Back in our May issue, we focused on one of the hottest topics in pharma today – patient-centricity. Much has been said over the years about this important issue but in 2015 it really came into its own.

 “Look around,” said David Loew of Sanofi. “Aren’t we all patients? It’s no longer us and them.” Yet, how can pharma deliver on this long-awaited promise? Revolution not evolution is needed, said industry thought-leader David Laws. “Being a patient-centric organisation is not continuing what we do today and doing more patient stuff; it’s actually replacing some of the things we do today with new stuff, and we haven’t got our heads around that.”

LEO Pharma's chief executive, Gitte Aabo, went further: “We are not here to generate profits. We generate profits in order to provide better solutions to patient; we are not providing better solutions just to make money.” To help drive this approach, 40 percent of LEO employee incentives are now aligned to areas that are purely in the patient’s interests.

Financial results will follow, said Roch Doliveux, former UCB chief executive. “You gain credibility the day you decide to walk away from money when it would not be the best thing for patients. Then you perform better in making a real difference to the lives of patients, then you deliver superior drugs and then you deliver superior results to shareholders,” he said.

Back to basics

Customer experience, or CX for those with a tendency toward acronyms, is today’s darling of consumer marketing and, increasingly, our clients are asking us why it is important, how they can do it and what it will return.

For too long we have treated doctors and patients differently from typical ‘consumer customers’. With more competition for cut-through than ever before, we need to ensure that all interactions are as impactful and personalised as possible, that content is high quality, relevant and meaningful. To do this, we need to listen to the individual customer to understand what is important to him or her.

We also need to move toward consumer marketing principles – why would we target those living with type 2 diabetes differently from how Costa Coffee or British Airways might interact with them? The benefit? More engaged, higher value customers.

Let’s get back to the basics of great marketing and communications – delivering engaging and inspirational campaigns that maximise the experience for all.

Nicky Walsby, executive director, Health Unlimited


Listen and converse

During 2015, there has been a trend towards some of our pharma clients adopting a more consumer-centric approach to communications – a greater appetite for engaging customers through above-brand activities to create relationships that go beyond the transactional.

Health professionals’ expectations are changing and we are competing with a host of channels for share of voice. Smaller, more nimble companies are leading the charge, taking learnings from FMCG in how to listen, show empathy and converse with their customers.

As an industry, we have to develop more sophisticated ways to engage within the regulatory environment and find better methods of measuring the value of these approaches. With a new competitor set of SMEs on the horizon, it really feels like now is our time to act. 

Kirsty Mearns, managing director, Just:: Health Communications


Breaking the habit

Patient/customer-centricity has been a hot topic throughout 2015, and rightly so. We’ve seen companies embrace the idea of putting the patient at the centre of the design process, which leads to better outcomes for patients, customers and brand. 

However, patient- and customer-centricity is mainly understood in the context of designing new services, yet the process of redesigning existing services can easily leave current users behind.

Getting people to take action is hard, while getting people to change an action that has become a habit is even harder. It is necessary to conduct in-depth customer research to understand their needs and behaviours in order to bring about the desired outcomes and a smooth transition to the new journey for all users.

In the next 12 months, we expect to see a shift toward a deeper understanding of how to redesign patient services. In addition to digital innovation, there will be more consideration for how to transition existing customers or patients to new solutions by taking a behavioural change approach. A focus on behaviour change is the natural evolution of patient and customer centric design.

Anna Tamasi, customer experience consultant, and Elisa del Galdo, head of customer experience, Blue Latitude Health