Engaging patients, patient advocates, clinicians and others throughout the research process is of utmost importance. Advances in technology have increased the knowledge and insights of patients. Hence why the term 'patient empowerment' is an emerging concept. This term means that stakeholders exert influence over important goals for the industry. Let's have a look at what this entails for drug development:
Throughout the years, the Life Sciences industry has lost a significant level of control over how and when news related to drug development programs and other business activities is distributed. That’s why ‘stakeholder engagement’ is becoming more important in this ‘Information Age’. Patient advocates and other stakeholder groups have been given the resources to organise and use information to influence industry decision making and inspire action among their constituents. Nowadays, stakeholders are coming to the table better informed and more organised and empowered than ever.
Companies often lack time and resources to invest in patient advocacy in early clinical development. This is definitely the case for small biotech/pharma companies. They (most probably) will be acquired, while big companies already implement this strategy towards key external stakeholders.
The industry agrees that the development of drugs better succeeds with early stakeholder engagement. However, it is important not to forget the internal stakeholders. Especially those functions that are not full time working on one drug development program.
Nonetheless, external stakeholder management is complex. It requires engagement of different internal functions, including clinical, regulatory, commercial, marketing and senior leadership. They often have some level of engagement with stakeholders at the same time.
To cope with the complexity associated with external stakeholder management, the author of this article highlights a novel approach: working with a third party, to engage with stakeholders. This can work but having direct interaction with the stakeholders and thus building a good relationship between stakeholders and biotech/pharma companies has a lot of advantages.
At Modis we support that stakeholder relationships must be coordinated across multiple internal functions to avoid redundancies and to maintain control and consistency in messaging and collaboration. In addition, we acknowledge the benefit of in-depth stakeholder management and setting up a stakeholder management plan, which is one of the areas within project management.
Femke De Ruyck,
Senior Project Manager