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Break down those silos and work across internal and external stakeholders!

In my first blog post in this series ‘The early bird catches the worm’, we considered how to get clarity on the reasons why the organisation is investing in a patient support programme (PSP) and how you will measure success. Today we consider the second step.


Step 2: Engage with stakeholders inside and outside of your organisation

Diseases don’t occur in a vacuum for those experiencing them, for those caring for patients, or for those trying to cure them. For any patient support programme to be successful, it needs to transcend the operational silos so prominent within the pharmaceutical industry – starting with internal stakeholders.

Internal stakeholders

Departments must work together, not just in sharing data, but in coordinating goals and objectives from the start.  Begin by mapping out all the internal stakeholders who will have a role in designing, delivering and using the outputs of the patient support programme.

A multi-disciplinary workshop will allow you to understand what success looks like to each stakeholder. Certainly each department will expect different outcomes from the programme and will be able to use the data in different ways:

  • Market Access and HEOR teams will value real world data (e.g. disease outcomes, burden of disease and QoL) that can be used in peer-reviewed journals to support the value proposition and in negotiations with reimbursement authorities/formulary committees
  • Brand teams want successful launches, penetration and increased market share
  • Medical teams would like to see adherence and persistence data showing patients are staying on their medications as prescribed and clinical data showing the desired outcomes
  • Pharmacovigilance needs to monitor the performance of products in a wider population and look for uncommon side effects

Internal teams will be bought into the programme when they can see the benefits for patients and “what’s in it for them”. You will then need to work with these different departments as you design the programme, building in the steps to reach the desired outcomes.

External stakeholders

Patients may be at the heart of your programme but success relies on meeting the needs of a whole variety of external stakeholders. Each of these plays a key role in either the patient’s access to medication or their experience of the disease and treatment.

The image below gives an overview of the concerns and needs of different parties:

Understanding the needs of these stakeholders, where interactions takes place with the patient and how each stakeholder intersects, is unique to each therapy area and product. To uncover these insights and design a programme that satisfies these different needs, consider a range of primary and secondary research methodologies:

  • Therapy area and landscape analysis
  • Literature and clinical trial review
  • Patient and HCP interviews
  • Social listening
  • KOL engagement

When you’re designing your questionnaire for patient interviews and interpreting the findings, there’s one huge challenge to keep in mind: to improve adherence, we need to change attitudes and behaviour. And this kind of change is never easy!

We’ll share our top tips for tackling this challenge next time.

Check back for part three of the blog series and follow us on LinkedIn for updates. Need more information now? Contact Nagore to find out how we can help you.


Nagore Fernandez is Ashfield’s Head of Patient Solutions for EUCAN. Ashfield is a leading provider of innovative, flexible and scalable Patient Support Programmes, with over 16 years’ experience in designing and delivering a wide range of patient centric programmes. Nagore is a Clinical Pharmacist, holds a Masters in Clinical Research and has over 10 years’ experience in the field.

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