Last Word

Contributed by:

John McCarthy, VP of Global Commercial Excellence, Astrazeneca

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Patient-Centricity: More than a Catch Phrase

PV0616_JohnMcCarthyJohn McCarthy, VP of Global Commercial Excellence at AstraZeneca, talks about why putting patients first should be a core focus of the biopharma industry.

PV: How is AstraZeneca addressing the trend of patient-centricity?

McCarthy: Patient-centricity can be a way of thinking about how patients’ needs are being addressed while taking our medications. This is how I like to think about patient-centricity. We will never be out of the science business; that is the core of what we do. At the same time, putting patients first is one of our core values. This means it’s incumbent on us if we want patient-centricity to be more than a catch phrase to understand patients’ needs, to follow the research, and develop the insights to understand the journey that our patients are going through. We’re dealing with people. We should remember this first and foremost, and then think about the other influences that impact patients.

PV: How does AstraZeneca go about understanding the patient journey?

McCarthy: I have one recent example to share. We spent a lot of time with lung cancer patients, which led us to a key insight. We found that when diagnosed lung cancer patients had the opportunity to interact with patients who were further along in the journey, they were greatly inspired. We used this insight when developing LVNG With (pronounced “Living With”). We wanted to create that unique opportunity, that serendipitous moment more frequently and earlier on in the treatment regimen, when patients meet each other.

LVNG With fulfills an unmet need of activating this underserved community of people with lung cancer. The community came to life via channels including the website, through quarterly newspapers distributed in treatment centers, and with live meetings, and social media. It provides an opportunity for patients to share their authentic stories and to talk with each other about their journeys. Patients told us that connecting with others can make all the difference to helping them get back to living their lives, but now with their lung cancer.

PV: How did the live digital coaching Day-by-Day program come about?

McCarthy: We needed to understand what happens with heart attack patients after they are discharged from hospitals, including the challenges they face in their day-to-day life. They are given instructions about diet, exercise, smoking, and taking their medicines — all behavior change prompts. We found that these patients are dealing with a lot of emotions and may not be ready to make those changes just yet.  We thought that if we could provide a coach to help patients and their caregivers get through those first four to six weeks after hospital discharge, they could be on a better course for the changes that they need to make in their personal life in order to continue to be healthy going forward.

We developed the Day-by-Day program in partnership with Duke University. The app, designed with Vida Health, acts as a digital coach providing a mix of face-to-face interactions via Skype or voice coaching. By mixing the human element with the digital elements, our hypothesis was that we could make a bigger difference in supporting patients emotionally and getting them to make those healthy behavior changes that they need to make.

PV: How do you measure the success of these programs?

McCarthy: For the Day-by-Day program, we used PAM scores for a four-week period for patients who had a heart attack.
(Editor’s Note: Patient Activation Measure — PAM — assesses an individual’s knowledge, skill, and confidence for managing one’s health and healthcare.) More than 60% of the patients reported increasing their exercise. This outcome points to patients taking better care of themselves and embracing the healthy changes they need to make in their life.

For LVNG With, we used softer measures because it was very much about whether patients felt supported, were they informed of our services, and the number of people we were able to touch through the community and program channels.

It is important to set outcome objectives that are aligned with key insights in order to demonstrate that we can create the right outcome for both patients and the business. This was the constraining factor because these programs were unbranded. Patient-centricity in these cases is not about our medications; it is about our patients. (PV)

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