient, to the HCP & healthcare system and also to the business itself. How do you measure success? You can’t use the classic pharma model metrics like an increase in sales. In the absence of a clear vision of success, and especially of metrics, it becomes harder to motivate people to aspire to that.

eyeforpharma: What are some concrete initiatives you'd like to see that would advance the cause of patient centricity (e.g. holding a patient centric summit internally, developing a patient charter, appointing a Chief Patient Officer etc.)?

Lode Dewulf: Those are all good examples. Other initiatives are developing a global template to be used by all companies to get Informed Consent from patients for clinical studies. We add complexity to the whole process as everyone uses their own form, it takes more time to explain to investigators and it takes more time to explain and get approval from ethics committees and more time to explain to patients. Another example would be guidance on how to interact with patients. Everyone is trying to solve it on their own with variable standards. We should work with the stakeholders and take the initiative, because if we fail to act collaboratively the outcome could be one-sided and ultimately not in the best interests of the patient. It would be great if we could come together in a pre-competitive space and develop best practice guidelines to the benefit of all.


Next week, we talk to Pierre Morgon to get his perspective on the journey towards patient centricity.


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Value Added Services Europe

Sep 17, 2013 - Sep 18, 2013, London

Become a health provider and add value beyond the pill