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In March this year, strong voices spoke defiantly advocating the need for significant change in the relationships between pharma and patients. They counselled what that change needs to look like and what will happen if it doesn’t, firstly at EyeforPharma in Barcelona and then the ABPI AMRC Patients First Pioneering Partnerships Conference in London.
At EyeForPharma, Kris Sterkens, Janssen’s Company Group Chairman Europe, Middle East and Africa, spoke about “Business as UNusual” in his conference opening keynote. At the other end of the event, the closing message from Bahija Jallal, AZ’s Executive VP and Head Medimmune, was that we’re “now entering the 4th industrial revolution … with technology transforming with way we work and relate to each other”. With both execs calling for an urgent ‘change’ in the way healthcare is structured one thing was still apparent, no ones really sure what the future looks like.
Following swiftly behind EyeforPharma, and keen to seemingly keep this message of change alive was the ABPI AMRC Patients First conference. Michael Seres, a long term chronic patient for over 35 years, had clearly seen and heard best intentions presented before. He opened the conference by saying “Change is often talked about but often doesn’t come through … fundamentally we are talking about a change in relationships not just about tools and technology”.
To have a meaningful relationship, language and respect are two components that drive most of the others. In her closing remarks, Sarah Pullen, a carer implored pharma to “stop calling us patients or carers and to recognise us as ‘experts by experience’”. Her experiences and the challenges she faced to become a partner in her son’s care saw her having to spend endless hours seeking information and wrestling with healthcare providers took her away from spending precious time with her son and compelled her to write a book, ‘A mighty boy: A mother’s journey through grief’, to help guide others facing the same daunting experience.
To become truly patient centric we need to learn from the people we serve. As an industry we need to find a way to bring more of these invaluable insights from patients and carers into the centre of our commercial efforts. Too many obstacles stand in the way of patient’s voices being heard in pharma companies. This was recognised in the final comments of Mike Thompson, CEO of the ABPI, as he made a commitment to help us elevate the red tape and alter the processes with a look at the code to help clarify the boundaries.
In the meantime, how confident are you that your organisation is doing everything it can to become more patient-centric? If the company or brand that you work with are sitting watching progress and change happen around you then very quickly you will be left behind and your patients and healthcare professionals will simply walk away.
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