Patient Centricity Clarified

What does this buzzword really mean?

CROSs are seeking substance in the often-used buzzword, patient centricity. While the concept constantly crops up in articles and presentations, new technology is developed to enhance it and patient advocacy is cited as being critical, there are few in-depth analyses of what it really means.

Lack of information and the unwillingness of the industry to make changes can make it difficult to achieve patient centricity. Some interpretation is necessary.

Natania Barron, director of global marketing at BioPharma Dive, explained, “At a first glance it seems relatively straightforward, right? After all, patients are literally where clinical trials happen. We ought to consider them in the work we do. That should go without saying.”

Barron broke it down in an article. She said that the biopharmaceutical industry “has avoided the voice of the patient for years,” but it is now “scrambling to look good for sponsors, investors, and ultimately, patients.” While the concept has been diminished recently, it is critical.

As she explained, “Real patient centricity is difficult but essential. And companies hoping to get by on the least effort are going to be in for a big surprise in the next few years if they don’t learn to adapt.”

According to Barron, patient centricity is a way of putting the end user first, rather than spouting the messages or aims of the company, organization or brand. The “customer journey” may not exactly mesh with what the company or organization had in mind.

In terms of clinical trials, patient centricity would mean that the “planning, protocol, goals, and means, should all consider the patient first.” In practice, it is not happening. While patient centricity would involve designing clinical trials with endpoints and objectives in the interest of the patient community, the patient is far removed from the actual clinical trial endpoints and objectives. Barron wonders how to get patients more involved in the process.

While patient centricity appears to go along with the information age – data can be collected easily, social media searches can predict outbreaks and complex algorithms can unravel the prevalence of  diseases in patient populations – pharmaceutical companies have to do much more to make it a reality. According to Hensley Evans of Zs, getting pharmaceutical companies on board isn’t easy. “Pharmaceutical companies are anxious about having direct conversations with patients. There’s been so much concern about adverse event reporting, and compliance and regulatory issues,” Hensley says. It’s not just about listening to patients, it’s about being willing to make changes and adapt on their behalf. And clinical trials are notoriously bad at adapting.”


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