There’s some way to go before pharma companies are routinely seen by the general public as heroes rather than villains, so recent data showing that trust in pharma has moderately improved has been welcomed by the ABPI.
Many companies use ‘hero’ stories, focused on benefits to patients, to position the industry in a positive light, but there’s wide variation in patient-centric practice, and some initiatives have little or no real impact on outcomes that matter to patients.
One of the best ways to make sure patient-centred projects are really effective is for companies to work in partnership with patient and healthcare professional organisations. Collaboration can take many forms: industry-sponsored meetings that deliver value by upskilling nurse specialists; ensuring a brand value proposition is relevant and resonant by co-creating it with clinicians; increasing adherence by involving patients in study design; or improving understanding between clinical specialities through partnerships that help them work together more efficiently along a care pathway.
Whatever the context, effective collaboration is built on six common principles:
1. Clear, patient-focused objectives, explicitly agreed and documented.
2. A shared commitment to common goals.
3. A realistic timeframe – setting up a partnership needs more planning time at the outset than working alone.
4. A clear understanding of roles and responsibilities, as well as each party’s contribution.
5. Good communication – reviewing progress, sharing information and keeping everything on track.
6. Transparency and authenticity, which are vital for building trust.
Healthcare delivery is changing rapidly. Working closely with stakeholders helps pharma understand its customers’ perspectives and environment, and deliver appropriate solutions – initiatives aligned with value-based healthcare principles, for example, or supporting patient-reported outcomes. Joint working also helps the industry share the limelight with clinical or patient stakeholders, who are very often the real heroes of the story.
Maya Angelou defined a hero as “any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.” Collaboration is a highly effective way for pharma to put patient-centricity into practice, so that everybody involved can feel proud of making this a better place for patients.