Barcelona 2015

Mar 24, 2015 - Mar 26, 2015, CCIB, Barcelona

Your Customer is in Charge.

Engrain patient centricity throughout your company

The entire organization needs to engage with patients but cooperation with patient organizations is an important stepping stone.



The purpose of the industry is to serve patients through a process that involves targeted points of patient engagement, informing all the activities of a company, say participants of an eyeforpharma webinar, called "Engrain patient centricity throughout your company". Participants went on to discuss how such an organization should be structured and how decisions should be made, as well as how to effectively cooperate with patient organizations and when to expect change.

No more silos

Although it is tempting to create a division specialized in patient interaction within your company, don’t fall into that trap. Once a patients’ department is created, it is easy for other parts of the organization to alienate it, and with that to reject the patient-centric philosophy.

“All departments need to take the lead on patient centricity,” said Lode Dewulf, Chief Patient Affairs Officer, UCB. “The entire organization needs to engage with patients, despite the fact that it’s going to be difficult in some cases, depending on legislation". He further noted that from the point of view of reputation, it’s going to be risky to have commercial at the forefront of patient communication because someone may “misconstrue it in the public domain". It is, therefore, advisable for people responsible for patient outreach to be present within all the teams, including R&D and medical. That way you can ensure that the discussions are happening, that you’re bringing the patient perspective into everything from research to brand planning to trial recruitment. In this way, you can represent an overarching patient perspective in a particular area.

Cooperate with patient organizations

As medicine becomes increasingly specialized, drugs that are being developed are targeting smaller patient populations. Recruitment becomes more and more challenging and close cooperation with patient organizations becomes necessary.

“Working with patient organizations becomes [critical] for patient recruitment in the rare disease space, or when raising awareness about rare diseases, or when you’re trying to establish yourself in a particular area,” said Tom Croce, Head Global Patient Advocacy, Shire Pharmaceutical. “Most importantly, however, they carry a level of credibility our industry does not have, so supporting them provides significant opportunities. It’s all about building a relationship, and aligning objectives.”

Continuous relationship building is necessary for a successful cooperation with patient organizations. Meeting patients, or patient organizations, on an event-driven basis is no longer sufficient, and culture change is required. Tony Hoos, Medicines4Patients Consulting, Former SVP, Office of Chief Medical Officer, GlaxoSmithKline, explained: “It’s a continuum. When you have an established relationship, and use an event to get specific information based on that existing trust, that’s different.” He added that the conversation should always be fact-driven, never promotional, especially during drug development. The best people to enter this direct dialogue with patient organizations would be drug development teams, medical affairs, regulatory, or safety. “I don’t think it’s this one function, I think it’s more that the company needs to define a set of values and rules on how they want to interact,” Hoos said.

Time to change

I think it’s impossible to give exact timelines, but if you want to have a little structure, you need to have the top-down intent and a clear vision of what you want to accomplish. Then, if you want an easy first step, create the inventory. What do we really do with patients right now, who does what".

Culture change is a long-term process. How long does it take to shift attitudes and embrace patient centricity? Transformational shift is difficult to put down to a timeline, but there are some approximations.

“It all depends on where your company is today and what the top-down support looks like,” Croce began.

Hoos echoed the sentiment: “I think it’s impossible to give exact timelines, but if you want to have a little structure, you need to have the top-down intent and a clear vision of what you want to accomplish. Then, if you want an easy first step, create the inventory. What do we really do with patients right now, who does what?”

If you can map out your strategy, what your starting point and goals are and how to accomplish them, then you can measure progress. “I guess everybody can go through that kind of a scheme and estimate how much time it might take for each individual company,” Hoos summed up.

Dewulf added: “To speed the process up, you need to remember to involve patients as early as possible in the product life-cycle. We are in an industry with very long lead times, so you should engage patient-focused groups as early as possible. I believe the best way to do this is to work cross-functionally.”

Every single department needs to be aware of their role in patient centricity and this needs to be included in the way they are managed and measured.


Since you're here...
... and value our content, you should sign-up to our newsletter. Sign up here

Barcelona 2015

Mar 24, 2015 - Mar 26, 2015, CCIB, Barcelona

Your Customer is in Charge.