The market access landscape is constantly evolving with environmental developments, pricing and reimbursement challenges, regulatory changes, customer financial pressures, and innovations through new technology. At the heart of the pharmaceutical industry, remains the need to develop and communicate a medicine’s value proposition to all relevant stakeholders from macro to micro level in order to ensure that our true customer, the patient, receives the greatest benefit.

However, is there still more that can be done to understand the pharma/life sciences industries-patient dialogue and its role in market access, becoming truly patient centric?

A PM Society patient engagement survey1 in October 2017 found that 100% of the respondents felt that there was more that pharma could be doing to engage with patients, whilst 89% believed a patient-centric approach was extremely important. As a follow up, a recent PM Society report2 highlighted that there is also a real need to engage patients not only in commercial and patient support programs, but also in research and development, clinical trial design and market access communications.

Patient centricity refers to the process of developing improved healthcare outcomes through direct engagement with patients. Patient centricity should be focused on:

  • understanding the patient’s experience of their condition
  • the treatment journey that the patient has to take
  • their pathway of touchpoints with healthcare providers and healthcare professionals along the way
  • most importantly, what the individual patient’s values and needs are.

Historically the product-based pharmaceutical culture has not necessarily been aligned with the more agile and responsive patient centric culture. However, patient centricity has moved from a buzzword to a concept embedded in many organizations, resulting in them engaging differently with patient and carer groups and representatives. There are numerous ways the pharma/life sciences industries can hold dialogue with patient and carer groups and patients for mutual benefit.

Critical input

From an access perspective, patients are now more involved than ever, with patient groups and patient responses involved in health technology assessments, particularly in the rare disease sphere, whilst payers are increasingly accepting evidence in the form of patient-reported outcomes.

There is increasing recognition from regulatory bodies that patient input is critical to informing clinical decision-making processes and the management and treatment of patients to help, while also aiding in the evaluation of novel medical interventions.

Positive partnerships

Obviously when patient engagement is considered, it is vital to ensure compliance frameworks are adhered to. To overcome historic misconceptions around patient group engagement by the pharmaceutical industry, any related activities must have clear rules for engagement and mechanisms in place to ensure transparency. When executed well and with the intention of improving outcomes and value for patients, working in partnership with patients and patient organizations can ensure a positive result for all involved.