Building a Holistic Patient-Centric Culture in Your Organization

July 2019 | By Mindy Jimison

Having a laser focus on patient needs is table stakes in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector. Organizations must continually measure and improve their processes for keeping a patient and their community of family and friends informed regarding the patient’s well being. Equally important is giving the patient a voice in their care, including choices about medical options and sharing in decision-making about recovery. 

We at ALULA were recently speaking about patient centricity with a Senior Executive of Patient Advocacy at a major biotechnology company. Here is what we learned.

What does patient centricity mean to your organization?

Building a holistic patient-centric culture in pharmaPatient centricity is rooted in a company’s values, and all employees should have a clear understanding as to what the patient journey means in their role. Everyone should have exposure to the journey of patients and their families.  

Every patient community has its own personality and needs. We owe it to those communities to dial into their needs. We need to be flexible to offer what’s appropriate and needed. It shouldn’t be a check-the-box activity with patients coming into the business once a month to share their story. It must be more than that, or it quickly loses value to the patient.

Let me give you an example of how we put patient insights into action. We reimburse people for all clinical trial expenses, but we discovered through feedback that it was difficult for patients to get reimbursed because not all people are in a position to outlay the expenses up front. 

As a result, we started to have patients book travel through our travel vendor. In another example, we found that finding transportation from the airport to a clinical trial location was a challenge, so we started giving patients Uber gift cards so they could call their own Uber.  

When I think about practicing patient centricity, it’s really quite simple: You need to talk to people in the way you would want to be talked to and treat people how you want to be treated.  

What do organizations struggle with the most when it comes to being patient centric?

We all struggle with accountability. It’s really about holding people accountable and measuring to that. Although it’s hard to measure, this is something that is really important. We don’t always know what looks good, but we do know what looks bad.

Who is going to be the disruptor in this space?

Advocacy groups are picking up steam when it comes to giving feedback and funding programs. With social media, critical information can quickly get around, so companies are operating in different ways. Everything is more open. Patient communities are reclaiming a lot of the work patient advocacy groups used to do. Groups are more willing to participate in each active phase. Everyone has a voice in the process.

How do you work to improve patient-centric thinking in the organization?

I go back to the big question, “What is patient centricity?” There is never a good answer. It depends on the company and where the people are. The best way to create a patient-centric culture is to reinforce it without prescribing what it is. It is critical to listen to stakeholders and incorporate their feedback. Talk to both advocacy groups and patient advisory boards. If you can, try to also connect with unengaged patients who are not talking with advocacy groups.

Any final thoughts?

It’s amazing how much has changed for the better in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. We are doing so much more because there is a lot of collaboration. We don’t get it right all of the time, but no one does. People feeling engaged around a mission and having exposure to the needs and outcomes of patients increases the retention of good people in a more satisfying way. People across every role in the organization care what happens to the patient.


This discussion confirmed that a holistic patient-centric culture has to be a company-wide focus. Every employee needs to know how their work contributes to a patient-centric culture and what patient centricity even means. 

That definition may vary from one organization to the next, depending on how internal and external stakeholders define it in a given context. Employees need to be held accountable for demonstrating patient-centric communication and decision-making. 

On the flip side, organizations need to find ways to make patient needs and outcomes more visible to employees, to further enhance the connection between what employees do and the impact of their actions on patients. 

Ultimately, a patient-centric culture is one that drives collaboration across the board, all the while aiming for the same patient-focused outcomes and impact.

Ready to learn more about building a patient-centric culture in your organization? Click below to schedule your free 30-minute consultation with the experts at ALULA.

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Topics: Pharmaceutical Sales

Mindy Jimison

Written by Mindy Jimison