Empowering Patient-Centricity for the Future of Health 

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Power of Ideas - Future of Health Summit 2019

Empowering Patient-Centricity for the Future of Health 

Author(s)
Anita Gupta
Anita Gupta
(Senior Vice President, Medical Strategy & Government Affairs, Heron Therapeutics)

As the United States continues to address the ongoing opioid crisis, policy makers, health-care providers, corporate stakeholders, and patients are having difficulty balancing opioid misuse prevention strategies with widespread calls to curb their use in the aggregate. Indeed, the statistics are sobering. Drug overdose is currently the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Opioids, which include heroin, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and fentanyl, are driving the crisis into a fragile state across the United States. Currently, on average, 130 Americans die every day from opioid misuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.  

Empowering Patients as Change Agents 

Amid the devastation, the voice of patients and their families are emerging as the new change-makers in redefining this public health challenge. Uniquely empowered, patients are positioned to provide valuable insight that guides stakeholders in best practices and a better understanding of their unmet needs, experiences, and view of what they value to thrive. Engaged patients view themselves as equal stakeholders in a collaborative health-care effort with providers, drug developers, and regulatory authorities. And rightly so.  

Evidence demonstrates that when we empower our health, outcomes improve. That is the power of patient centricity and engagement—whether it is a provider or patient.  Moreover, connecting this value to drug development will ultimately serve society with the best potential drug discoveries that will drive innovation forward to break through to solving our communities’ most significant challenges of the future. It can help to better address gaps in our public health efforts, including the shortening of US life expectancy mainly driven by deaths from the opioid crisis and potentially many other health challenges facing our society. 

As a physician anesthesiologist on the frontlines of the opioid crisis, we are treating more involved patients on the frontlines and appreciating more that the value of the patient voice lies in patients’ lived experience. Ultimately, we are learning that what matters to patients is more specific to improve their health outcomes, and sometimes different, than the priorities that were initially planned by their health-care team. 

The rapidly evolving biotechnology and science industries strive to tackle many of the world’s most prevalent health issues, including the opioid crisis. By more closely linking a biotechnology or science business’s purpose on patient centricity, an organization can implement value-driven solutions that hold more lasting and effective promise because they are achieved in alignment with the interests of necessary stakeholders. 

Future of Health is in Patient-Centric Organizations 

Patient-centric organizations can achieve much greater success than their less goal-oriented counterparts. Here, that translates to patient-centricity and purpose. And for a good reason. Cultivating an organization that focuses on patient centricity and purpose means putting the patient as the core emphasis. Organizations need to advance their understanding of patient unmet needs and requirements. 

In today’s world, business success is becoming more and more dependent on the constancy of stakeholders. Being patient-centric is also vitally important for improving outcomes and demonstrating value of an organization to society. This ensures that patient insights will define product value from a patient vantage point, which could be anything from symptom management to a breakthrough innovation. 

A patient-centric organization derives value in many pathways. First, a patient-centric organization will benefit from a more dedicated workforce that is purpose-driven and that is focused on patients. According to a recent study published in the Harvard Business Review, it was found that employees who felt a central focus present in their everyday job functions were three times more likely to remain with their organization. The same study reported that employees with a clearly defined job focus displayed two times greater job satisfaction than those without. 

Second, in a Forbes article written by best-selling author Simon Mainwaring, the importance of forming a positive consumer relationship is evident. According to Mainwaring, 91 percent of consumers report that they would choose a purpose-driven brand over a competitor operating under a less goal-oriented business model even if they offered a similar product at comparable prices. 

Third, biopharmaceutical companies are determining their path forward by integrating clinical development pathways focused on patient-centricity early in development. This provides input on issues related to safety and measures related to efficacy, all powered by increasingly sophisticated data analytics. There needs to be a growing conversation and momentum to find ways to increase patient centricity from the beginning of trial design through drug discovery, which can have the potential to have a meaningful impact on health outcomes for patients.

In a ScienceDirect paper, ”Increasing Patient Involvement in Drug Development,” researchers determined that to ensure the creation of treatments that maximize value at the lowest cost, all aspects of the health-care system need to align with patient needs and preferences. The objective of the study was to gain a better understanding of where we stand with patient involvement in drug development, and the conclusion was that as an industry, we need to be more innovative in demonstrating the value of medicines relative to the patient experience. 

Assessing patient-centric impact using innovative measures, ventures, and initiatives can empower an organization. With this greater insight on value, we will be able to do what matters in both the short term and the long term for an organization. 

Ultimately, we will be able to say which companies are simply doing well by doing good. Accordingly, it is those organizations that are connected with patient-centricity that are likely to be best positioned to drive innovation forward for better outcomes for quality in solving our most significant public health challenges of the future. 

Published October 22, 2019