Year in Review 2015: Patients
Here are the top patient articles of 2015.
2015 can be summed up as the year when we started to see some of the innovations emerging from patient-centric operations. In this regard, pharma started to mirror many other industries that are striving to become part of the new economy by looking at ways to serve their customers better and to instill a sense of purpose into employees. Here are some of the highlights.
Barcelona 2015 was a seminal event. The CEOs of several major pharma companies pledged, in a public forum, that they would reprioritize their business models towards patient need, would reward staff against these metrics, and would remove any staff member who did not sign up to this philosophy. Patients were center, front and back of the whole conference. Every panel, workshop and plenary session was kicked off or ended by questions from patient representatives. The journey is only beginning.
A successful example of the patient agenda being driven forward was shared by Kimberly Stoddart, VP for HR and Communications of LEO Pharma Canada. Their ‘Engage for Better Patient Care’ program, which began with every employee examining how their work had an impact on the patient, was recognized at the eyeforpharma Philadelphia Awards as the ‘Most Impactful Emerging or Global Initiative.’ A survey conducted six months into the program indicated the positive effect it was having on employees’ understanding of how best to focus on the patient.
Sanofi joined LEO Pharma Canada in pursuit of embedding patient-centricity into the organization and, according to Dr Ann Beale, Chief Patient Officer, while employees had no problem with the new direction, they did have questions about its implementation. Her approach to this was to make patient-centricity purpose-driven and meaningful to employees by using practical cases to clarify the concept of focusing on the patient.
UCB certainly weren’t prepared to be left behind in the evolution of a patient-centric pharma. Jean-Christophe Tellier, new CEO of UCB, spoke about the company’s creation of Patient Value Units. With a changing environment, he discussed the external focus required by pharma and a greater connection with stakeholders. He also stressed the importance of having cross-functional teams to work together, and of listening and learning to create new solutions. The key message was that by creating value for the patient, you create value for the company — and, in turn, you create value for shareholders.
Tellier clearly had a strong foundation under his feet, with UCB’s former CEO winning the ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award at the eyeforpharma Barcelona Awards. From the start, Roch Doliveux’s leadership was defined by a patient-centric approach, which stemmed from his desire to impact people’s lives. Doliveux stressed that it isn’t what you say, but what you do. In other words, companies need to be prepared to walk away from opportunities if they aren’t patient-centric.
UCB continued to take the 2015 limelight with UCBCares coming away from eyeforpharma’s Barcelona conference with the ‘Customer Innovator’ Award. Christi Marsh spoke to Thomas Disley about the creation of the customer-centric information service. With the belief that customers shouldn’t be navigating around departments for their solution, a new, single integrated solution center team was launched with a powerful mission to wrap the experience around the customer instead of the customer around the function.
We also saw the principles of patient-centricity being translated into technological innovations, and Dr Kalahn Taylor-Clark spoke about how smart devices and associated technology are starting to have an impact on data accumulation of real-world evidence. The one caveat is that patients have different abilities to navigate and use technology-based applications, which could lead to biased survey samples and reduced effectiveness of technology-based solutions. Social online listening can be used to facilitate better clinical trial design and this, coupled with new technology, can also help to better identify patient profiles and recruit populations that haven’t historically participated in clinical trials.
Despite great strides being taken towards patient-centricity, there is also room for huge improvements. For example, Katarina Halling, PRO Group Director, Global Medicines Development at AstraZeneca, spoke about how data from patient-reported outcome measures – which is effectively the voice of the patient – remain underutilized. From being simply ‘nice to have,’ it is suggested that PROMS be used for: successful regulatory approval; reimbursement; more effective clinical trials; to inform the licensing of new drugs; to aid in the research and development.
Another area requiring immense improvements around patient-centricity was highlighted by Bernard Munos, who discussed how a lack of focus on the patient has deterred many from participating in clinical trials. There was a pervasive sense from patients of being used as guinea pigs — simply a source of data collection for scientists - and receiving no feedback relevant to their condition. However, many patients are now taking a proactive approach, which has seen the emergence of global Internet communities and the raising of money for research into cures. Munos concluded that pharma has no alternative other than to re-examine its R&D process with the patient experience as the focus.
Jill Donahue discussed the imperative of addressing pharma’s current poor access to healthcare providers by transforming the business approach from being product/profit focused to being purpose/patient focused. She named three books that underline her philosophy that when the patient comes first, everyone wins: The Purpose Economy, by Aaron Hurst; Grow, by Jim Stengel; and, Give and Take by Adam Grant.
As part of eyeforpharma’s Women in Pharma series, Mette Aagaard Hertz, Corporate Vice President at Novo Nordisk and Head of Human Resources in Research and Development, talked about pharma’s responsibility to maintain high standards of patient-centricity in the fight against global health problems. In particular, she shared how employees of the company, for which there are over 40,000, stayed connected to the patient through ‘The Patient First Program’ - where selected employees are trained to have an in-depth understanding of what it is like to have a chronic disease, and how these ‘patient ambassadors’ then keep all staff informed of the physical and psychosocial implications of a condition.
Another inspiring interviewee was FORUM Pharmaceuticals CEO and President, Deborah Dunsire, who spoke about her move from the oncology sphere into dementia-related illnesses. To be in a therapeutic space where she feels there isn’t adequate therapy and where performing medicines can really be brought forward is a strong motivator for Dunsire. While investment in psychiatry and neurological diseases has been cut-back because pharma companies feel the biology isn’t understood enough, she is confident that in the coming five years this will change and that the industry will get a better handle on the genetics.
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