ELITE 2019 Transformational Leader Akil Hunte of Neurocrine Biosciences

Akil Hunte

Sr. Product Manager, Patient Marketing

Neurocrine Biosciences

Prioritizing the Patient Voice in the TD Community

Communicating directly with patients always demands a high level of sensitivity and openness—the kind of qualities Akil Hunte brings to the table. The need for those qualities is even more elevated when it comes to conditions such as tardive dyskinesia (TD), an involuntary movement disorder that some people can develop after prolonged exposure to antipsychotics, commonly prescribed to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. Akil did not shy away from a dialogue that addressed how some patients felt misunderstood about their condition. He actively worked to see how he could engage and change the perception of how the healthcare industry can partner together to support patients living with TD. Through honesty and collaboration, Akil has been able to unite the key stakeholders that must work together for better health outcomes for TD patients.

Given the unique needs of the TD population, Akil worked closely with his internal teams and Snow Companies, a company specializing in patient engagement, to adapt processes and policies to ensure patients felt comfortable sharing their personal experiences. Since day one, Akil championed the need to pull the patient voice through in all that Neurocrine Biosciences was doing for TD. He reinforced the need for patients to be able to share their authentic story of what it means to live with TD, and to use those stories to educate and push the public to be more thoughtful in their interactions with those in the TD community.

Akil recognized early the importance of partnering with Snow Companies to build the TD Patient Ambassador program and working with patients to share their story through various channels to reach others in the TD community and to find unique forms of interaction and support. He also launched the TD Educational Art Exhibit Project, in which Snow Companies and the healthcare communications agency Spectrum worked together to capture the emotional journey of patients through customized portrait art to help educate healthcare providers and inform the patient-physician dialogue.

Akil’s passionate and determined drive allowed the patient voice to be heard and better understood through the TD Patient Ambassador program—the first ever launched in this disease category.

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