The Highs and Lows of Healthcare

For Doug Noland from Astellas, patient-centricity is personal, having seen the best and worse of healthcare in his own life

Every once in a while, I meet someone who I think should be the ‘patient-centric poster child’.

This person is doing great work advancing their organization’s efforts to create better outcomes for patients (and so better outcomes for their company and people). In the spirit of illuminating our path to patient-centricity, growing together faster than any of us can alone, this column is dedicated to sharing their stories, successes and challenges.

Doug Noland, Head Patient Experience, Executive Director, Astellas US, shares why he is on a mission to create a culture of patient-centricity and loving it.

Before we started the interview, Doug shared his personal story:

“Six days after my daughter’s first birthday, her natural curiosity led to a near-tragic accident. What happened in those next minutes, hours and days, as our baby moved from ambulance to emergency room to life-flight to a major medical center, stays with me every day.

“Vivid in my memory are the incredible first responders and clinicians who urgently coordinated her care in that chaos and took her from the edge of death back safely to my arms. This mix of talent and tenacity, coupled with deep faith, led to a miraculous result – healthcare at its finest helped turn my personal nightmare into an amazing blessing.”

Yet, Noland has also experienced healthcare at its worst – his family has seen how passivity, poor communication, and bureaucracy can add frustration, confusion, pain and anger.

These highs and lows have helped him connect with his purpose – a sense of urgency at how much work there is to be done and the opportunities to do even more for patients and their families.

We spoke at the eyeforpharma Patient Summit in November 2017 and our 20-minute interview has been boiled down into 3½ minutes packed with ideas.

In the interview we discussed:

  • Patient-centricity – no one knew exactly what it was at the start, but everyone thought they already were
  • Building a culture of patient-centricity – top-down and bottom-up
  • Culture, strategy and tactics simultaneously – how ‘quick wins’ create momentum.


If you are interested in illuminating our path to patient-centricity, you may want to get involved in the non-profit The Aurora Project. Curious about the survey results? Read more

Jill Donahue and John Elliott are co-founders of The Aurora Project, Authors of EngageRx and creators of The Power of Purpose.

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