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3 Takeaways from Patients as Partners Europe

Patients in Europe are eager to be more involved in the process of developing treatments, CSL’s Sylvia Herget said. The high-energy event also offered inspiration from an expert in top-notch customer service.

Patients as Partners EUROPE logo

CSL leaders who attended this month’s Patient as Partners event in London say it was packed with opportunities to hear patients’ firsthand accounts and make the connections necessary to take patient engagement to the next level in Europe.

CSL’s Director of Patient Partnerships Sylvia Herget, based in Marburg, Germany, was a first-time attendee. She shared these takeaways:

1. The time is now to build the infrastructure necessary to involve patients more deeply in the process of developing medicines. High interest from patients combined with technology and new tools have set the stage for growth in that direction, Herget said. It’s going to take a combination of big steps – and small steps – to get there, she said.

One challenge: how to communicate with patients about clinical research they’re participating in. That means tackling issues with translating into multiple languages and giving patients a window into what the research findings are – in consumer-friendly language, Herget said.

“Patients would love to participate in clinical studies if they know how, why and where. We need to be flexible and out of the box here.”

2. The Patients as Partners event – with its mix of patients, company leaders and vendors – was a reminder that the patient’s voice can be included throughout the course of product development.

There are many options as CSL builds out its strategy to support this framework, Herget said. Grass roots-level evaluations, involving different members/regions globally, could streamline processes and communication. And that could lead to wins like faster recruitment for clinical studies, said Herget, who recently changed roles from Global Clinical Operations, where she spent several decades.

3. The best practices of great customer service could be a catalyst for improving the patient experience in clinical research.

One of the most memorable speakers brought perspective from an entirely different industry, Herget said. Linda Moir, a leading voice in customer service, previously was Director of In-Flight Services for Virgin Atlantic Airlines and also headed spectator services at the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games. Some highlights from Moir:

  • Put your people at the heart; customers will notice.
  • Accept ideas from employees at all levels, especially those who interact with customers daily.
  • If people feel proud about what they’re doing, they will do brilliant things

Herget said she was inspired by Moir’s take on customer service and how it can shine through moments of flexibility and appreciation.

“We can do small things, baby steps, and keep driving toward big picture objectives,” she said.