News

Freshen Up Your Thinking

BY Thomas Disley
April 28th, 2016

Freshen Up Your Thinking

Customer Innovator Award finalists at the eyeforpharma Awards, North America 2016 share their recipe for ‘the next big thing’ Inspiration can come from unpredictable places. While for some of us, brainstorming sessions inevitably become a mind prison, the best always seem to have another trick up their sleeve when they get stuck. Luckily, we’ve got the Customer Innovator Award finalists to ask how they do it. Use these tactics when you need to break out of that box:

Design for the future, not the past.

Drug launches often come with a template set of patient support services: educational resources, drug information, and patient assistance. With timelines short and pressure high pre-launch, it is much easier to start with what has been done before rather than try something new.

While working on the launch strategy for DARZALEX™, Jennifer Thomas, the Product Director of Oncology Marketing at Janssen, fought to break out of this pattern. Prior to Janssen’s breakthrough monoclonal antibody, there were no preceding effective treatments; patients and their families had been managing huge physical and emotional challenges as a result.

Recognizing the need to provide psychosocial and clinical support, her team consulted published behavorial research on multiple myeloma and oncology. After finding evidence that techniques like mindfulness and motivational interviewing could improve patient outcomes, Thomas realized that the implementation team needed a whole new role.

Thomas drew upon research to design a company-first ‘Nurse Educator’ function to improve patient skills in coping, communication and thinking positively.

Post-launch this new resource has been extremely well received. The Nurse Educators are now out working directly with oncology practices and infusion nurses to build capacity on supportive psychosocial services, laying the foundation for sustained change.

Sometimes you just need to make things feel more exciting

We, in the industry, get easily carried away with new service models, however from the patient’s perspective these engagements can seem, well, a little boring.

Of the many challenges facing clinical trial recruitment, one of the biggest is simply to make the process feel less onerous for the patient.  Pfizer partnered with ICON Firecrest and Carnegie Mellon to solve this problem, with their project eConsent.

Patient-centered research confirmed that a major factor stopping patients from completing informed consent forms was the tedium of the procedure. To address this, the team brought academics from engineering, public policy and behavioral science to design more concise methods to communicate complicated information.

They created a sleeker animated video and assessed its effectiveness in randomized trials where participants scored aesthetic appeal and information content. Unsurprisingly, given the mind-numbing complexity of the paper-based predecessor, it outperformed on both counts.

If you’re still stuck for inspiration: use Open-Innovation to ask stakeholders for help

A growing movement of pharma thought-leaders are now adopting open-innovation tactics to find new ideas hidden deep within the stakeholder eco-system. It can be a great strategy to break away from pervasive groupthink; involving the perspective of those who see your company as just one part of a bigger picture can uncover totally fresh ideas.

Marianne Fraiture, the Head of New Solutions Development at UCB deployed this strategy to great effect in the search for new solutions that addressed patient’s challenges beyond the drug. Fraiture’s team ran two Hackathons, in Atlanta and Brussels, that redefined patients, family members, caregivers and digital experts as co-creators in the design process.

“There is nothing about complexity that prevents blue sky thinking. In my view, we sometimes hide behind this, we say this is a complex industry and we cannot do that. But there is actually a big space that we can occupy and work within.”

Marianne Fraiture, Head of New Solutions Development, UCB

Participants broke into 17 teams to brainstorm service ideas for patient communication, patient education, healthcare access, as well as the day to day challenges of living with the condition. Post-event, UCB managed to inspire four teams to keep prototyping their ideas, supporting them with personalized coaching.