Mapping the Reproductive Patient Journey: Q&A With David Powley, VP of Reproductive Medicine and Maternal Health and Operations at Ferring Pharmaceuticals

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Powley discusses his team’s recent patient journey mapping exercise and the impact it has had on RMMH.

David Powley of Ferring Pharmaceuticals spoke with Pharmaceutical Executive about his work in the field of Reproductive Medicine and Maternal Health (RMMH). Recently, he and his team began a new patient journey mapping process, which Powley discusses the benefits of.

Pharmaceutical Executive: What are the biggest struggles in the field of RMMH?

David Powley: When you think about why RMMH is a unique area in the United States, there’s probably about 1.2 to 1.3 million people that can benefit from assisted reproductive technology. Right now, in the United States, there’s only about 300,000 patients who are receiving care. It’s multifactorial as to why that’s occurring. That includes both the number of firms on the pharmaceutical side that are bringing innovative and advanced care to the market. One factor is that infertility is not as discussed and not as public as it should be. We feel a very real responsibility to elevate the dialogue, resources, and support around providing the information and meeting the needs of the people that are struggling.

Another piece is the level of insurance coverage that currently exists (and has existed for the past 20 years or so) that would enable and empower people to pursue the care that they would require to build their family just hasn’t been present. Thankfully, that’s a situation that’s improving over time. We’re seeing large employers starting to offer fertility related benefits to their employee base.

To summarize, why the need is so prevalent across the US is really anchored in the dynamics and demographics of the United States. Also, there’s a more empowered and engaged potential patient base that is proactively taking on the opportunity to freeze their eggs for future family building. The third is that the market is so underserved from a coverage perspective, but we’re seeing signs of that unlocking.

PE: What are the unique patient experiences and needs in this field?

Powley: What you’ve got is a relatively small, constrained patient population that’s primarily limited to large population centers that is slowly building and growing. The last piece as to why it’s starting to unlock is that therapeutics and improved insurance coverage is not enough to provide the potential patients with what they need. There is an aspect to this around emotional and educational support for patients that they require in this space to feel empowered to step forward to start to seek out the care more proactively they need to build their families. For far too long, those resources haven’t been available, and patients have felt isolated, even within their own families. It’s an area that isn’t openly discussed.

PE: How are you using data to inform engagement strategies?

Powley: We’re seeing the greatest impact as we look for ways to engage patients directly and look for ways to work with other partners in the field. That’s around doing some robust patient journey mapping. There is a general approach where you find the common denominator across all patients and provide the resources that both meet the patient population needs and are effective. What we’ve done is taken on an extraordinarily detailed patient journey mapping process that’s providing us with extensive insights, not only into one particular patient group within the space, but across multiple groups, such as those who are pursuing elective egg freezing as an option. This includes those within the LGBTQ+ community as well.

The fact is, everyone is different, and we recognize the differences that each of these communities face. We believe that the more we understand them, the better we can provide solutions and resources they need. Clearly, no one size fits all. If we’ve learned anything over the past years, it’s that every journey is different and every community has different needs, but they all have the same desired outcomes, which is to become a parent.

PE: What lessons can other companies learn?

Powley: It’s being willing to truly understand the patients. No just from the perspective from within your own four walls, but from going out and truly engaging with them and understanding what their needs are. As an example of something we’ve learned, we’ve developed a platform that is providing real-time, text-based coaching from certified fertility coaches with any patient that wishes to engage with them. The patients get that immediate, strong, and qualified support that they need to make decisions.

It's about stepping out from the boundaries which we have constrained ourselves over time as an industry. First and foremost, we exist to provide effective and safe medications to address the issues that patients and their providers are managing. There’s more to a patient or situation than just the therapeutic, so the better we understand the whole patient journey, the better we can target our therapeutics and provide the resources to provide a more holistic solution to patients.

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