The Astellas Way Blog

The Patient-Centered Era is the Critical Next Step in Biopharmaceutical Evolution

By Doug Noland, Executive Director, Patient Experience

Aug 17, 2018

Biopharmaceutical science has the capability to drive change in our society and write a new storyline for public health. However, science, acting in a vacuum, cannot and will not achieve this change. For this transformation to occur, we must continue to engage the patient throughout the development and dissemination of these life-changing advances.

I had the opportunity to discuss this topic recently at the annual eyeforpharma event in Philadelphia, which focused on the notion of patient-centricity and how critical it is to the biopharmaceutical industry and healthcare generally.

I believe that we are in the third era of an extended period of industry evolution. The first was the era of research… better understanding the biological underpinnings of disease. This led to the era of discovery, defined by new treatments and therapies that turn fatal diseases into manageable chronic illnesses. It is essential that the third era is the era of the patient. We must bring the power of innovation to more closely link the patient to scientific advances.

Many in the industry are admirably embracing this challenge. Our Astellas Way principle of Patient Focus – which is defined as engaging with empathy, delivering innovative therapies, and improving patient experiences and outcomes – serves as a strong guide in our efforts to make a difference for patients.

But I am suggesting that our industry needs to double down on this patient-centered approach in three different ways: (1) creating a patient-first marketplace, (2) vastly simplifying information flow, and (3) driving greater collaboration among health industry sectors with the aim of making the patient an essential partner.

On the first priority, we need to continue the movement away from transactional medicine in favor of a value-centered approach that emphasizes the holistic value of the health care system. But we’ve only scratched the surface of the progress that must be made. Whether we’re talking about formulary committees, corporate boardrooms, policy debates, or regulatory decision-making, the patient experience should be the first consideration. Cost, value and market incentive questions should focus, first and foremost, on whether patient outcomes will be improved.

In connecting scientific successes to the individual patient, addressing flaws in our information flow is essential. We like to talk about how we live in the information era with every byte of vital data available at our fingertips, but research has shown that in some instances online health-related information is underutilized. Stakeholders throughout the system need to take a step back and reevaluate how to more effectively educate and engage the health care consumer.

At Astellas, we’ve made notable steps in the right direction by assessing, identifying gaps and improving our patient and caregiver services with an eye toward ensuring an empathetic, consistent and seamless experience. We’ve focused on enhancing the literacy levels of our materials and improving our patient-focused clinical trial website.

On the issue of collaboration, quite frankly there isn’t enough of it. In a value-focused health care ecosystem that seeks to improve patient outcomes, contain costs and involve the patient, it becomes impossible for payers, providers and manufacturers to remain in silos. We must all work together to achieve cohesion in how each respective entity engages the patient.

Patient-centered action in each of these areas is not only achievable, but imperative. In the years ahead, we are likely to witness great achievements in medical science, bringing new therapies for diseases that have claimed millions of lives over generations.

Science for its own sake, however, must never be our objective. Putting the patient at the center of the progress must be more than a platitude. For industry leaders and public policymakers, it must be the engine driving every meaningful decision across our healthcare system.