For those who work in the life science sector, you can’t fail to have missed the trending term ‘patient centricity’.
Over the last few years, organisations have openly pledged to become more patient centric in every aspect of their business, but what does this really mean? And how is this relevant to KAM?
The life science sector, despite the critics, want to improve patient care.
Every day, pharmaceutical and medical device organisations strive to improve therapies and technologies to save lives, improve quality of life and make a meaningful difference to patients. The level of investment into research and development continues to grow each year, with an emergence of new technologies and treatment options coming through at an incredible pace.
Patient centricity isn’t new.
Let’s face it, if it wasn’t for patients, no life science company would have existed. However, the emergence of the terminology is new, and has been recognised as an area of heightened focus by the majority of life science organisations.
Whilst organisations have continued to invest and develop amazing medicines and technologies which can and do make a huge difference to millions of patients, they forgot the human element.
At a development level, organisations are moving towards thinking more broadly and then adjusting to regulations, and not the other way round as happened in the past. Although, this thinking has a way to go.
When you are working in a cross-functional KAM team, you have little, if any, influence over the approach your organisation has in the research and development space. So let’s think about what you can do.
Reduced access to life science organisations has increased over time. Doors to payers and providers are closing with regularity. The focus from life science companies has been on the introduction of exciting new treatments and technologies, understandably so, when we consider what is involved in actually bringing a new product to market.
However, what has been missing is empathy and insight centred around patients.
Getting excited about science, new modes of action, nano-technology, immunotherapy and so on is absolutely warranted. But the focus moved away from the meaningful. Leaders of life science organisations have openly admitted this and emphasised their intention to improve.
The one thing that life science companies and health care providers have in common is a desire to improve patient care.
Patients inextricably bind the two groups together and should be the focus of every conversation.
Yet, organisations lost sight of that.
Instead, conversations moved to finance, compliance, safety, regulations, guidelines, protocols etc. Everyone became immersed in process.
The complexities of regulations have submerged everyone into a state of perpetual bureaucracy.
I would be surprised if your organisation has not adopted a recent ‘patient-centricity’ programme or approach. Certainly, the big players have openly endorsed a patient centric approach to doing business, as validated by recent life science conferences and publications.
There are many great examples emerging from the life science sector demonstrating a more patient centric approach
But how can you be more patient-centric when operating in a cross-functional KAM team?
Immerse yourself in the patient’s world
Few life-science employees have direct patient contact, as we know. However, the availability of information at our fingertips is immense. Gaining insight into the patient, their disease, their journey and that of their carers is critically important. Patient blogs, charities, lobby groups and patient support forums are readily available for us to view online. Of course, many of us know friends and families who have the disease or condition we are working with. Ask them how it impacts them? How do they feel?
Walk in the patient’s shoes to ensure that you truly understand their experience. It is particularly important to understand the co-morbidities that patients have. These can have a huge impact on their treatment options and overall care plan.
Best practice KAM models operate with cross-functional account teams. Diverse teams play to their strengths to support accounts based on the real needs of that account. There are usually a vast number of stakeholders from life-science organisations involved in any one account, particularly when the organisation operates across multiple therapeutic areas. Medical, market access, sales, marketing, clinical research, pricing, finance etc.
Each person in the cross-functional team has valuable insight to share, but often doesn’t have the opportunity to do so. Setting up a simple communication forum to enable you, the cross-functional team to share your insight about the patient journey is critical. Everyone will have something valuable to add to provide you all with a more robust picture. Sharing is important, but capturing your collective insight and mobilising it through the organisation is critical. After all, insight is just information unless you act on it.
Become part of the team
In the life-science sector it is common practice to be invited to present at health-care provider meetings or in a clinical setting. The attendees frequently have additional presentations as part of these meetings to discuss broader therapeutic topics, new clinical evidence, updates on payer practice and so on. Unless the topics being covered at the rest of the meeting involve specific patient discussions, then ask to stay on. Be part of the meeting. Understand the hot topics for discussion, listen and learn. Become an expert in the broader disease area and recognise the priorities that external stakeholders have. Not only will this expand your knowledge, it will also provide you with some enhanced credibility. Your external stakeholders will begin to see you as more of a partner, because you want to learn and understand.
Listen and be empathetic
Adopting a patient-centric approach to interactions with payers and health care professionals will change the tone of the conversation. Listening and demonstrating empathy towards the patient and the stakeholder’s challenges when managing patients is essential. Payers and health care professionals are faced with tough choices on a daily basis. Your product may not be at the top of their list of priority considerations because there are much bigger issues on the agenda. Recognising and acknowledging these competing priorities and the difficult choices being made can go some way to improving engagement with your stakeholders.
Please share the patient-centric initiatives your organisation have been involved in! Let’s hear some best practice examples.
If you want to understand more about how your KAM model can become more patient centric, then get in touch.