How can drug researchers tune in to patients' voices? InVentiv Health aims to find out

InVentiv Health execs preview upcoming panel at J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference this week in San Francisco.

Ask any pharma for their top five list of current industry buzzwords and "patient-centric" is likely to be on it. But how much of that buzz translates into effective action? Healthcare agency inVentiv Health said it wants to discuss some answers at the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco this week.

The agency has tapped an EMD Serono business development exec, a partner from Covington & Burling and a co-founder of PatientsLikeMe for a discussion aimed at the ways patient insights and data can lead to better drugs, compliance and interactions with patients.

Patient-reported outcomes in trials have been around for more than a decade, inVentiv Health SVP of real-world evidence David Thompson said. But companies are stepping up patient interaction in clinical studies, and some techniques are better than others.

“[T]he concept of patient centric-ness in the research process, and involving patients and stakeholders in the study design and execution is pretty new stuff," Thompson said in an interview. "That has yet to crystalize and people are still trying to figure out the most optimal way of including the voice of the patient.”

Pharma companies are definitely working on tuning in to that voice. As Thompson said, drugmakers know that if they don’t, others will—and maybe in a way that's less favorable to pharma companies.

Pharma is now pushing to develop evidence that goes beyond the approval stage and incorporates patient views and experiences as evidence in phase 4 or post-launch research designed “to facilitate market access, favorable reimbursement and defensible pricing.”

Thompson's inVentiv Health colleague Heather Gartman, who is managing director and lead in patient engagement and global clinical trial recruitment, noted that pharma companies are more fully understanding the value of patient data and insights.

“It’s much more recognized and appreciated in pharma that the information they’re getting from the patient community is just as valuable, if not more valuable, than the information they’re putting out," Gartman said.

"It’s definitely more of a partnership than the former one-way communications,” she said, adding, "It’s not new that pharma works with patients, but it has become more intimate and a two-way street. They’re just better able to work with each other.”

To formalize those insights, pharma companies are now working to develop frameworks to incorporate real-world data and insights into its processes as early as possible in the research process. If pharma companies can understand patient wants and needs earlier, Gartman said, it can allow them to communicate more effectively in the post-launch phase.