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Getting to the Centre of Patient Centricity

23 May 2016

How many times have you heard or read the term “patient-centric” over the last year? How about “patient-focused”? Our guess is a lot.

Such phrases have risen rapidly to popularity, and are often seemingly used too liberally, giving a nod to approachable patient centered care, without having to go too deeply into what this entails. However, paired with a general move toward a healthcare market that focuses on outcomes in patients’ lives rather than their own brands and products, patient centricity as a concept suddenly becomes meaningful.

While cynics might suggest that patient centricity is just marketing jargon, making the same blockbuster drugs more approachable to an increasingly sentimental audience, many pharmaceutical companies are finding that shifting their business models to focus on the needs of patients not only ensures compliance with the reward-for outcomes policies of governments and funders, but also increases revenue and improves participation in clinical trials.

Pharmaceutical companies occupy a unique position in which the physical and mental comfort are at the very core of business. The needs and experiences of patients not only reflect the success of pharmaceutical products and services, but also provide valuable insights into every aspect of pharmaceutical work, from researching and testing new treatments to side-effects and chronic disease management.

Whatever words we use to describe the phenomenon, patients are undoubtedly at the center of the Life Science sector, and by making patient centricity the heart of the industry’s ethos, we are driving very important change.

How, then, can we ensure that we don’t treat patient centricity as a mere fad or piece of jargon? We’ve brought together a few key aspects of true patient-focused practice, to usher in true culture change and achieve the best possible patient outcomes.

Make Patients Key Partners

The first step in achieving a patient-centric culture is an attitude shift. Stop thinking of patients merely as consumers, and start looking at them as key partners, working tirelessly toward the same goals as you are. Many individuals who have chronic illnesses experience a feeling of isolation as a result of their conditions and treatments, and dread being made to feel like a number. Turn the tables and assure them that every insight that they have to offer is of unique value to you, to the pharmaceutical industry, and to others suffering from the same conditions.

Genuine patient-centricity revolves around understanding a patient’s first-hand experience of his or her condition, and applying it toward a positive healthcare outcome. A clear and consistent dialogue in which patients feel like equal stakeholders will allow you to make changes in your products and services that truly reflect patient needs, therefore leading to more positive outcomes and aligning with government policies.

Maintain Regular Contact

The first step to creating a positive and productive relationship with your patients is long-term contact. Building trust is vital, with many sufferers of chronic illnesses feeling vulnerable when it comes to discussing their conditions.

Gaining truly vital insights from patients means investing in them, and starting the relationship off on the right foot by giving them all the information that they need before, during and after their treatment. This will build a culture of transparency between your company and its health consumers, creating a space in which they feel comfortable sharing information in return.

Seek Regular Feedback

More than ever, pharmaceutical research needs to focus on individual differences, stepping away from a one-size-fits-all approach that may leave patients feeling sidelined. That means that data can only take us so far in our quest to improve patient outcomes across the board. It is not enough to measure patients’ responses quantifiably - we now need to actively ask them for rich qualitative data.

For comparison’s sake, it may be necessary to formulate this feedback as a survey, asking each patient the same questions about their individual experiences. However, don’t let this stop you from requesting regular written or verbal feedback from patients about anything that they feel is important to mention. Patients will feel more candid about giving their genuine opinions in a less formal manner than via a branded questionnaire.

Facilitate Culture Change

While true patient centricity should begin between you and your patients, the hope is that the ethos will spread throughout the pharmaceutical industry and catalyse a paradigm shift. 

To facilitate this change, Life Sciences leaders need to look objectively at what’s not working in current pharmaceutical culture, and engage in meaningful discussion about a new patient-focussed direction. Start by looking at the company culture within your own organization, and asking whether everybody is clear and passionate about their role in the business, and its pertinence to patient outcomes.

Enthuse all employees with a patient-centric ethos by hosting regular talks and events that highlight patient outcomes, as well as circulating case studies. Not only will this show employees at all levels that their work makes a genuine difference, but it will also allow them to demonstrate an authentic and active attention to patient centricity throughout their own work and connections.

When it comes to creating a genuine culture of patient centricity, healthcare providers, governments, funding bodies, and most importantly, patients, all need to work together to re-assess current pharmaceutical culture from the ground up. We find ourselves at an exciting situation in which we can work with our patients, gathering truly unique insights into providing high quality care for all.

What’s your opinion on the future for patient centricity? Join us on LinkedIn to discuss and debate with Life Sciences professionals around the world. Learn more about our bespoke, white glove approach to patient centricity. Contact us today

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