The evolution of the health consumer has transformed traditionally passive patient expectations when it comes to healthcare, we now actively seek out information, want to be more involved in decision-making1 and demand greater control over our wellbeing.

Healthcare providers must transform how they deliver care to better meet the increasingly complex needs of today’s patients, through better patient engagement, providing more joined-up care and focusing on holistic wellbeing as part of the patient journey.

As a pivotal player in the healthcare ecosystem, we believe the biopharma and life science industry has a fundamental role in building partnerships with providers to prevent disease and develop innovative treatments, diagnostics and devices, which will improve overall outcomes for patients.

A thorough understanding of patients’ needs is critical to achieve this goal, with the patient voice a powerful driver for change. The benefits of integrating real-time patient voices across the biopharmaceutical value chain is increasingly recognised by all parties; biopharmaceutical organisations in their patient-centric visions, prospective and current patients using their products, healthcare payers and regulators. However, biopharma organisations have historically struggled to embed the spirit of their visions in genuine everyday patient centricity.

"...the patient voice [is] a powerful driver for change."

A deeper understanding of the patient perspective in real-time enables a greater understanding of patient need and generates empathy for their lived experience and survivorship. This allows organisations to pivot their approach to enable the development and delivery of more personalised care. It helps individuals and teams become better, more effective patient communicators, build trust and achieve better health outcomes, including patient satisfaction and treatment adherence.2

In order to bring this more to life we have identified six key considerations for effectively embedding patient centricity in the everyday life of biopharma organisations:

1. Define patient centricity

A major barrier to achieving true patient centricity is the phrase itself; it will mean something different to every organisation. The first step is to set a clear vision statement unique to your organisation’s ambitions, which defines what patient centricity looks like for you. These statements should always:

  • have patients at their core
  • aim to drive tangible change
  • be reviewed periodically to ensure they continue to reflect organisational ambitions based on real-world insights.

"...set a clear vision statement unique to your organisation’s ambitions, which defines what patient centricity looks like for you."

This ‘starter for 10’ was exactly what one leading biopharma company needed to spark a chain of activity, with our support, to move patient centricity from the page to the everyday.

2. Engage your partner ecosystem

Patient centricity is nothing without partnerships, and the right ones. Once your vision is set, start building your partner ecosystem. Engage early with patients, caregivers, advocacy groups and other key stakeholders, including professional bodies, regulators and even technology companies to give direction to your strategies and pipeline. This will drive innovation, education and awareness from the very start of product development.

Invest time in nurturing connections to establish and maintain meaningful relationships. This is particularly crucial for achieving full and diverse patient representation across the entire product lifecycle. It lays a foundation of trust, especially within populations that have historically been sidelined, such as women, disabled people, those from the LGBTQ+ community and people of Black, Asian and minority ethnic heritage. It can be done remotely and face-to-face to ensure those at risk of digital exclusion are also included.

At the same time, find ways to partner with patient organisations and others - including other biopharma companies - to advocate for patients. Support policies that strive to achieve better outcomes and improve patient access to diagnostics, therapies and high-quality care.

"...find ways to partner with patient organisations and others—including other biopharma companies—to advocate for patients."

3. Use the patient voice to change how people think

Patient centricity is about listening to patients and their advocates and learning from their experiences. Use these insights to ignite a common purpose among cross-org teams and inform individuals’ day-to-day work to ensure patients’ needs are addressed and barriers to participation, particularly in clinical trials, are tackled at the earliest stage.

Explore new technologies to access a wider patient population. Identify internal experts, particularly those who are patients themselves or who care for loved ones, to act as a patient-focused think tank to boost patient engagement capabilities and implement new ways of working across the organisation.

Patient centricity has the potential to inspire and motivate all staff, resulting in a win for you and a win for patients. Greater awareness of the patient mindset will support biopharma employees across all functions to understand patients’ needs and provide motivation to make their work more effective.

"Greater awareness of the patient mindset will support biopharma employees across all functions to understand patients’ needs..."

For one of our clients, the medical research charity LifeArc, this process was pivotal in transforming its internal culture for a more successful future.

4. Foster a growth mindset for greater innovation

Innovation is key to tackling unmet patient need but, too often, it can be stifled by perceived barriers, such as regulatory processes or legal requirements, and conventional, risk-averse thinking that creates a ‘can’t do’ attitude.

To take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the new healthcare landscape, a growth mindset that rethinks challenges as opportunities is vital. Innovating and looking to find new ways to understand the customer, listen to their voice, is ever more critical.

"Innovating and looking to find new ways to understand the customer, listen to their voice, is ever more critical."

Regulators, for example, are increasingly recognising the value of patient engagement within drug development. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has updated its guidance requiring patients’ involvement in clinical trial design3 and the US’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is publishing guidance to support the integration of the patient voice within drug development.4

Consider how staff can be supported in this endeavour, through personal development plans and a workplace culture where employees are curious to ask questions, suggest and try out new ideas or ways of working, fail fast and learn from mistakes. Push the boundaries of skills development to help people and teams grow and flourish to the benefit of the people, the organisation and patients healthcare.

5. Focus on diverse and inclusive disease education

Tailoring information and educational materials to the needs of patients will help them understand the role of biopharma in protecting the health of the global population, which in turn will drive loyalty and trust.

When developing such content, always consider the cultural, language and communication needs of diverse patient populations to ensure materials are as inclusive and accessible as possible. Use real-time insights to develop tailored messaging for specific audiences and deliver those in a format that works best for them. Investigate multi-channel options for content delivery to ensure, wherever possible, that the right consumers receive the right messages at the right time.

"...always consider the cultural, language and communication needs of diverse patient populations to ensure materials are as inclusive and accessible as possible."

Increase your capacity to develop and regularly share educational materials and training, and increase patient involvement across the product lifecycle. Educate patients and healthcare professionals to support the richness of their conversations, and broaden the scope of education to empower patients to think holistically about their health and wellbeing, including the use of apps and tech for health monitoring purposes.

Meanwhile, leverage your partnerships with patients, HCPs, healthcare charities, those working in the health tech space and others to share your patient-centric insights to develop effective research studies and healthcare technology and guidance, and disseminate educational materials supported by valuable data and insights.

6. Disrupt the current model to generate real-time patient insights

Ultimately the goal of patient engagement is to generate real-world insights into the patient perspective and those who support them.

The most valuable insights are captured in real-time, so explore how this can be achieved through your partnerships, digital technology and even machine learning. Use this knowledge to focus on what really matters to them from the earliest stages of product, campaign or strategy development and take action accordingly.

"...don’t allow valuable data to fall into the ether."

Finally, don’t allow this valuable data to fall into the ether. An easily accessible centralised repository to securely store these insights in real-time is crucial. Ensure systems and policies are in place to allow easy access.

How Baringa can help you realise your patient-centric ambitions

There are exciting opportunities to transform healthcare into a more person-centred model, which focuses on a joined-up, holistic approach that considers the mental and physical wellbeing of individuals and delivers a more consumer experience rather than a patient treatment model.

For biopharma, this shift will involve new ways of working, which may require internal transformation to achieve. With our extensive experience working across functions including R&D, Medical Affairs and Commercial, we can help you:

  • define what patient centricity means to your organisation
  • build engagement, enthusiasm and commitment for patient centricity across all functions
  • embed these new ways of working into your organisational culture and operating models
  • create shared value for tangible change
  • discover the best way to capture valuable real-time insights utilising the right technology and data.

Let us know how we can help you embrace the future of holistic healthcare through patient-centric practice.

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  1. Personalised Care Institute. New data shows patients want more involvement in healthcare decisions, 2022 (last accessed December 2022)
  2. Moudatsou M, Stavropoulou A, Philalithis A, Koukouli S. The Role of Empathy in Health and Social Care Professionals. Healthcare (Basel). 2020;8(1):26. Published 2020 Jan 30. doi:10.3390/healthcare8010026
  3. European Medicines Agency (EMA). ICH guideline E8 (R1) on general considerations for clinical studies, 14 October 2021 (last accessed February 2023)
  4. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA Patient-Focused Drug Development Guidance Series for Enhancing the Incorporation of the Patient’s Voice in Medical Product Development and Regulatory Decision Making (last accessed February 2023)

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