The Patient Summit USA 2019

Oct 2, 2019 - Oct 3, 2019, Philadelphia

Attend this event to get real case studies which are moving the needle and changing the relationship pharma has with its ultimate customer - giving you practical techniques across the value chain (R&D and commercial) on inspiring cultural change, delivering ROI, tackling enrolment problems, boosting adherence and improving health.

Making it about the patient, with the patient

Danielle Barron speaks to Laurie Meyers, Genentech’s Head of Patient Engagement Operations, about what she learned while creating a new patient engagement function.



While attending a recent eyeforpharma conference, the words of one particular speaker stuck with Laurie Meyers.

“There was a patient who spoke and said something that struck me to the core. He said, ‘if you do it without us, then it’s not about us’. Those words said it all for me, for Genentech, and for all of our industry partners,” says Meyers. “We must involve patients early and often in co-creating and ideating on solutions meant for them.”

Genentech was already working to engage with patients in a more meaningful way before she heard this speaker but his observation has since become a ‘north star’ for Genentech’s new Patient Engagement function, says Meyers.

Today this approach is informing work the company had already been doing to improve the ways it served patients. “We’re continually looking at what we do, who it’s helping, and asking ‘how can we be better?’. Our leadership team listened to customers and patients, they evaluated some of our programs and services, and they said that we must do better.”

She adds that while there were already a number of teams in place who directly worked with patients, as well as many others who served them indirectly, a dedicated and focused initiative on patient engagement operations that would define what a “great experience” for patients looks like was needed; one “that would unify our entire organization around that outcome”, she says. 

The numbers so far speak for themselves. “This team is instrumental in helping patients navigate their journey with multiple sclerosis and to date they have supported over 60,000 patients,” she explains.

Helping to build the Patient Navigation team at Genentech has been one of the highlights of her almost 25-year career in healthcare, which has seen her specializing in patient engagement, organizational design, and change leadership, a combination of roles that left her ideally placed to establish Genentech’s patient engagement function.

Throughout her career she has been committed to helping organizations navigate change and focus on providing excellent experiences for patients and since joining Genentech more than 15 years ago, she has held a variety of patient-centered positions in areas including access and reimbursement, sales, and patient experience. Prior to joining Genentech she spent roughly seven years working on legislative initiatives that drove “optimal outcomes” for patients.

Her long experience in driving and managing change for the better helped her tackle some challenges along the way to building the new team. “One of the greatest challenges is shifting the mindset and behaviors of an entire organization to a shared vision and definition of patient centricity,” Meyers admits.

The lack of consensus for a definition of patient-centricity did not help, she says. “If you ask ten people what it means to be patient-centric, you’ll probably get ten different answers and that can lead to ten very different experiences for patients who interact with us. I am working to help educate our organization and set standards for our industry on what it means to provide seamless, meaningful, and consistent service for patients and their care-partners.”

Despite these initial hurdles, the function is proving to be the glue that joins the company’s entire range of patient engagement efforts. As part of her role, Meyers says she has been actively collaborating with teams across Genentech’s commercial, medical, and government affairs organizations.

“There are so many people who are working hard in the service of patients every day.  We all want to do a great job, and there are so many ideas of how we can improve all our touch points from clinical trials, service centers, websites, and so on,” she states.

In line with this drive to keep improving, Meyers sees the patient function continuing to evolve as she and her team learn more about patients’ needs and wants. “I am so excited to continue learning from patients, their care-partners, and others and am excited to define what ‘excellent’ looks like from the patient’s perspective.

“At some point in our lives, all of us have been or will be a patient and we all have a friend, family member, co-worker, or neighbor who has been a patient. All of us in this industry should be planning, investing, creating, and collaborating as such.”

To this end, Meyers is currently working to establish a cross-therapeutic Patient Advisory Council, that she says will keep the voices and needs of patients and their care-partners accessible and at the center of everything they do. “We will co-create programs and services for patients with patients.  We will take key learnings from the best industry examples of what excellent customer service looks like, and leverage those insights in our work.”

She also hopes to share “best practices, successes, and failures” with other pharma companies, and has the idea of forming a patient-centered consortium. Meyers is undeniably enthusiastic about her work, and says she is keen to grow and develop the patient function she helped establish.

“The opportunities to serve patients greatly are endless. I’m so excited for our journey ahead, and I look forward to continuing to learn and grow from the patients we serve.”


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The Patient Summit USA 2019

Oct 2, 2019 - Oct 3, 2019, Philadelphia

Attend this event to get real case studies which are moving the needle and changing the relationship pharma has with its ultimate customer - giving you practical techniques across the value chain (R&D and commercial) on inspiring cultural change, delivering ROI, tackling enrolment problems, boosting adherence and improving health.

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