Thanks to Seth Painter, Tom Hanley and Doug Lavender I spent the last two days at an incredible pharma industry conference focused on CX, the customer experience. The PanAgora team – – team brought together speakers from several different industries to transfer knowledge to pharma.

We heard from customer experience experts from Citibank (Steve Gates) and BMW (Jaqueline Jaisonowski) who both work in industries that have done the hard work of putting the end-user first. This is the lesson that pharma has yet to learn.

We heard from GSK and BMS and their efforts to put the patient first. BMS has made public their process called the Universal Patient Language ( BMS is using this process to ensure what they do across both the commercial and R&D areas is patient centered. It is interesting that BMS has realized that changing the language can help to change the culture. The speaker, Elizabeth Turcotte, Director of the Patient Hub, emphasized that this has not been an easy process but it is one to which BMS is committed. Turcotte says that BMS is so committed to this perspective that they want to make this approach an industry standard and want partners in this process. Contact if you are interested in supporting this effort and learning more.

Several organizations that support the pharma industry shared their perspectives ;

  • Lynn O’Connor Vos took us through generational differences in managing healthcare. We need to prepare for more engaged patients who want to be partners in managing their own care.
  • Mike DiCaprio and Nicole Hamlin from Butler/Till discussed their patient journey model – reminding us that the journey is circuitous, not linear.
  • Zoe Dunn, Hale Advisors, says instead of using an existing ad in all channels does not make your effort multi-channeled. You need to adapt your message to the channel. Also, pharma needs to finally engage in social media, this is a missed opportunity.
  • Laura Krabbe, Lead Experience Architect at Effective, discussed experience design based on emotion. She says that we can utilize emotional design and put patients and caregivers first by: eliciting feedback often, 2) understanding the emotional experience, and 30focus on solving problems.

There were a few panels focused on single subjects:

  • Emerging Technology for Healthcare marketers
    • Eric Steager, Corporate Innovation. Independence Blue Cross – Eric is the internal venture capitalist for his company. He is actively looking for technology start-ups to support Blue Cross members.
    • Kristina Lynn, most recently Digital lead for Purdue Pharma, talked about how to use technology to better engage with patients
    • Qusai Mahersi, Expedient Solutions discussed how his company makes digital a seamless process for many different industries including pharma
  • Patient Engagement – Keys to Connecting with Patients
    • Louis Zollo, Director, Global Portfolio Development, Teva, let us know that Teva is committed to patients. His experience on the payer side of the business helps him see the challenge with performance=based contracting is in setting up the measures – identify the measures before deciding to do the contract.
    • Cheryl Roche Alexander has recently completed research on effective approaches to patient engagement.
    • Mike Edwards, Senior Director, Patient Marketing, LEO Pharma discussed his necessity to continue to champion for the value of patient-focused efforts, connecting the efforts to the immediate return from the company’s hub.
  • Design Thinking for Improving and Innovating Customer Experiences
    • Corey Swope, Sr, Senior Director, Insights & Experience, Johnson and Johnson – Cordy just plainly said traditional market research is obsolete! It is so much more effective to observe people going about their lives, see them in action.
    • Joyce Ercolino, most recently Digital Lead, CSL Bering – The brand teams should focus on quality of content – use less!
    • Francis Beaudet, Interaction Designer, Macadamian – Agrees with Swope, infuse the patient experience throughout the organization, build services around the medications.

During the course of the meeting there was a healthy discussion about just how far can we really go to be customer focused in pharma. Many thought regulatory is a barrier while many of us agreed that this is simply not true. My own experience has been that regulatory can be a good and creative partner supporting patient focused efforts. We delude ourselves into using regulatory as an excuse.

I was very pleased to be introduced to Nuvera – – a life sciences consulting group that supports patient services. Certainly they do a lot of the same work as Inspired Health Strategies but that they exists proves the IHS perception of need in the marketplace. Never also underscores the IHS belief that the language we need to speak is around the hub, enhancing the hub. The decision makers “get” the hub speak as it ties directly to sales. Maybe this is the concept that can, ultimately, serve the patient best.