Nicole Black, Director of Customer Experience, Janssen Biotech
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Changing Healthcare Landscape Requires a New Listening Role Nicole Black, director of customer experience at Janssen Biotech, has a unique role within the company, and within the industry. She calls it “Chief Listener.” Nicole Black, director of customer experience at Janssen Biotech, discusses her responsibility of listening to patients and healthcare professionals to determine — and then share within the organization — their unmet needs, and how those needs can be met through tools and services that will enable better health outcomes. PV: What is unique about your role and responsibilities? Black. My position is a very unique role in our organization. Our culture at Janssen Biotech (JBI) has always been centered on the patient and health outcomes. My role enables an intentional and focused continuation of that patient-focused culture at JBI by ensuring that all of our processes, metrics, even how we onboard and reward our employees have the end patient and customer in mind. I sit on the JBI board of directors and report directly to our company president, Rob Bazemore, to ensure advancing patient care is a critical component to every decision we make. I also work with each and every functional group within our organization to make sure everyone has programs and initiatives lined up that ultimately advance patient care by ensuring that patients can start and stay on therapies. Teaming in this role is very critical. PV: What trends are influencing JBI’s model of empowering the patient? Black: There are more stakeholders and decision makers in the healthcare landscape than there were even five years ago, and increasing healthcare costs are driving patients and other stakeholders — healthcare professionals, the payer community, and advocacy groups — to have greater involvement in patient care. This involvement pushes for shared decision making with the patient at the center, so the industry has to change how it thinks. Some of our traditional strategies have to be shifted to supporting patients and the healthcare professionals so that we all are advancing patient care. This means we need to change how we communicate with the patient and how we commercially present ourselves to the healthcare professional. There used to be a time that once a drug was clinically decided to be the right course of action, that was it; but now it has gotten so much more complicated in terms of Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance plans, the whole process of procuring the drug whether through retail or specialty pharmacy has definitely changed the way the whole pharma model is viewed. The other big trend is improved health outcomes. It is no longer enough that the patient is on therapy but now we need to understand if the intended outcome has occurred. PV: What is the biggest challenge you face every day? Black: Mine is a change management role and like a lot of change management programs it’s about enrolling and aligning stakeholders to a certain vision, which was critical to our organization. That is our commitment at Janssen Biotech; we are squarely focused on advancing patient care. For some other companies, the challenge may be setting that vision throughout the company, but at JBI we have always put the patient at the center. Our challenge now is to all work together across silos and make sure we share best practices across all functions. It’s definitely a new day and the rise of talking directly to the patient is a new model, but the industry needs to evolve and change. PV: How does your role help empower patients? Black: I have the unique purview of working with all our different departments and programs and touch points, as well as the patient, and my job is to connect the dots. I get to orchestrate all the pieces and silos together; it is just so gratifying to see this happening. This ensures that whether an employee is an attorney or on the brand team, everyone is very focused on the patient. I help to facilitate this vision and every day is different. Someone in this role needs to be comfortable with charting a new course and being nimble and flexible, because the healthcare landscape is so dynamic; things are changing at a very rapid pace. I have a personal passion around understanding consumer insights. I help uncover novel insights and get a deeper understanding of patients and customers, as well as proprietary knowledge on how to drive patient engagement, and understanding the journey map of patients. I share all of this information not just with our commercial teams but with the entire organization to make sure everyone is aware of our patients. Even our finance professionals know how their job affects the patient. In my role, I also prioritize projects and investments around innovation and I work with each team to determine its role and accountability and we are slowly shifting toward a culture where each team is invested far more than just what the org chart says its job is. PV: How have you seen your role impact the way JBI operates? Black: We used some rigorous, very innovative marketing research techniques, which uncovered a wealth of knowledge about our patients. We were able to use those insights to produce a cross-functional patient educational project that examined patient journey maps, and we were able to come up with some insightful ideas on the best way to communicate with patients and how to help healthcare professionals talk to their patients to engage them in shared decision-making. Walking the team through this process brought about much more innovative ideas. You could see light bulbs and aha moments happening that wouldn’t have normally happened. And there were several people who stepped forward with new ideas that have caused us to do things differently. PV: How do patients benefit from this approach? Black: Patients benefit because there is nothing more powerful than ensuring that a whole organization understands and empathizes with them, because a company can only educate well when it has a deep understanding of that patient. With this understanding, our organization can determine where to intersect and help them with certain pain points on their journey. We are noticing that there is so much more that we can do in terms of helping with access and affordability, as well as helping with patient education and emotional support. “My job is to make sure that everything we do across all functions at JBI has the end patient in mind. ” Nicole Black / Janssen Biotech