Craig Bradley
Craig Bradley
Shire Pharmaceuticals

I can’t believe it’s 12 months since the last Chairman’s Viewpoint – I’m not sure I’ve drawn breath with the pace and nature of the pharmaceutical industry as it currently is! Here at the PM Society we’ve been serving the needs of the pharmaceutical industry, its related service agencies and everything in between as a not for profit organisation for over 40 years so I guess that’s nothing new! Our current focus is the delivery of our 2020 Vision which has seen the evolution of the PM Society from a focus on pure marketing to wider healthcare communication to reflect the evolution of the industry. Essentially the PM Society believes that excellent healthcare communications lead to better outcomes for patients and from this we have our purpose:

- Supporting organisations and people in healthcare
- Recognising excellence and promoting best practice
- Providing education and development

In terms of industry focus for the last few years access has become a critical issue – no access equals no brand and no patient benefit! The UK market access landscape has been constantly evolving with environmental developments, pricing and reimbursement challenges, regulatory changes, customer financial pressures, and innovations through new technology. In order to stay ahead of the curve it’s become imperative for all functions with the industry to understand their own role within the access process with the overarching aim remaining that the patient receives the greatest benefit from the prospective treatment. Alongside this developments in the NHS structure via integrated care systems (ICSs) that involve both health and social care will be key to NHS engagement in the future. Both industry and agencies will need to understand the move to ICS by engaging with these new key stakeholders, gaining insights into their priorities and building strategies to ensure that treatments are presented with an overall value proposition considering the mix of both health and social care. In addition to the ICS structural change the recently announced 10-year NHS plan, where in basic terms the government has announced increases in NHS funding over five years beginning in 2019/20, will see the NHS come up with strategies for for how this funding will be used. Again, this will see a further need for NHS engagement from an access perspective, and potentially enabling significant efficiency improvements – again treatments will need to be supported by strategies that highlight their value across the full health economy.

As well as engagement with healthcare professionals the recent trend of patient-centred healthcare is here to stay with its two-way street of industry patient dialogue. The last few years have seen a genuine move toward patient centricity as the industry has realised the benefit of the informed, educated and motivated patient. It’s become vital to explore and support initiatives that improve the way in which we involve patients in the decisions, strategies and policies that shape their healthcare.

In terms of methods of engagement the last few years has seen a definite movement within the industry as many companies ramp up their adoption of digital technologies. Technology is constantly evolving and the more traditional digital elements are sometimes overlooked in the excitement about the latest trends in social media, apps etc. At the PM Society we are seeking to improve digital competency and share best practice across the industry as interest and uptake increases. There’s a real opportunity for a future of patient-centricity where the patient is empowered and an active partner in their healthcare through the digital medium.

Other recent issues for the industry have seen the implementation of EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and its new definition of consent – which must be informed, freely given and specific; something which may be problematic for pharma and agencies as it has the potential to inhibit secondary uses of clinical data which is often repurposed in the industry for purposes for which an individual may not have provided specific consent.

The 2020 vision mentions at the start of the article will ensure that the PM Society remains relevant to the industry over the next few years and beyond. To ensure that the Society is supporting today’s industry and agency members it has four active Interest Groups aligned to the current challenges and issues – Market Access, Digital, Patient Engagement and our latest Interest Group focussed on the Industry Agency Relationship; all run by experts in the field. The Industry Agency Relationship Interest Group is about to launch a survey looking at pitch practice across agencies, marketing, medical and procurement – please do look out for this and get involved to support the group in identifying best practice in working together! Alongside the Interest Groups the Society also has two highly regarded Award schemes – the PM Society Awards and the Digital Awards, both recognising excellence and promoting best practice. It was great to see so many of you at the excellent Digital Awards in late September, whilst I look forward to seeing even more of you at the longest running and still most popular healthcare awards, the PM Society Awards, on February 1st 2019 to celebrate and recognise creativity, impact and innovation in communications across the industry!

As the Lead for the Market Access Interest Group and the first ever pharma Chair at the PM Society I’ve found being involved with the Society excellent for increasing the depth of my knowledge of the industry, the agencies that support the industry and all the organisations in between plus how they interact. It would be great to see more pharma colleagues get involved in our Interest Groups to further their own development. Another new initiative being developed currently is part of our Giving Back project, where we’re looking to support graduate entry into the industry on the pharma and agency sides to ensure that the talent flow of graduates continues. Watch the PM Society social feeds and website for more details!

As a not-for-profit organisation the input from members across both industry and agency sides is crucial for the Society’s longevity – there are multiple ways to support the Society from being an Advocate for the PM Society in your company and sharing information around events, awards and training to actively joining an Interest Group to work on specific projects, and then progressing to the PM Society Committee to shape its future direction. Check out the PM Society social feeds and website for more details of how you too can get involved!