AbbVie’s creative awareness project reflects emotional struggles of patients

January 27, 2022
 AbbVie’s creative awareness project reflects emotional struggles of patients

A “Patient Immersion Experience” project conceptualised by the Asia chapter of pharma giant AbbVie Inc. (AbbVie) was held late last year across Asia, aimed at elevating the patient-centric approach through wearables that mimic the effects felt by patients with chronic and debilitating physical illnesses. The wearables were distributed in tool kits and included special “glaucoma glasses” and atopic dermatitis lesion stickers – it was hoped to help AbbVie Asia employees and the public to empathise more with patients who struggle with their day-to-day lives.

Peggy Wu, Vice President, Asia at AbbVie, talks about the project and its implications on the greater healthcare industry:

1. How patient centricity is increasingly being focused on in the healthcare industry

Patients are becoming more and more empowered with an increased attention to their health, in part thanks to digital technology advancements that provides easily accessible health information readily available for daily use. This has also helped patients better connect with each other by building communities, voicing their needs, and making their voices heard throughout their patient journey.

AbbVie’s creative awareness project reflects emotional struggles of patients

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted patients’ interactions with medical providers due to a reduction in hospital visits and overall, less frequent engagements with healthcare practitioners (HCPs). Given this situation, I think the pharmaceutical industry should focus even more on reconnecting patients with care and increased access and helping to fill the experience and treatment outcome gaps in the healthcare ecosystem.

Many have already begun the transition to more consumer-driven healthcare. According to research by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, most companies in the life sciences industry said that their commercial teams were furthest along in assessing their efforts around patient-centricity. Success in the pharmaceutical industry today is more about facilitating positive patient outcomes, instead of solely focusing on the efficacy of compounds and drug manufacturing. There needs to be a marriage of the two.

2. How AbbVie is shaping the narrative on patient focused care

As someone who personally saw the difficulties faced by patients after my mother experienced a difficult time with her depression, it was a breakthrough moment for me as I realised the importance of treatments to patients and their families. Through our research and development, strategic approaches, and patient outcomes, we are taking steps towards allowing more patients to get back to their normal lives.

From physical interactions to our packaging, AbbVie is striving for patient-centricity where a patient’s well-being requires care and guidance at every step along their journey. For example, we design packaging for treatments and medicines that are easy to open for people with dexterity issues; provide directions that are simple to follow; and have bottles or boxes that are also visually appealing, so patients won’t have to struggle with taking their medicines on top of living with a chronic or life-threatening diseases.

On a broader scale, AbbVie innovates therapies in 60 disease areas and has more than 75 programmes in mid- and late-stage development across targeted disease areas, where we focus on patient-centered questions and use the answers to infuse the patients voice into everything we do. Our Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR) teams generate high-impact and compelling evidence that we use to optimise patient access to medications, while our product innovation has helped 57 million people living in more than 175 countries.

Our most recent Patient Immersion Experience programme held in October across Asiawas also crafted to allow employees to better understand the physical and emotional struggles of patients with select debilitating physical illnesses. As part of the immersion experience, employees were given a tool kit containing wearable items to mimic the effects felt by patients with illnesses, such as glaucoma, rheumatoid arthritis, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis. Employees selected and experienced daily challenges and activities that patients face with the wearables, such as performing computer work, going out in public and even sleeping. The kits were part of 2021 Celebration of Culture program across AbbVie in Asia, where patient centricity was one of the main themes to embed into our culture throughout organisation.

3. The outcomes from AbbVie’s Patient Immersion Experience

The response received from the patient immersion program was very positive and many of our employees provided inspiring personal insights from their immersion journey. One of our Clinical Operation Managers in Taiwan voiced that while the experience was only 30 minutes long for her, through the meaningful simulation she now better understands how her son faces physical discomforts such as itchiness throughout the day as an atopic dermatitis patient. One of our marketing managers in Korea also mentioned that the experience helped her to better understand her father who had been living with glaucoma for a long period of time.

Meanwhile, another AbbVie Medical Advisor in Thailand highlighted how skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, which causes red, cracked, scaly, and oozing skin, was not just an illness but also a social stigma. The discrimination he felt after wearing a sticker tattoo throughout the day that mimicked the look of the illness, pushed him to question how he could help transform clinical practices to drive better patient outcomes.

4. How patient-centricity can be better elevated in pharmaceutical and healthcare businesses

A patient-centric approach to innovation should not just be limited to customer facing solutions but must be incorporated as an enterprise-wide approach and progress towards a culture-change throughout the value chain and organisation itself – this means continuing to analyse clinical trials to ensure they reflect a diversity in race, ethnicity, age, and gender, as well as supporting patients along with their families, caregivers and communities, all of whom play a pivotal role during a patient’s health journey.

Deloitte’s research also highlights that as companies evolve their patient-centricity focus, they can form collaborations with other sectors that excel at customer-centricity such as consumer technology. Another strategy could be to identify concrete objectives around incorporating patient perspectives into different processes throughout the life cycle and operationalise them. For example, AbbVie compiles Patient reported outcomes (PROs) or data that comes directly from the patient as an important way to measure their experience. They can be assessed in clinical trials and analysed relative to clinical data.

Real world evidence is also becoming increasingly important for industries to truly understand the complexity of diseases and the burdens patients face, and programmes should be tied to the real world. Researchers should also understand the whole picture of people’s medical care experiences – what’s happening and why, and how the medical experience will shape the patient’s life.

Category: Features, Top Story

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