In recent years, pharma companies have leaned heavily into the idea that patients hold the key to unlocking a trove of useful information. From providing valuable feedback on treatment outcomes to giving insights that aid clinical research, engaging patients has become a critical step on the path to pharma’s success.
For this installment of our ongoing series, “PharmaVoice Forecast,” which features predictions and ideas from our community of life-sciences executives, we asked this question: What are some of your key areas of focus in the short-term?
Here’s what they had to say about how exploring patient experiences can offer greater opportunities for growth, while also delivering more equitable care.
Data can aid health equality
“I’m hopeful about opportunities to unlock the power of data and precision medicine to drive health equity by leaning into the efficiencies, accountabilities and targeting of scarce resources that they enable. I’m also struck by the groundswell of activities already underway by teams across our company to address inequities and better meet the needs of the diverse communities we serve. They are asking what role can we play in helping to address the social determinants of health? What can we learn from different collaborations across the globe, including the ongoing efforts that Merck supports? And what does it take to more holistically support patient journeys and help to build healthier and more equitable societies?” ~Mary-Ann Etiebet, associate vice president, Health Equity, Merck & Co.
Diversity will inform clinical research
“It’s so important for the life-sciences community to embrace the power of diversity. I’m proud to be part of a company and a majority-female leadership team that recognizes all the ways diversity, equity and inclusion can strengthen our business and help us better serve our patients.
Taking it a step further, it’s important for those who conduct R&D programs and clinical trial research to consider diversity — by culture, ethnicity, age and every aspect of gender — as core to our goals. By prioritizing diversity in our teams, research, access strategies and beyond, we can begin to fuel greater and more equitable innovation.” ~Susanne Fiedler, chief commercial officer, Organon
Social issues will provide valuable patient insights
“Addressing social determinants of health (SDoH) is a major opportunity. As the COVID-19 pandemic revealed, there was a disproportionate impact on a population where social issues had more of an influence on their health outcomes than their genetic code. We must balance the science behind our solutions with an understanding of the social issues. A powerful new drug may have value to a respective disease state, albeit if we are not addressing at the same time the social issues of the individual to whom the drug will be prescribed for, we will continue to squander away dollars and quality.
It will be important for all leaders within the healthcare industry to work together to move investments from the sickcare bucket to healthcare, and make investments in areas that impact SDoH.” ~Donato Tramuto, CEO and chairman, Health eVillages, PharmaVoice Red Jacket
Human connections will power a healthier world
“The biggest opportunity for us together is to democratize those human connections, using digital human connections to tear down the HCP/patient silos. It’s already starting organically; HCPs are communicating with patients on social media, and patients are hopping on telehealth calls minutes after talking to an influencer about a new medication. A recent Health Union survey revealed that patients agree that their HCP relationships improve when they use social health connections to become more informed and supported in their journey; specifically, 73% said they were better able to communicate with their HCPs.
Our work with continuing medical education companies has shown that HCPs are excited to learn from patients. Making patients and HCPs peers in the treatment journey is the biggest opportunity we may all see in the next 10 years.” ~Jack Barrette, chief innovation officer, Health Union, PharmaVoice Red Jacket
Empathy can deliver results
“The biggest opportunity lies within our ability to influence positive health behaviors with human empathy and to deliver with digital purpose. We’ve seen necessity leapfrog us into digital/connected health. Rich health information suddenly became more available, even more accessible, not so arguably less ‘human.’ The empathetic, warming, social and haptic qualities of human interaction were abruptly disconnected from digital innovation. The value lurking within the union of human influence and digital reach is untapped.
Health literacy, stigma, fear, loneliness, and the complex emotions that make healthcare human stand in the way of adoption behaviors. Patients (people) in new situations often sit in a ‘trough of disillusionment,’ that requires a powerful enabler to enlightenment.” ~Michael Oleksiw, CEO, Pleio
Cracking the code on patient care will be critical
“For years, life-sciences organizations have worked deeply with the healthcare community by building relationships with physicians and with healthcare organizations. Patients, for the most part, were viewed less as individuals and more as extensions of those healthcare communities. Moving forward, cracking the code on patient needs will be critical. By understanding patients not just as an extension of a clinical process, but as individuals with both health and wellness needs, we will move from the age of the patient as the receiver of knowledge and treatments to the age of the informed healthcare consumer. This new healthcare consumer…will collaborate with an ecosystem of partners involved in care. And they will proactively engage with life sciences organizations to identify all potential treatments and trials.” ~Jen Goldsmith, president, Tendo Systems, PharmaVoice 100
Creating an ongoing dialogue with patients is key
“Despite the progress with COVID-19, there are still too many medical and logistical barriers for most people to participate in clinical research. This problem presents a prime opportunity for the industry to truly embrace a patients-first approach. It’s vital to create an ongoing dialogue with the patient community to gain better insights on patient needs, so we can develop effective solutions that improve patients’ quality of life. I also believe that as we improve the patient experience and infuse the patient perspective across all studies, we’ll be able to enhance our ability to deliver innovative clinical trial solutions that meet our customers’ needs.” ~Clare Grace, chief patient officer, Parexel, PharmaVoice 100
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