Patient Centricity: Beyond the Wall or Beyond the Milky Way?

Call it advocacy groups, health consumer advocates, consumer organizations, bloggers… the patient voice is more powerful than ever. “Listen up!” they say. If you really want to understand what’s affecting people with any condition, look at their communities, because that’s where you will hear the truth.

It’s hard to be a patient. Every day is a challenge, which requires patience, courage, determination and an incredible amount of faith. As an executive, you have a great opportunity to engage with your audience. However, surfing the internet and “eavesdropping” on people struggling with their condition won’t make you patient-centric.

In a recent interview in Eyeforpharma, Pierre Morgon from Cegedim stated that patient centricity will see a re balancing “with greater weight being given to what is in the best interest of the patient as opposed to the healthcare shareholders.” However, can Pharma look at the patient as a whole and not just someone who consumes their drugs? Patient centricity calls for putting patients at the center of the business model, not only as customers, but also as advisors.

Many companies are understandably wary of the regulatory and legal risks associated with closer patient engagement. The authorities are already taking steps to create various types of entries to the market with immediate consequences on how Pharma companies build their value proposition. Yet, far from the patient voice there are real life obstacles to achieving centricity that cannot be overlooked:

1.       Patient centricity, as defined as truly personalized care, is difficult because of the specificity and the amount of data that needs to be gathered and processed – from prevention to diagnosis, to treatment, to management of outcomes – all the way along the patient journey. The amount of information is vast In this case,  – this is  a solid analytical solution that can automatically process and track large amounts of patient level data can be of help..

2.       The risk-adverse culture of Pharma is an inhibitor.

3.       The third decelerator is the absence of the right skills, processes and organizational structures that promote the smooth interfacing of functions – including data sharing – so that the goal of patient centricity can be reached.

That said, bringing real world data in as a requirement for all decisions is just a first step. To bridge the gap between the patients “Listen Up!” call to actual engagement, companies will need to have patients attend pharma management meetings as participants, embrace innovation programs that  promote patient-centric services and why not…. have rotating Chief Patient Officers.

In the words of Renza Scibilia, acclaimed diabetes blogger and health consumer advocate, “Interaction is critical, whether it’s in developing information resources, a device, advertising or even a social media campaign around public health. Whatever it is, talk to the people it’s going to impact first. Beyond that point, it’s too late to make any changes.”

Have we gone far along the wall to reach the “Milky Way”?