How Serious Are You About Patient Centricity?

Commentary
Article
Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - June 2024
Volume 19
Issue 3

Companies need to alter their thinking to better prioritize patients. Here are three simple yet impactful engagement elements that could help.

Rohit Gupta

Rohit Gupta

Rising cost pressures demand more efficient operations. Micro-launches are creating shorter go-to-market runways. The continued rise of specialty drugs with small patient populations puts increased pressure on companies’ promotional efforts. In this landscape, there are many ideas for how to improve commercial focus and effectiveness. However, maximizing the impact of commercial efforts starts with putting patients first. In addition to being the right choice ethically, it has also become strategically imperative (hence, the widespread discussion in the industry about patient centricity).

Now, believing is one thing, but living the belief is another. Companies need to think differently to truly place patients at the forefront of their commercial strategies. One of the keys to making this shift is for a company to broaden its perspective on promotional tactics. Even if its current tactics—such as robust social media campaigns or healthcare provider education initiatives—are highly effective individually, they often optimize local impact rather than overall effectiveness. Therefore, instead of focusing solely on tactics, a company should adopt a holistic “customer engagement model.” Since patient-centric decisions involve multiple stakeholders, companies need to engage them comprehensively and strategically. Here are three key elements for developing impactful customer engagement models, which will go a long way toward helping companies achieve patient centricity.

1. Design and enable
Too often, customer engagement models that are well-designed end up being unsuccessful because they run contrary to existing organizational structures. Competing priorities across teams, misaligned corporate objectives, and a lack of senior leadership vision are the main reasons these initiatives fail. Therefore, enablement is as important as the design of the customer engagement model. To successfully deploy these models, companies may have to break through the internal silos that were built for a different, brand-driven era. An ideal model must truly cut across teams, and a company must put in place the proper incentives to facilitate this unified approach. In the end, companies should ensure that all practitioners engaged in the effort work toward the common, patient-centered goal.

2. Prioritize patients, but consider all involved
Companies should prioritize patients as the North Star of their commercial efforts but also address all the players that surround them in the treatment ecosystem—from their physicians to pharmacists, to nurses to regulators, to payers. To succeed, commercial teams must ensure they understand the treatment and emotional/decision journeys of all stakeholders, the different needs they have, and the barriers they need to overcome in order to best serve the patient.

3. Go all in (i.e., don’t phase it)
A company should ensure it does not fall into the slippery slope of having the right design and enablement model for customer engagement but then pivoting around short-term, brand-focused objectives. Too often, drugmakers end up in this situation because at the time of enablement of the model, they start characterizing it as a big initiative with a large price tag, are unwilling to garner rank-and-file support for it, or feel overwhelmed by the need to continue investing in the model’s evolution. Therefore, companies need to think in a bit more like a purist and ensure they see the model right through to the end.

About the Author

Rohit Gupta is a partner at Beghou Consulting.

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