ELITE 2018 Transformational Leader Doug Noland of Astellas US

Doug Noland

Executive Director, Patient Experience

Astellas US

Truly Putting Patients First

Many companies talk about being more-patient centric, but none have done what Doug Noland has accomplished. He successfully established a new organization within Astellas—the Astellas Patient Experience Organization. This group is structurally and organizationally separate from commercial arms typically associated with pharma. They have no responsibility for product marketing and sales—one of their primary purposes is focused on collaborating with healthcare stakeholders to improve the experiences and outcomes for patients, caregivers, and their families.

“Since Doug has led patient experience at Astellas Pharmaceuticals, the organization has witnessed both process and cultural improvement resulting in greater patient centeredness,” says James Merlino, MD, President and Chief Medical Officer, Strategic Consulting at Press Ganey. “Doug and his team have zeroed in on operational processes that have improved patient and customer satisfaction. Recognizing that process alone will not transform the organization, he has also designed and executed the first organizational-wide patient focus alignment exercise.”

Under Doug, this organization has initiated empathy-building employee engagement programs that help employees see daily life through a patient’s and caregivers’ eyes. They also conducted a “Patient and Caregiver Focus Week,” which included talks/Q&A with patients and caregivers who, in some cases, were actually Astellas employees. The intersection of personal lives and professional lives is informing and building empathy that is helping stimulate new thinking and new connections in the healthcare ecosystem.

This type of strategic, organizational transformation has been a hallmark of Doug’s career. With some assignments early in his career, he recognized the challenges of change and reached out to experts in organizational transformation such as John Kotter of Harvard Business School. These early learnings and relationships continue to bear fruit as he undertook the challenge to help align Astellas in an evolving healthcare environment.

“Doug is on the leading edge of transformation in the pharma industry,” says Randy Isaacson, President and Founder of Stori Health Inc. “What he’s accomplished in the last 12-18 months is impressive by any standard, and it reflects not only his vision, but his ability to lead cross-functional teams, motivate his colleagues, and demonstrate a genuine and compassionate commitment to patients.”


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