Last week I attended the eyeforpharma Patient Summit in London where the theme of “The Medicine is Just the Beginning” truly captured the mindset of the hundreds of pharmaceutical industry attendees. There was a definite change in mood at this year’s conference versus previous years. Instead of conversations dominated by an anticipation to increase patient centricity, the industry has progressed to a focus on delivering services and offerings that truly benefit the patient. We conducted an interactive workshop where our capacity crowd engaged in a design thinking exercise for patients with diabetes. Our workshop attendees followed the design thinking approach practiced by Fjord to create their solutions – there was huge enthusiasm in the room to approach the issue by first immersing themselves truly in the shoes of a patient, then taking a collaborative approach that involves external partners. Within 40 minutes, we saw many creative and holistic solutions from a group of individuals that have never met each other before – it was a truly rewarding experience for everyone. Our booth was also very popular throughout the two days, where we demonstrated an end-to-end patient support scenario using our Intelligent Patient Platform including remote monitoring through FitBit and weight scales (no one got on it surprisingly!), as well as an Augmented Reality app for medical imaging that demonstrated the power of immersive technology in enhancing patient and physician engagement.
We heard many stories from companies who are experiencing varying degrees of success delivering services and offerings and common themes became apparent:
The phrase “talk to the patient, not at the patient” was used often
Many companies are asking “how will what we’re doing improve the lives of the people we’re engaging with?” Only through developing a holistic understanding of the patient (and often non-patient) will companies start to understand what and how they should be offering beyond the pill.
Many companies have developed mission/vision statements outlining their view of what it means to be patient centric, but they recognize that words are meaningless without changed behaviours and visible actions.
The question of trust came up often. When will pharma companies be a trusted source of information and support for patients? How can pharma companies demonstrate that they can be trusted with sensitive information to build trust? What level of transparency is necessary to gain patient trust?
Collaboration is key – the types of needs patients have may not all sit in the purview of pharma companies. Collaborating with the right partners to provide end-to-end value for patients is key
We all agree, moving from a product to a patient centric mindset is a slow process, our recent patient services research indicates that only 1 in 5 patients are even aware of the services available to them, therefore the call for action is imperative. Examples of marketers, long in their roles, who have never talked to a patient were not uncommon and expecting top-to-bottom behaviour changes across an organisation overnight is unrealistic. Starting small, demonstrating impact with a few initial projects and building the right cultural framework set the foundation for scaling to a business-as-usual patient centric mindset.