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Beyond the Buzzword: Finding Your Patient Centricity


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Sponsored contentThe term “patient centric” has become an almost catch-all term. Cheryl Lubbert looks at the broad range of its application. A review of how patient centricity is being applied shows that it is all of these things and more. A look at just a few different uses of the term shows the broad range of its application:

It seems everywhere you turn, patient centricity is there.  Sometimes the term is “patient-focused” or “patient-centered.” Either way, the concept is top-of-mind in all corners of the healthcare industry, as it should be.  But because it is being used in so many different areas, the term “patient centric” has become a broad, almost catch-all term. Does it mean longer doctor visits, personalized gene therapy, big data collection and analysis, interactive electronic health records, new clinical trial designs?

A review of how patient centricity is being applied shows that it is all of these things and more.  A look at just a few different uses of the term shows the broad range of its application:

In drug development decisions:

• Last month, the BIO International Convention included much focus on bringing the patient into drug development, with one speaker calling “patient centricity the ‘blockbuster drug of the century.’” “BIO 2015 Kicks Off: Patient-Focused Drug Development Key…,” the headline read after the first day, and that speaker, Marc Boutin, with the National Health Council, updated a phrase from health IT consultant Leonard Kish a few years ago by in a key way by changing “engagement” to “centricity.”

• BIO also issued a white paper expanding on the topic, “BIO Calls for Increased Emphasis on Patient Perspectives by Biopharma, FDA.”  BIO recommends borrowing FDA's established structured benefit-risk (sBR) framework, which it uses to evaluate all New Molecular Entities (NMEs) and as of 2017 will be used to review all new drugs, in order to “to reflect the views of patients early on in the product development process-not just at its conclusion.”

• Annalisa Jenkins, who joined as CEO of Dimension Therapeutics after leading global research and development at Merck Serono, discusses what she describes as an evolution in the biopharma space towards patient-centric drug development in Forbes.  “Jenkins believes that to enable this evolving approach, the voice of the patient must be brought into all aspects of drug development.”

In hospital design and operation:

• Consulting firm The Advisory Board says hospitals want to be patient centric but are trying to serve too many masters: “Providers have talked for years-with the best of intentions-about being patient-centric…, [but] at the end of the day, demand for hospitals' services has been directed by physicians, not patients.  And since physicians have been the patient traffic controllers, provider organizations have naturally oriented their facility strategy, technology investments, and program planning around [physicians'] needs.”

For doctor’s offices:

• In “The 7 Habits of Highly Patient Centric Providers,” on Forbes.com, David Chase encourages physicians to move beyond self-serving administrative patient portals to provide multi-provider access and trusted health resources, make data portable and communicate on the patient’s terms.

• Bruce Chernof, MD, says patient centricity for physicians will require a new measurements and tools that look beyond clinical markers from an acute care perspective that ultimately reveal little about a patient’s daily living needs or guide decisions about their ongoing care.

In clinical trials:

• A cardiac trial takes its patient centricity role so seriously that it is included in the name of the trial: ADAPTABLE (Aspirin Dosing: A Patient-centric Trial Assessing Benefits and Long-term Effectiveness)

It’s clear that pharmaceutical companies are working to embrace patient centricity and figure out where it fits into their organization.  Sanofi has actually changed its structure, creating the role of Chief Patient Officer and hiring Dr. Anne Beal (@acbeal), former Deputy Executive Director of the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), for the post.  Her responsibilities include “elevating the perspective of the patient within Sanofi and finding better ways to incorporate the unique priorities and needs of patients and caregivers.”

So what can the biopharmaceutical industry draw from this spectrum of patient centricity concepts? What are the core principles?  I see three that are universal:

1)     Regular Contact – Relationships are not built in a day; they require long-term contact and trust built over time.  There is no time limit on patient centricity.  We must deeply invest in health consumers, meet them where they are, provide the information they need for adherence and progress and ensure an exchange that feels authentic.

2)     Patient Perspective – Research has shown that we learn from stories, that our brains are actually hardwired to remember complicated information when we hear that information in the form of a story.  Data can only take us so far.  To be truly patient-centric, we need to emphasize the experience of patients, individually and collectively, not just the numbers they represent.

3)     Open Innovation – This approach requires listening to patients needs and wants and solving the problems they present in the best ways possible FOR THEM.  As an industry, we have the resources at our disposal to create both online and off-line solutions that make lives easier, experiences better and connectivity a real part of what we do.

Where can we look for inspiration to apply these concepts?  In the consumer space, we see great examples of patient centricity’s close cousin, consumer centricity.  Working with the principles outlined above, innovators have created new markets, launched successful products and programs, built brand loyalty and increased consumer engagement, all based on what their consumers want and need:

Starbucks customers vocally expressed their displeasure with waiting in line for their daily coffee.  So Starbucks added simple, intuitive Order & Pay functionality to its app.  Now you can order your half-caff espresso macchiato on your way, pay for it in the app and bypass the line at your favorite Starbucks to pick it up.

Anyone who has ever needed a cab but had no cash or desire to stand in the pouring rain trying to flag one down knows why Uber is growing at such an explosive rate. Uber meets its customers where they are using geo-location, ensures cash-free ease of payment automatically via the app and communicates through a very simple interface that is active and engaging.  You can see your car heading to pick you up on the map and know exactly, to the minute, when it will arrive.

Nike has expanded far beyond its athletic shoe origins by supporting athletes of all types and abilities in all they do.  Brand company BigDoor summarizes all-encompassing Nike’s approach: “With Nike, you get everything you need to start training, from workout gear to water bottles to equipment and more. Once you’ve purchased your gear, you can engage with the brand on a variety of personal levels, from apps to track your fitness progress to engaging with the brand through their various online channels. No matter your level of competitive fitness, you as an athlete are at the heart of everything Nike does.”

So when we integrate patient centricity, it’s really about listening to the experiences of our customers and internalizing them throughout the organization to create better products and services, better engagement and adherence, and relationships that last.  We undertake these efforts to improve the lives of our customers and the health of our businesses, in harmony.

About the Author

Cheryl Lubbert (@healthvoices), President and CEO, Health Perspectives Group, has more than 20 years of general management and commercial development experience at Fortune 500 companies leading blockbuster launches and commercialization efforts. 

Health Perspectives Group is a family of companies that amplifies the consumer experience to transform healthcare. For more info: http://www.hpgroupllc.com  

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