Pharma managers too far removed from patients

As people move up the pharma ladder, their work often revolves around internal management issues, training, and endless meetings to motivate their employees rather than focus on patients.

Pharma likes to believe its own propaganda that everything they do is patient-focused, but that’s a canard. Pharma’s own internal processes and endless meetings are slowly draining the life out of employees and lead to a culture where people are promoted to navigate the system rather than help people.

This is especially true today when most qualitative research has come to a screeching halt. What I have found is that reliance on numbers far outweighs decisions instead of understanding what people want. To most pharma marketers patients are an audience segment quantified by numbers.

Yesterday I was talking to a DTC Director about the direction she is taking in 2021. Her response was “based on the numbers we are going to..” but then she followed up with “but the numbers I believe don’t tell the whole story.” When we discussed it further, she said that “ANY decisions we make are based on research data, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.”

Big pharma companies are huge bureaucratic organizations that research how to fill their morning coffee cups. As patients struggle to be heard and fight the healthcare system, pharma seems deaf.

The new healthcare consumer is faced with the challenge of shopping and saving: shopping for the price of prescription drugs or healthcare services and saving to pay for deductibles, out-of-pocket costs, and unanticipated medical emergencies. Yet pharma has done nothing to help.

The pandemic has been the perfect time to look within the organization and redefine how it’s aligned. Instead, there are three-hour conference calls on diversity and how to use new performance metrics. I had a chance to look at the calendar of an associate within pharma marketing and there was not one meeting on patients’ needs or how patients are making healthcare decisions today.

I’m sure that as you are reading this, you are saying things like “right” and “OMG, so true.” Some people are trying to change pharma matrix organizations, but too many get frustrated and wind up, leaving for more forward-thinking companies and industries.

The huge transformation in healthcare is coming. When it arrives it will hit pharma like an ice-cold bucket of water. Too many big organizations, too little focus on patients.