Because patients come first

Patients these days are more well-informed than ever. Thanks to today’s technological and scientific advances, which have made access to information quick and easy. With patients and consumers increasingly becoming more empowered, the pharma industry must embrace opportunities to adopt more patient-centred approaches.  


Beyond the pill  

Patients now seek holistic health solutions, which are more than just the pill and focus on quality, convenience, and cost. Engaging with patients and listening to their voice has become crucial for ensuring future success. Patients are now being recognised as important stakeholders in the health care dialogue as regulatory health authorities (such as the US Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency EMA) are requesting patient inputs into their decision making  

Patient centricity as a concept is not new as such and has, in fact, been discussed by the pharma industry for years. George W. Merck, in his infamous speech, while addressing at the Medical College of Virginia, Richmond in 1950, had expressed exactly the same thing.  “We try never to forget that medicine is for the people. It is not for the profits. The profits follow, and if we have remembered that, they have never failed to appear. The better we have remembered it, the larger they have been.” However, although most drug makers communicate patient-centricity, their definitions do vary, along with the extent of their direct engagement with patients and the number of people in a company that actually internalise patient centricity and innovation into their work. 


The passage to patient centricity  

Traditionally, pharma companies have been known to collaborate and hold dialogues about patient needs with healthcare professionals. Still, there is currently a lack of resonance and relevance from a patient point of view. Considering patient needs and convenience are equally important as the science behind the molecular entity or ensuring its safety and efficacy. Weaving patient centricity in the fabric of the organisation essentially means keeping patients at the centre and making every decision based on the patient as that core customer. To do this, it is vital to understand their needs, requirements, and expectations. Therefore the primary goal must be faster and better access to the best innovative medicines and ensuring meaningful outcomes from them.  

An AstraZeneca led research published by BMJ Innovations co-developed a definition of patient centricity with patients, caregivers, and patient community advocates states, “Putting the patient first in an open and sustained engagement of the patient to respectfully and compassionately achieve the best experience and outcome for that person and their family. Incorporating patient centricity implies that a company engages with patients regularly during the entire lifecycle of medicines and clearly understands their needs and takes all these into consideration when making decisions that impact drug development and access. The core purpose must be to demonstrate how patient centric product development, manufacturing and packaging can truly make a difference to patient outcomes. A patient centric organisation should be one in which all stakeholders are strategically aligned towards better patient care and recognise their potential to positively impact the patient through improved R&D and better products and solutions, thereby increasing transparency, patient trust, and improved patient experience. Understanding the common themes within patient centricity and how to empower everyone from the boardroom to the shopfloor to internalise a patient centric focus in their day-to-day life is the key. 



A successful patient centric culture can be built by creating patient-centricity as a common organisational vision and aligning all operations to create the best value and outcomes for patients. Constantly improving through a better understanding of customers, using a vast amount of data to measure outcome will help optimise people and processes to drive patient experience. The reward for creating value for patients is well worth the journey.  

(1) Optimizing patient centricity – An actionable guide. Cordence Worldwide  
(2) Katrina Megget. Walking the patient centric talk. Pharma Times magazine. May 2018  
(3) Yeoman G, Furlong P, Seres M, et al. Defining patient centricity with patients for patients and caregivers: a collaborative endeavour. BMJ Innovations. 2017;3:76-83.  

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