Embracing patient-centric healthcare
The days of pharma merely developing and pushing pills are long gone as the sector embraces patient-centric healthcare. Quite how warm that embrace is varies from company to company but the importance of trying to see the world through the eyes of the patient is doubted by none.
While we still talk about molecules, clinical trials and regulations, the patient is slowly but surely being placed at the heart of everything we do. They are no longer passive participants but real collaborators.
The pharmaceutical industry has, I believe, along with governments and clinicians, come to realise that the paternalistic attitudes towards healthcare in the past, of believing that they know what’s best, will no longer wash. In the UK government’s consultation document, ‘Liberating the NHS: No decision about me, without me’, published in May 2012, declared that “genuinely shared decision-making is about giving everyone more say in decisions about their own care”.
The government’s stance echoes what Boehringer Ingelheim had been doing for many years. We have never simply paid lip service to the concept and have done a lot of good work with patients, patient groups and carers, e.g. simplifying the materials we produce for them.
However, we also acknowledge that in the past Boehringer has had a piecemeal approach, with people from market access, marketing, health policy and medical coming at the issue of patient centricity from very different angles.
This is why we began the ‘painting Boehringer Ingelheim’s future’ initiative here in the UK, to see how we can embrace patients and carers at a deeper level and benchmark what it is being done. We are now creating a method of scoring our efforts to be truly patient-centric.
In an effort to understand what should be measured, the patient groups we work with were asked what pharma patient-centricity means to them. The one thing they all agreed on was that while it was easy to talk about being patient-centric, it was much harder to ‘walk the talk’.
This confirmed the need for a benchmarking tool that can demonstrate, both internally and externally, that the company listens to, and takes action on, the views of patients and carers.
The project is moving on at speed and our medical director Klaus Dugi noted that we are currently agreeing on a scoring system that will not necessarily be based on numerical targets. It could mean that any patient-facing materials Boehringer produces have been read by a panel of patients who can confirm it is useful, relevant and understandable. More importantly, the panels will suggest changes and recommendations when the materials fail to meet these standards.
The people we have surveyed are unanimous in saying that companies need to not only listen but also hear what is being said and act. We agree and are committed to investing not only money but more importantly our people, time, enthusiasm and ideas.
I have written a white paper, ‘Patient centricity: What it means and why it’s important to have patients at the centre of our thinking’. It includes information on our collaborations with the British Lung Foundation, Asthma UK and Carers UK and the pioneering scoring system we will be setting up. Please read it and let me know what you think in the comments!.
If you would like to read our other White Papers, you can see them here: https://blog.boehringer-ingelheim.co.uk/white-papers
Job code number: UK/GEN-151049
Date of preparation: August 2015