A Life Science CEO’s Guide to Success

With trends in healthcare pointing towards an increased emphasis on the patient experience, life science executives are eyeing the benefits and opportunities of embracing patient-centric approaches. Many business leaders are now wondering how, outside of focus groups and surveys, their companies can engage with patients, and what that engagement can do for both the company and the patient. Historically, customer input has been at the center of product innovation. Healthcare is no different. So, with so much at stake, we looked to 8th Annual Life Science CEO Forum presenter, Orexigen Therapeutics President and CEO, and PhRMA board member, Michael Narachi. Here are Q1’s takeaways:

Empower the Patient

We all know that knowledge equals power, but how much knowledge are patients really getting about their care options? Most patients don’t get the information they need from pharmaceutical companies to have this power. It’s not because they’re being misdiagnosed or denied these treatments, but, rather, that they just aren’t wholly aware of their options; “The end goal of every product is that they actually make it to the patient, which is rare. Patients don’t get the therapy because they’re not aware of the drug,” Narachi said. So how can the patient perspective empower treatment choices? Simple: incorporate what’s most important. After the clinical phase, many pharmaceutical companies will begin promoting the drug’s performance, but patients themselves are more focused on how they will perform with the drug. Narachi explained, “Patients may mostly care that they can go to work or play a game with their kids.” And engaging this information in product launch can inform a patient of those abilities, enabling them to ask the right questions for themselves.

Grow with the Patient

Those right conversations could help your brand, too. When asked if incorporating the patient perspective into product commercialization could spur business growth, Narachi answered, “Absolutely.” Because many drugs do not make it to the appropriate patient, they tend to be low-performing (unless there is no generic alternative). In Narachi’s words, “[Our] job isn’t done when the FDA approves us.” Incorporating the right, patient ability-focused, post-clinical perspective into product marketing gets the right drug to the right patient, increasing quality of care and brand awareness along the way. In a generic-heavy market, pharmaceutical companies cannot afford to ignore patient-centric growth potential.

Trust the Patient

Pharmaceuticals are similar to other consumer products. They’re chosen based off brand, manufacturer, market performance, and FDA approval. They also appeal to a patient’s trust. Providing thorough and correct information about a product is vital to this trust. Even more so, in 2017, as healthcare shifts further towards patient-centricity, patients are demanding (and receiving) more information about their care; who is providing, manufacturing, and supporting their treatment? “Trust is an important factor to realize –in all brands people buy,” Narachi commented, “but even more important is the information you’re giving to the patient. Patients should move beyond ‘brands,’ and be informing themselves as to the correct treatment for them. Battle the status quo when it comes to your healthcare, and consider the different treatment options and drug attributes that could give you the treatment you really need.” A patient knowing their options and not wholly relying on brand recognition and loyalty could mean the difference between a negative care experience and solving a problem correctly and quickly, which brought Narachi to his last point; the most important aspect of the patient perspective. Narachi explained, “Keep it in mind. The patient is the reason we exist, the reason we do everything we do. It’s critical to remember, even when dreaming of a drug, what problem would it be trying to solve and how would you inform patients about its solutions?” Without the patient perspective, pharmaceuticals may never evolve to be successful for patients, or for businesses.

Patient-centricity is the new norm. Today’s patients are more educated and more empowered about their treatment options.  From product innovation to company growth, inclusion of the patient perspective is quickly becoming an essential driver for life science companies. To hear more from Michael Narachi about the patient perspective in product launch and commercialization, register for the 8th Annual Life Science CEO Forum, March 23-24, in San Diego, CA.