Commentary

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Kimberly Westrich Addresses Patient-Centricity Strategies, Benefits in Health Care

Author(s):

Kimberly Westrich, MA, of the National Pharmaceutical Council, addresses the benefits of incorporating patient-centricity throughout the health care system to foster more accurate and better quality of care.

Kimberly Westrich, MA, of the National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC), discusses actively integrating the patient voice to create a more responsive health care system. Westrich delivered a session at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) 2024 annual meeting, "Innovative Approaches to Integrating the Patient Experience," where she highlighted the benefits patients have when their quality of care is considered.

At NPC, Westrich is the chief strategy officer, a role through which she offers guidance in policy research and communications. She has been a part of several research initiatives across NPC's portfolio, most significantly employer-sponsored insurance. Westrich addresses both managed care settings and pharmaceutical research to explain the importance of patient-centricity within practices.

Transcript

How can we ensure that patient-centricity remains at the core of all decision-making processes, from drug development to patient care delivery?

When we're thinking about making sure that patient-centricity is remaining at the core of the decision-making processes, I think there's 3 things that we need to do. The first thing is to define what good patient engagement looks like and then the second thing is recognizing where we are in terms of achieving that patient-centricity. The third thing is continuing to make improvement.

So starting with that first thing, what does good patient engagement look like? I like to use IAD as the acronym, which is the airport that's by my house, so IAD. "I" is interaction. Good patient engagement is an interaction between the patient and the researcher, between the patient and the decision-maker. It's not something that is done to the patient, it's something that's done with the patient. That's the "I."

The "A" is "At all stages." You don't want to just bring the patient in at the end of a research project or at the end of the decision-making. Ideal patient engagement has the patient involved throughout the process. Then the final part, "D," that is decision-making that is guided by the input and the expertise of the patient. It's not just we're going to bring the patient in, we're going to get some context from them, and that will just be framing to the decision, but it actually guides the decision. So that's what good patient engagement looks like, IAD: interaction, all stages, decision-making that's guided.

Now, if you think about actually achieving that, you can imagine a spectrum and on one end of the spectrum, you have absolutely no engagement with the patient, and at the other end, you've got full engagement with patient communities. You've got that interaction, you've got them involved at all stages, and their input is actually guiding decision making. Now that perfect engagement is actually really hard to achieve and we don't want to let perfect be the enemy of the good.

So, to ensure that patient engagement is something that is happening at all stages of these decisions, we need to think about where are we on the spectrum and how do we keep moving toward that fuller engagement that's more impactful of the decisions where patients are cocreators. This can be in all sorts of decisions across the lifecycle, from patient-focused drug development, from health technology assessments that are looking at the value of the drug, to care decisions, formulary decision-makings. What we want to do is think about what good patient engagement looks like, where are we on the spectrum of achieving good patient engagement, and then what little steps can we take to keep moving toward greater and greater patient engagement.

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