It’s Your Budget, Stupid!

“Did you know it’s the ‘Year Of The Patient?’” said everyone recently.

And “Patient Centricity” is the much-ballyhooed buzzword of the year? Google the phrase and up will pop 296,000 (and counting) search results, each of which extols the virtues of this miraculous new corporate philosophy. Patients at the center of patient care? How novel. That’s almost as shockingly illuminating as driver safety at the center of automobile design.

The pundit jargon from “key opinion leaders” across “multidisciplinary content channels,” “industry trend events” and “thought leadership workshops” are borderline hilarious, at least from atop my perch as the CEO of a patient advocacy organization serving millions affected by young adult cancer. “Patient centricity is the blockbuster drug of the century,” claims one person. Wow! Who knew that focusing on the end-user would actually be a thing to consider?

And so I must ask: For whom were they previously centric around? Payers? Doctors? Hospitals? That would seem odd because that would mean we’ve gone decades upon decades being consciously centric around everything but the one thing we should have been. Surely this can’t be the case.

And it’s not as if the industry hasn’t focused enough on profit over purpose. But all of the sudden, it’s appallingly obvious to elevate the most under-recognized stakeholder of all to the spotlight? Right now? And, while in doing so, that may actually lead to better outcomes, operational efficiencies, increased profit and happier shareholders? Break out the good china! Now everyone is a guru in the obvious anthropologic science of patient-centered care—as if it was inconceivable just yesterday morning.

Who Is Patient Centric

Guess what? An entire industry—millions of patients and thousands of businesses—have been patient-centric for years. It’s the nonprofit patient advocacy sector. Not patients. Patient advocacy organizations. We’ve been doing this sort of thing forever. It’s all we do. We don’t just need a seat at the table. We need your love, attention, support—and money.

From the patient advocacy organization perspective, we’d like it to be all about relationships—but it’s not. It’s about restricted or unrestricted funding, increased profits being inversely proportional to decreased patient advocacy grant budgets, and the public relations illusion that, by claiming to be “Patient Centric,” you actually put your money where your mouth is.

You are not suddenly “patient centric” because you hired someone with a fancy eponymous title who travels the country in the public spotlight on fact-finding missions to attend self-aggrandizing trade shows and buy nonprofit CEOs lunch. Meanwhile, said hire has no real power, no budget, no decision-making abilities and comes off as window dressing to a slickly crafted public relations campaign—all under the guise of making pharma look patient centric.

Your budget is a reflection of how much you care about actual patient centricity, most specifically, your valuation of the importance of the patient advocate organizations. The tipping point is coming, if not here already. You need us more than we need you. So let’s dance.

We’re ready when you are.

  • Matthew Zachary

    Concert pianist and cancer survivor Matthew Zachary is the Founder/CEO at Stupid Cancer, the nation’s dominant youth and young adult cancer brand. An agency veteran, he launched a social movement by innovating the nonprofit model through disruption and social entrepreneurship.


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