Why patient centricity throughout the lifecycle is not a fad, sales tactic or trend

About 4 years ago I recall reading the following quote from a pharmaceutical industry professional that “in 15 years of working in the pharmaceutical industry this is the first time I have ever met and spoken to a patient”. At the time this both surprised and enthused me. I heard it during the preparation of a patient forum event, where we were consulting with patients on their experience and looking for their expertise to solve potential problems in communication of disease and treatment information. I felt I was on the cusp of change, an exciting transition where patients are not only listened to but truly valued for their expertise. It, however, surprised me, because in how many other industries would it be acceptable to be so detached from the end customer, for so long?

Admittedly there are stark differences and in many ways the consumer and pharmaceutical markets are not comparable. The pharmaceutical environment is complex, prescribing decisions are influenced by multiple stakeholders and a variety of considerations come into play when choosing treatment solutions. Consumer decisions are largely simpler, made by the person who pays for them and are often made because of desire rather than need (although many are influenced by our behavioural biases). We, therefore, cannot compare a consumer decision to a patient decision (and many patients reject the idea they are consumers with freedom to choose) – but we can learn from many key principles used in the consumer sector. For example, are the most popular, useful products and innovations ever created without extensive customer insight? Without ever really conducting in-depth, hugely expensive but arguably invaluable ethnographical studies? No, other industries invest huge amounts of time and financial resources into understanding their customer base before they develop a product or solution. Popular products are created because they really address issues (large and small) that matter to the type of person using them. Think of self-tying laces, a spill proof child’s cup or a chip activated cat flap…they are all based on a deep understanding of the day-to-day life of the end-user and a desire to make life easier.

This is the same in pharma. As an industry, our shared purpose is to improve the health and lives of people and we can only do this when we invest time and resource into truly understanding what matters to them, i.e. value, clinically and otherwise. This is why patient centricity throughout the lifecycle is not a fad, sales tactic or trend. It is something we must adopt to ensure our products and services are valuable and our industry continues to thrive for the long term.

To read more on how the power of the patient voice is increasing and how the pharmaceutical industry is responding, take a look at my report ‘Pharma’s response to the patient voice’ at https://www.envisionpharmagroup.com/news-and-events/news-events/. The report cites information gathered from eyeforpharma in Barcelona, Envision Pharma Group’s ongoing research activities in this space and our unique Patient Forum in London earlier this year. Ultimately, it asks what does the future look like for pharma in a patient-centric environment?

Sarah Ings is creative strategy and content director at Envision Pharma Group