eyeforpharma Awards - Europe 2017

Mar 14, 2017 - Mar 16, 2017, Barcelona

Because your patients want you to win

"Creating Ripples" with an Award-Winning Focus on Patients

Søren Eik Skovlund is changing the conversation about diabetes patients’ health and influencing national health guidelines.



With its origins back in 2001, the groundbreaking DAWN project was the first global patient survey into the psychosocial barriers that prevent diabetes patients from seeking care. However, under the leadership of Søren Eik Skovlund, Global Senior Manager within Global Access at Novo Nordisk, the second phase of the project launched with even bigger ambitions, engaging 15,000 respondents and truly shifting discourse on psychosocial health policy. From being an issue that was rarely acknowledged by policy-makers, Søren and his team managed to scale up a grassroots operation so that it is influencing national health guidelines across the globe.

Last year, Skovlund’s work and leadership was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the eyeforpharma Awards Europe, a scheme that rewards the most valuable and innovative patient-centric initiatives in pharma today.

When working towards a big goal such as in the Dawn2 project, how do you sustain your energy?

Throughout the project, we were collaborating with a passionate group of advocates who shared the same clear long-term mission – improving healthcare systems by involving the patient as an equal partner. Having these personal connections and a shared mission gave me sustained energy and a sense of making a difference. It is not all the time that we have this as a part of our work, but when we do, it is a privilege to be allowed to make a difference.

Proud is not the right word, as it is not something I feel I can take any credit for, but it is a wonderful feeling, to create these ripples in the world.

What has been the proudest moment in your career?

It is hard to pinpoint a single moment, as it has been more of a journey. What keeps me going are moments where I hear about progress related to our mission. In several countries in Europe and Asia, there are national projects targeting self-management and psychosocial support for people with diabetes, and we are very proud that we have had some contribution.

My colleagues in the US used the findings of DAWN2 to inform content enhancements in our large scale patient support offerings. For example, in response to the results of DAWN2 revealing the gap in support for family members of people with diabetes, new psychosocial materials that address caregiver needs were developed. The responses to filling this gap have been very positive. Proud is not the right word, as it is not something I feel I can take any credit for, but it is a wonderful feeling, to create these ripples in the world.

Winning the Lifetime Achievement Award has inspired me to apply my experience and skills in other ways. If you learn how to use things as a stepping stone for other purposes, then you can ramp up your impact on the world.

I am also fueled by stories of where our work has had an impact, especially the unexpected ones. I once shared a taxi with a professor and we realized, to our surprise, that he was using DAWN results and the teaching tools on patient-centered care that my team generated years earlier, as part of his medical school training. I have since met quite a few people who shared similar stories; just recently, I learned about a national training program for healthcare teams in Iran that successfully used DAWN2 results and educational tools to convey the perspective of people with diabetes to improve diabetes management.

DAWN2 has been tremendously successful but did you ever feel like you had failed? If so, how did you recover?

It is really tough when things do not pan out as expected and there will always be moments of disappointment. I don’t have a process that makes me an expert but I try to take a step back, to focus on the experience and the achievements. They are always there, they have always been done. Even when something completely falls apart, you build up a lot of know-how, and so it is your task to ensure they are carried forward. If you believe in yourself, then you should believe in yourself to do better next time; from the outside, it may look like you are re-setting, but you are really not. You will be better next time.

We are all on our personal journey. It isn't looking at failure; it is looking at transforming skills and experience into a new way of looking at things.

Winning the Lifetime Achievement Award has inspired me to apply my experience and skills in other ways. If you learn how to use things as a stepping stone for other purposes, then you can ramp up your impact on the world.

What’s next for DAWN2?

The world of patient-centricity has evolved since we completed DAWN2 in 2012.There are new stakeholders in healthcare and new opportunities to cultivate innovative patient-centered collaboration at a larger scale.The growing public commitment to patient advocacy and use of technological innovations to enable individual patient empowerment should stimulate all in the industry to rethink how we co-create health solutions with patients, and how we can use behavioral and psychosocial insights to improve the lives of people affected by chronic disease. Personally, I feel compelled to push the envelope and to re-think the scaling-up process within the industry and across the healthcare sectors and disease areas.

Where do you see that big opportunity to scale and what are the obstacles?

Within larger companies, we are clearly on the path to involve patients more and more, but we need to challenge the status quo on involving patients in the big decisions. A big obstacle is the lack of collaboration between different stakeholders; when you look at the cross-cutting challenges of treating conditions like diabetes, cancer, depression and arthritis, projects only succeed through collaboration. We need to get the public, commercial sphere and NGOs working together to create models for patient involvement that will drive real health and quality-of-life benefits, but it will take bold leadership.


Søren was the European Lifetime Achievement winner at the 2016 eyeforpharma awards. Now we want to support and applaud you, to motivate you to reach even further, to help restore pharma's reputation. Visit www.eyeforpharma.com/awards for more information on the 2017 eyeforpharma awards.


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

eyeforpharma Awards - Europe 2017

Mar 14, 2017 - Mar 16, 2017, Barcelona

Because your patients want you to win

comments powered by Disqus