Patient centricity: authentic engagement or lip service?

Paradigm shift from doing to and for patients, to a more engaging environment of doing with patients
By Anthony Farina

Nearly every healthcare organization talks about putting patients first, but what does patient centricity really mean? CSL’s CEO and Managing Director Paul Perreault, who recently addressed the subject of patient-centric leadership at the 14th eyeforpharma Philadelphia Summit, says it’s about innately understanding the big picture, in other words the patient’s whole story, not just his or her medical condition.

“It requires understanding patients’ specific needs, what they’re going through, and the types of stresses these conditions place on them and their families,” Perreault says. “It also means providing not only treatment but resources and emotional support designed to improve outcomes and enhance quality of life and wellbeing.”

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Authentic patient engagement

Patients today expect pharmaceutical companies to provide education, support, and assistance with access and connecting patients with critical resources in addition to developing new products.

Patients today expect pharmaceutical companies to provide education, support, and assistance with access.

In Perreault’s view, the successful pharmaceutical company of the future will require an authentic form of patient engagement. As an example, CSL Behring’s “Common Factors” program is a unique collection of educational events dedicated to bringing members of the bleeding disorders community together through a variety of live venues and online forums.

The program was created in large part because many patients with a bleeding disorder have never met another person with the same condition. Many of them feel isolated, and they want to connect with other bleeding disorder patients to share common experiences.

Listening to patients

“Companies must be willing to listen to patients,” Perreault says. “The patient community knows what they need, why it would make a difference, and how it would improve their lives. Their input can be an impetus for us to develop and deliver therapies that give them the freedom and flexibility to manage their condition in a way that best fits their lifestyle.” Patients also look to the pharmaceutical industry to raise awareness of diseases and the importance of early diagnosis, Perreault added.

Shifting paradigm
There is a paradigm shift from doing to and for patients, to a more engaging environment of doing with patients.

We can’t ignore what is changing in the world around us because these changes further impact what patients expect from the pharmaceutical industry. The rise of digital and social channels puts more information and decision-making in the hands of patients. As a result, there is a paradigm shift from doing to and for patients, to a more engaging environment of doing with patients.
This shift is especially relevant in rare disease communities, where patients are already well educated on their condition when they come in for an appointment with their physician.

There is a tremendous opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to provide more robust and accurate information to educate not only patient populations, but the healthcare community as well. The proliferation of smart devices allows patients to track their own progress and can provide an important means by which to deliver care. New technology is now leveraging health data, enabling providers to make better and faster diagnoses, as well as more informed treatment decisions.

New technology and patient centricity

Taking advantage of new technology also helps foster a patient-centric organization. For example, mobile apps are being increasingly used by patients, and technology is also being used to improve things such as compliance and dosing.

No matter how large a company becomes, it’s important to never lose connection with the people who rely on its therapies.

No matter how large a company becomes, it’s important to never lose connection with the people who rely on its therapies. One way of accomplishing this is to routinely connect patients with staff at all levels. At CSL Behring, patients visit our offices and share their stories and meet our staff, and our employees are involved in patient events around the globe. Our plasma collection centers sponsor Adopt-a- Patient programs, and we conduct patient tours at our manufacturing sites around the world, enabling patients to share their stories with our manufacturing personnel.

A personal connection to patients runs throughout every aspect of our operations because in the end, they are the real customers. It is our ability to listen and meet their varied needs that determines whether we are a truly patient-centric organization that delivers on our promise.

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Anthony Farina is CSL Behring’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Communications

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