Is “patient centricity” a buzzword or an emerging reality in pharma marketing? Seven of PM360’s Trailblazer Brand Champions and one Marketer of the Year finalist weighed in on the topic, “Putting the Patient First: How Can the Pharma + Patient Equation Lead to Better Outcomes?” (see story, page 32). All participants agreed on one thing: Putting patients first leads to better patient health outcomes and more successful pharma companies.

All of these companies are actively working at engaging patients. For instance, CSL puts patients first by inviting them to company functions so they can meet employees, who then have a better idea of what these patients go through in their daily lives. Others, such as Upsher-Smith, engage heavily with social media, creating web communities that allow them to learn about patients’ everyday lives, what they need, what they want, and how they can give them a good experience with their brand.

Listening has become a key skill when it comes to patient engagement, especially for pharma marketers who want to be there for them every step of the way—from diagnosis to medication delivery and on. Why? Because, as Angel Fernández, BMS, says, “Currently, patients are asking for more.”

Brenda Snow, Founder & CEO of the Snow Companies, can vouch for that. As an MS patient, she wanted more—to know someone else who had her illness, to know how she could live her life with a debilitating illness. (See the Trendsetter PM360 Q&A with Brenda Snow on page 42). Snow built that desire into her company and pioneered patient centricity. Knowing the day-to-day struggles someone with MS faces, she possesses that quality of empathy—which allows you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes—because they are her shoes, too. But anyone, with a little effort, can put themselves in others’ shoes—and are doing so.

So while the buzzword might be “patient centricity,” many in pharma are learning that the keyword is empathy. And it marks the way forward.