admedicum is pleased to announce a blog series on topics in patient engagement relevant to those in the pharmaceutical industry. This is the second part of the series.
Impact of Patient Engagement on Strategy and Organization
Patient engagement cannot be regarded as a separate, independent area of a company; it must be anchored holistically within it. Engaging with patients runs through the entire value chain from research and portfolio management to development, market access, and marketing. Therefore, patient relations must be practiced actively and continuously, in order to identify and target patient needs and to satisfy them successfully in the long term.
Patient engagement as a holistic change
A widely accepted concept for the systematic integration of patients does not yet exist in the pharmaceutical industry (Source). Frequently, patient relations or patient affairs in connection with pharmaceutical companies is exclusively understood as the communication with individual patients, their relatives and caregivers, patient organizations and/or patient support groups.
However, patient engagement must be understood in a much more holistic way, as the orientation of the entire company towards the needs of patients. Under no circumstances should the patient be misunderstood or addressed as a target group for marketing. The collection and use of patient data alone, whether in the development process (e.g. in clinical trials) or in the marketing phase (e.g. in pharmacovigilance), does not constitute a company active in patient engagement.
To achieve a company focused on patients’ needs, a fundamental organizational and cultural change in the company is required. It can only succeed if patients – as with other experts – are actively consulted and involved in important decisions, so their views have a chance to be incorporated into research approaches or clinical study designs. It is not enough to carry out “patient relations” on a selective basis. Rather, a holistic approach is required that enables a systematic and lasting inclusion of the patient’s perspective.
Integration of patient engagement into corporate culture
A prerequisite for consistent implementation is incorporating patient engagement into corporate culture, processes, goals and personnel structures.
Questions such as:
- “Which patient needs should be addressed with which products or services? “
- “How relevant is the targeted solution to the patient?” or
- “How can the patient view be involved in all stages of development and marketing?“
should become the norm.
The central role of the patient affairs managers
The important work of patient engagement requires high commitment at all major company levels. Patient affairs managers who establish and maintain a systematic, effective and continuous exchange with patients, are of central importance in ensuring patient engagement does not remain a theoretical concept. This requires careful planning and sufficient time and resources. Nevertheless, in the long term, it pays off for the success of the pharmaceutical company as well as for patients.