Part 2: Cegedim Life Sciences Forum 2012 – How to Actually Become More Patient Centric

The Cegedim Life Sciences Forum 2012 (LSF 2012) took place in Philadelphia, September 13 & 14, 2012. In this world of lightening speed information availability, even at a month old, the Cegedim LSF  2012 is still providing nuggets of info that are long-lasting.

At the Forum, Todd Francis, VP, US Commercial Support & Enterprise Marketing at Sanofi provided insights into how to commercialize this patient-centered/user centered model. We are all talking about becoming more patent-centered but, outside of being altruistic, what does this really mean to the business? As my team and I conduct training sessions about “Becoming More Patient Centric” we see first-hand, the struggle pharma is having to balance the needs of patient and brand. This is the struggle Todd faced and what follows is how he helped Sanofi connect to the needs of the end-user.

Todd has spent most of his career tied more directly to the patient while being field-based. We all know that even while it is easier to tie field sales to the customer, we still have work to do to get to the end-user. But, if you are at HQ and never even see or hear a provider then how can you possibly link your role back to the end-user? At Sanofi, they have sorted through this within Todd’s team. They put in place a few tools to help each person understand their role in serving patients, no matter how remote they may be from the patient.


First, let’s level set. There are massive changes going on in the industry. As we continue to live in silos let’s be sure everyone understands the scope and impact of these changes:

  • Healthcare reform – Impact of access to medicines, pressure on rebates, use of comparative effectiveness
  • Economy – drives ability to afford health insurance
  • Technology  – New IT tools (i.e. , social media) changing how we work
  • Consolidation of providers – emergence of integrated delivery networks and Accountable Care Organizations
  • Demographics – Aging population and lifestyle driving increase in chronic illness
  • Concerns about risk and safety outcomes – emergence of risk-avoidance, more regulatory hurdles
  • Consumers – change in patient behaviors towards consumerism
  • Growing payer influence – Employers and governments turning to payers to control rising costs

Traditionally, pharma has been internally focused on the needs of the brand, highlight the brand, etc. To manage the future we need to become more externally focused – what are the needs of our customers? How can we deliver solutions to our customers within the capabilities we possess through managing the brand? Customer insights become increasingly important to understand.



The industry has tried to address the needs of the customer, the needs of the patient through customer relationship marketing (CRM) but this effort has been largely an inside-out effort. In other words, from the point of view of folks internal to the company, meeting the internal needs. Todd cites a Forrester Research report from 2011 about the evolution of CRM

“The evolution of CRM is moving past managing customer relationships to focusing on managing customer experiences. Think about your CRM solution is it more inside out – we need more of an external view – outside in. 

In the new world we need to take an approach from more of an external view – customer experience value linked to business benefits.

 If you are on the left side of the screen you are at risk of being irrelevant in the new world of health care.”


So, how do you get those within your organization who never see a customer understand the role they have and how they impact the customer. Well, Todd’s solution comes from what we already have in our toolbox – the patient journey. Todd  and his team looked at a patient journey, pulled it apart for functions within Sanofi and correlated stages of the journey with each function. Brilliant! This helped those in even in areas perceived most remote from the patient to understand that, yes, they do have a role in enhancing the patient experience. Brilliant! In a recent training course we were asked exactly this – if I don’t see a customer or touch a patient how am I relevant to the patient – here is the answer!


So, we have gotten to the point of understanding the value of balancing the needs of patient and brand. We understand we need to be more externally focused. We know the impact we each have in enhancing the patient experience. But, we are still in our silos – marketing, sales, operations, etc. How do we tie this all together to continue to enhance the patient experience. Simple – we need to communicate with each other. We need to share our learnings, our data, everything.

“At the end of the day we have to understand the customer and the customer insights. Have to understand the customer, this is mass customization at the finest

Delivery based on the customer needs.

Could be personal or non-personal. I appreciate the non-personal explosion but at Sanofi we are addressing non-personal  promotion is as important as ever, even with fewer sales reps in the field, access is a challenge. But how we deliver a message can help us bring value.

 We utilized Cegedim’s MI system to connect this info internally, help us deliver engaged content consistent with our strategy. Better able to integrate customers into our system like never before.”

Yes, Cegedim sponsored this meeting so Sanofi is a customer that has had success with their systems. But the bottom-line is integrating the data across the silos so you can better deliver value to the customer. Data held inside of a silo serves no one, not even the one holding on to the data.


So, what about results? Sanofi has done a lot of work, and continues in that work, to become more patient centered. Other companies are gradually trying the same. But everyone looks at these companies and points out no change in sales or other measures. Clearly this approach HAS worked for Sanofi. These are the results from the two largest therapeutic franchises in the company:

  • The Diabetes franchise is up by 18.5%  2012 over 2011
  • Oncology revenue is up by 23.1% 2012 over 2011
There are other, less direct sales results which all point to the ability to serve patients like never before. This thing about measurement – ROI, sales, etc as the only milestones will be tackled in another posting. We have GOT to start thinking beyond ROI!

“We have done real well with this customer focused approach

We can quickly address customer needs and react in a way that meets their needs and we are serving patients like never before.”

In summary, Todd asked us to think about a few things.
Who are we serving – the internal or external customer? Which drives decision-making and priority setting?
Are we evolving from managing the customer relationship to managing the customer’s experience with our company?
If I am doing these things how am I working differently?
We have all been through a challenging past few years. In spite of the past years’ challenges I, for one, fully agree with Todd when he says:
“I am bullish on the possibilities of this industry. The challenge is how we can adapt and how quickly we can adapt  so we can improve outcomes.”
‘Nuff said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.