Building castles on shifting sands: growth-ready practices in the Pharma industry

Being customer-centred has become the mantra of any business leader in recent times. It’s the holy grail, the seemingly elusive key to business success and industry leadership. Everybody wants it, but some find it easier than others to achieve in practice.

If you’re the CEO of a pharmaceutical company in 2016, you are fully entrenched in a relentless battle for the hearts and minds of patients and stakeholders that is likely to get fiercer every year. Not only do you have a large number of ‘customers’ (patients, HCPs, payers, patient groups, nurses, healthcare administrators to name a few), but you also have a treatment landscape that is about to experience dramatic change. The impact of personalized medicine, big data, healthcare tech and harsher-than-ever pricing scrutiny, is setting in motion an industry shake-up that will leave blockbuster drugs as relevant to patient treatment pathways as their TV set is to their media consumption – important and loved but increasingly usurped by alternatives that seem to fit in much better with their lifestyles.

Growth-ready practices in the pharma industry

In the thick of this new battle for patients and stakeholders, pharma companies must tackle old problems in entirely new ways. Brand Learning’s recent Growth Drivers Study identifies 7 ‘hallmarks’ of growth-driving organizations – the 7Cs. Customer-centricity is the central hallmark of growth driving behaviour, but is supported and accelerated by the other 7Cs, including collaboration, courage and curiosity.

One of AstraZeneca’s core values is to ‘put the patient first’. They are supporting this mantra with a dedicated Patient Centricity team that will work to ensure all patient experiences and outcomes are outstanding. They aim to connect with patients both in drug development and execution. Critically, AstraZeneca consider the entire patient journey, working with all of the touchpoints and influencers at their disposal. Collaboration is part of their everyday business. They partner with others to access the best science and accelerate the development of new medicines and connect with patients, healthcare professionals and regulators to ensure patient needs are considered at every step of their strategy. In fact, their patient centricity mission statement was actually developed in collaboration with patients.

Sanofi has also put patient-centricity at the heart of the way it works, with a very public commitment to hearing patient voices, and to providing services that empower patients. Its’ Mission T1D app is designed for kids with diabetes, and aims to help them, their parents and teachers to better understand their disease, reducing the need for treatment by helping patients to manage the condition independently. This is not only patient-centric, but is courageous – it disrupts Sanofi’s own business model by aiming to reduce patient reliance on Sanofi’s insulin products.

Also in the diabetes area, Novartis has taken a collaborative approach. Through their partnership with Google, diabetes patients can now monitor glucose levels through their contact lenses. Healthcare tech companies will disrupt patient care many times over the next decade; Novartis is choosing to get ahead of the game by collaborating, by committing energy to a new course, and by acting with conscious speed, willing to fail, learn and try again.

What next for pharma companies?

So how can pharma companies, in their heavily regulated environment, with huge organisations and multiple external stakeholders, get themselves ready for growth? They will need to completely rethink their capabilities to enable them to build sustainable new revenue streams in a world that keeps evolving, like building castles on sand that keeps shifting. The Brand Learning Growth Drivers Study is a good place to start. At Brand Learning we work with a number of pharma clients to deliver a joined-up patient-centred purpose, building the capability to understand the shifting sands and to put in place the right foundations for lasting growth. Please get in touch to discuss how Brand Learning can help you lift your own organisation’s growth-ready capabilities.


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