Wednesday, March 2, 2016

How To Be A Good Drug Company

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Welcome to the third and final day of the 2016 ePharma Summit. I look forward to providing you a full conference recap and reaction later on. As we come close to breaking for lunch and ending our morning sessions, I can say that it has been an eye-opening morning. An eye-opening morning, but a roller-coaster of emotions.

Steve Klasko of Jefferson University kicked us off with an amazing session this morning. Founding a medical school that focuses its recruitment on self-acceptance and empathy, along with high test scores, is how to change healthcare in this country. We have vehemently ignored the concept of looking at how physicians are educated in this country. Change and innovation in healthcare professionals has to start at the very beginning: the training, the education.

What I loved about Steve's session was his stance that it's not an us vs. them world out there. It's time for every player to join the healthcare revolution. He channeled Yoda when saying: Do or Do Not; There Is No Try. And it's true. We aren't going to TRY to make change in healthcare; we aren't going to TRY to include patients. We have to just DO it.

One of the panel discussions of the morning was something I was so excited to hear: a full patient led panel. We had Jack Barrette from WEGO Health, Casey Quinlan from The Mighty, Julie Cerrone from It's Just A Bad Day, Not A Bad Life, and Randi Redmond Oster from Help Me Health. All patients or a caregiver, all advocates, all honest, all real. My kind of panel!

In terms of the panel, they were fantastic talking about pharma tv ads. Though the topic was killing pharma tv ads, I actually think they serve a purpose, but we just need to change them. As Julie said, don't show us people running in a meadow in your ads. By the way: most of us aren't mobile enough to be able to do that! Show us REAL patients! Additionally, pharma needs to stop talking about including patients, and saying that they are talking about what patients need. Ask the patients what we need. In case we haven't already made it clear for you: we want to help! Let us show you how our lives and our conditions and our experiences can help bolster your business and help you grow.

Here's the negative, you know I had to keep to real. In a general sense, it took almost the majority of the patient-driven session for the audience to even stop talking and pay attention. Even that didn't completely occur. Hey pharma: if you're talking about moving your brand to being patient-focused, maybe don't leave the session when the real patients start talking. You want to help us? Then understand that patients are everywhere.

Specifically, however, I was so disappointed, and infuriated in hearing the conversations from audience members sitting at my table or next to me (Cough, cough, Amgen representatives). Calling the patient on stage bitter shouldn't happen in the first place. However, when it inevitably and disappointingly does, make sure the people sitting right next to you aren't also patients. While you laugh and joke with your colleagues, we're trying to show you what it's like to be a patient and what we really want. Does pharma actually think they would survive without patients? Does healthcare has a whole think it would survive?

I think not, folks.

Patients aren't bitter. We're just trying to survive, persevere, and maintain a relatively positive quality of life in YOUR world. Let us live here too.

Make sure to follow along live with this year's ePharma Summit. Read about sessions and experience on the ePharma blog here. Follow along on social media with @ePharma and #ePharma16. If you'd like to follow my thoughts and experience specifically, find me at @KristinMCoppens.

About the author: 
Kristin Coppens is a social media and digital communications professional, a health activist, an ePatient, and a multiple chronic diseases fighter and blogger. You can read more about her chronic illness journey on her blog, Chronically Kristin, or follow her on Twitter. 
She will also be joining us this year at ePharma as an official guest blogger sharing insights from the event.
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