Is Patient Centricity the Answer?
eyeforpharma's Chairman, Paul Simms, recently caught up with Dr Mary Baker, immediate past President of the European Brain Council, to discuss why “patient centricity is not what pharma should be solely aiming for”.
Mary Baker believes that pharma companies need to change their focus. She states: “If pharma companies pursue that they’re solely patient-led, patient focused, patient-centric, they won’t be able to deliver”.
Focus on society and common goals
Although the patient experience is extremely important, they should not be the sole focus, Dr Baker maintained. We need to look at the broader needs of society. A more sustainable approach is to look at prevention: “If you are just patient centric, that shows that you’re focusing only on the present population that are ill. We need to start concentrating seriously on prevention, where pharma has a huge role to play and has had great success with vaccination programs. We are currently sleepwalking into a healthcare catastrophe that is simply not sustainable. We need to look at the greater societal impact of disease on family and caregivers”.
The sad thing is that pharma companies are not involved in the major health systems; they’re peripheral. They should not be seen as a cost, they should be seen as a trusted partner".
She went on to add: “If we start to talk about society, of which we are all members whether we’re ill or healthy, we might start to get some solidarity into this debate and consensus around common goals. This will enable us to shift the debate away from health being seen as a cost. Health is wealth and a healthy nation is a wealthy nation.
Pharma has a huge role to play in managing our ageing population. She asserts: “The sad thing is that pharma companies are not involved in the major health systems; they’re peripheral. They should not be seen as a cost, they should be seen as a trusted partner, as part of a structure that is helping us manage an ageing population with co-morbidity and polypharmacy”.
Getting creative on prevention
Dr Mary Baker is now President of the European Brain Council’s ‘Year of the Brain’ project.
The Year of the Brain has three main goals:
1. To educate society about how to nurture and protect the brain and prevent brain disease through:
- Raising awareness of the human and economic burden of brain disease
- Communicating personal and societal strategies for preventing brain illness and brain disability
2. To improve care and treatment access for those affected by brain disease by:
- Promoting prioritisation of brain disease in the EU and national health systems
- Promoting early diagnosis and equitable access to adequate treatment and care
3. To increase investment in brain-related R&D for the benefit of future generations by:
- Advocating for increased funding for basic research into the brain
- Incentivizing innovative new treatment options by optimizing regulatory and payer processes
In relation to stroke prevention, Mary underlined the importance of education and awareness at a broader societal level. “We have held events where we have taken peoples’ pulses to screen for atrial fibrillation (AF), which is a potential risk factor for stroke. The majority of people recognize risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, yet, public awareness of AF as a risk factor is incredibly low”.
AF is the most common of heart rhythm disturbances, affecting around 750,000 people in the UK every year. Experts estimate that more than 4,000 strokes a year could be prevented by better awareness among the general public and doctors of the heart condition.1 Two out of three people do not know the warning signs of shortness of breath and palpitations.
Existing models of healthcare are under serious pressure from ageing populations, increasingly prevalent long-term illness and rising patient demand for often expensive new treatments. Relationships between those inside and outside the business of delivering care have never been more vital, especially with money so tight.
End the ‘tribes’. Start approaching this as a society where we all share common ground. Transparency is a good place to begin, and it’s only by working with the industry that you begin to understand, just as it is in any partnership, that it is built on trust and because we’re being kept so apart on this, the trust is easy to undermine. It’s about shared values".
So how should pharma proceed to expand its relationship with healthcare providers and payers and move to being an insider – a trusted partner in the delivery of affordable care?
“End the ‘tribes’. Start approaching this as a society where we all share common ground. Transparency is a good place to begin, and it’s only by working with the industry that you begin to understand, just as it is in any partnership, that it is built on trust and because we’re being kept so apart on this, the trust is easy to undermine. It’s about shared values. When you begin to get the economists in the room with the doctors, you’ll understand the costs and the position of the payers and the regulatory science, all of that, it really begins to help. Because I am a sociologist, that’s what I like to speak about: ageing populations, migrations, time with doctors, counterfeit medicines, changing family structures, polypharmacy: all these things are big challenges and when you’ve got challenges to the ship of health, you need all hands on deck”.
Dr Baker also alluded to some examples of successful partnerships – such as the AETIONOMY consortium, a project aiming to develop a new way to classify Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. This work has received support from the EU/EFPIA Innovative Medicines Initiative Joint Undertaking AETIONOMY grant n° 115568.
The new classification will be generated using data derived from a wide range of new biological approaches and will be based on the underlying causes of the disease. Currently, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are classified by their symptoms and severity but it is clear that this does not represent the many different causes of these diseases. It has been widely recognized that within these broad disease groups, there are sub-groups where the different causes result in the symptoms of memory loss or movement disorder. The collaboration includes 4 pharmaceutical companies (UCB, Novartis, Sanofi and Boehringer Ingelheim), 2 SMEs, 9 Academic institutions and 2 patient advocacy groups.
The message is clear. Multiple stakeholder partnerships have the potential to improve the management of disease and control spiralling costs while harnessing the interests, competencies, and resources of all sectors. To be a valuable part of the holistic delivery of treatment, pharma companies will have to find new and creative ways of collaborating with payers, providers, and patients – and take the big picture into account.
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