Sep 29, 2022
I was at the PanAgora Pharma Customer Experience (CX) Summit earlier this summer. Let me tell you one of my big takeaways. Many at pharma companies who are trying to convince their organizations of the need to be provider- and/or patient-centric are having a tough go of it. Heard that coming from every direction. Seems there are quite a few pharma organizations out there who are not actually customer/patient-centric. Say it isn’t so. Turns out, they continue to be pretty darn brand-centric whether or not anyone besides the CX team and the most successful KAMs (key account managers) realize this hard truth.
This matters because, from a provider organization, physician, or patient standpoint, it’s not what’s written on the walls … it’s what goes on in the halls. It’s what a company actually does in their interactions with the rest of the healthcare ecosystem that matters and that builds their reputation.
You see this lack of customer centricity and, et cetera et cetera, there are certainly other things going on here; but you see the lack of customer centricity manifesting, right? You see the pharma reps that get kicked out of hospital systems because the perception is they add little if any value and “waste doctors’ time; all they do is shove detail aids in our faces.” Heard that recently. You see manufacturers in the news getting fined, very publicly, by the OIG (Office of Inspector General) or the DOJ (Department of Justice) for doing stuff that is not really patient-centric by a long shot.
For those of you working at pharma companies looking to do the right thing by patients, looking to be patient- or customer-centric for reals, a couple of reality checks here which you might be able to use to spark transformation at your organization. You saw, for the first time ever, legislation allowing Medicare to negotiate for drugs to pass into law, as well as the inflation rebate. Listen to the show last week with Mark Miller, PhD (EP380), for the “why did that happen right now” full story, but the short version is this: People, voters, patients, physicians, taxpayers, policy makers … all of them are questioning the value that Pharma brings for the money being spent. I am being blunt, I know; but so is this here referendum that just happened. If you’re trying to spark change and you need a story arc that has a carrot and a stick to inspire transformation at your organization, I’m just dropping this here for you.
In today’s environment, bottom line, being brand-centric instead of customer-centric diminishes trust. Look, this doesn’t just pertain to Pharma; this is a message for the whole industry. But there is certainly a way to do well by doing good, and how that starts is helping provider organizations and patients improve patient outcomes as the primary goal. Being innovative to that end.
It’s about supporting the best-practice standard of care and bringing resources to bear that are truly helpful. That is how more of the right patients can get the right treatment/drug at the right time or take their meds as per the A1A clinical guideline. It’s probably also the way to sustainable business success.
I’ve said it here a thousand times: People trying to do the right thing by patients all need to work together. If there’s a party in the mix that nobody else wants to deal with because they are deemed not a team player or they don’t listen … yeah, that’s what I call a competitive disadvantage, beyond just squandering their ability to achieve their mission statement and improve patient care and lives, that is.
Today’s conversation is with Karen Root, who was a speaker at the aforementioned PanAgora conference. In this healthcare podcast, we are talking about how to make transformation and innovation actionable at a large organization—maybe a pharma company but pretty much any large organization with lots of people, lots of human beings with different motivations and goals. As we all know, for every early adopter, there are (it feels like) five laggards who will fight you tooth and nail because they do not want to transform. They like being brand-centric, and it’s been working out fine … well, up until this year, at least.
Karen Root is currently director of experience strategy at Boehringer Ingelheim, which is a pharma company. For many years prior to her current role, she was an enterprise head of brand and culture at WL Gore & Associates. What we talk about in this show is how to break down the historical “brand is king” mentality so that people want to follow with the awareness, courage, and determination to do so. Everything that we talk about in this episode can also be applied to pretty much any organizational transformation or the rollout of any innovation or new capability.
Here’s the key things that Karen talks about which are essential for an organization to transform, maybe (again) in a way that is customer-centric and/or to roll out new innovations or capabilities:
One heads-up: In the conversation with Karen today, we talk a lot about the so-called J curve. As Karen says (and you can look this up), whenever you introduce a new anything into an organization, at some point, there’s gonna be a mess-up. And when something messes up, the whole team will spiral into a so-called “trough of disillusionment” or a “trough of despair,” sometimes it’s called. This is the rock-bottom hook of that J in the J curve. The thing is, if a leader’s vision isn’t sufficient or their will to continue isn’t sufficient, then the organization quits at this low point instead of working through it and coming out in a better place on the other side of the J.
And you know what happens then. From that point forward until eternity, everybody who brings up implementing an innovation or a transformation will definitely hear the lecture about the time we tried that and how it failed miserably. So, the J curve … Check it out. Don’t underestimate it.
One very last thing: If you are working for a large organization (like Fortune 500 large) and you have succeeded in moving a transformation forward (like being actually patient-centric or customer-centric, for example), hit me up. I would certainly love to hear your thoughts on how you did it and why you think you were successful and the impact that you had.