The Shift Towards Patient Centricity (Personalized Medicine: What Pharma Should Do to Get Ready) - Diaceutics

The Shift Towards Patient Centricity (Personalized Medicine: What Pharma Should Do to Get Ready)

October 21st, 2015

Tessa Sandberg

In Part 4 of the series, ‘Personalized Medicine: What Pharma Should Do to Get Ready’, Tessa Sandberg of Diaceutics discusses how the pharmaceutical industry is putting the patient first by making a shift towards patient centricity.

Sometimes you overthink so much that you forget the essence and core of the issue and ask yourself, “What was it all about again?” The other day, I experienced this uncomfortable feeling when discussing with my partner how to organize the perfect birthday party for our daughter. While I thought we should go bowling, my partner tried to convince me to have a big traditional birthday party, with pass-the-parcel and other fun games. The discussion went on for some time until we heard our daughter cry, “I don’t like bowling and I don’t want to play silly games. I want to invite all my friends home and dress up”. Maybe we should have asked her first? It made me realize that the one person the party was for was not even getting a choice in what she wanted.

Pharmaceutical companies might also have recently asked themselves, “What is it all about?” while developing their strategy. The answer is, it’s all about the patient! Pharma indeed starts to consider and take into account the patient’s voice. Does a patient really want to be prescribed a certain drug that can cause significant side effects? Imagine an 85 year-old woman, slightly confused because of symptoms of dementia, who needs to be tested for Alzheimer’s disease by having a spinal tap. At her age, and in her condition, does she really want this painful procedure? Isn’t there an alternative? Different companies such as AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Sanofi have developed specific corporate roles to consider these scenarios and encourage patient centricity within their business (Figure 1). We have identified the three essential best practices that can help large pharmaceutical companies integrate patient centricity into their strategy.

  1. Improve the patient pathway
    When a patient gets sick, he will be prescribed a drug to cure him. But treating a patient is not only about the drug and there are many factors on the patient pathway influencing his quality of health care, such as getting a diagnostic test, the follow-up procedures after treatment and reimbursement for the diagnostic test and the drug. By reviewing the whole patient pathway, pharma can better understand the patient’s experience and identify unmet needs to address in order to improve health care quality.
  2. Listen to the patient’s voice
    Without listening to the patient’s voice, pharma will not be able to achieve patient centricity. In a previous Expert Insight, Gwen Darien, a cancer survivor, confirms this statement by describing the patient as a multi-dimensional person who should be engaged actively in the discussions. She says, “To develop this [personalized medicine treatment approach], we need to understand both the individual and the greater community of which she is a part. We must engage patient voices in open, transparent discussions about issues that are important to them personally.”
  3. Integrate patient centricity into the company’s strategy
    Integrating patient centricity is a feasible task and will likely not require change to the whole company strategy. Pharma companies can develop either a small separate department to deal with everything related to patient centricity or appoint a ‘leader of patient centricity’ who will advise different teams on the topic.

A shift towards patient centricity, or putting the patient at the centre of the discussion, is happening at the moment. Pharmaceutical companies could integrate this concept at the heart of their business and scientific development in order to improve a patient’s outcome. In the end, it is all about the patient!


Figure 1. An illustration, from a pharmaceutical perspective, of the shift from a treatment-centred approach towards a patient-centred one.


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