Patient Advocacy Must Be More Than a Good Sound Bite

By Michael Myers, Jeff Winton Associates Consultant

Dec. 2020

You would be hard-pressed to find any organization in today’s health care space that does not center its messaging around the patient and the importance of patient 

advocacy. Patient centricity is without question critical to the viability and efficacy of drug discovery, trial, and delivery, of patient care and treatment, and of health care coverage. While the right messaging is certainly important, if an organization’s actions do not back up and sustain the prose, those magical sound bites will eventually fall on deaf ears. 

So, a bit of introspection is needed to determine if your organization’s words and actions are in sync. Following are questions that every leader should be asking to ensure their words and actions are working in concert as it relates to patient advocacy.

  • Does your organization’s demographic makeup reflect the patient communities and populations it serves, or wishes to serve? Diversity & Inclusion in 2020 has taken on heightened significance as societal and racial injustice pierced our emotions. That more diverse employee base is not just reputationally smart business, and morally and ethically right, but it strengthens an organization’s ability to be far more in tune with and sensitive to patient needs if it mirrors that patient audience.


  • On the R&D front, is there a system in place at each stage of development and discovery to  listen to and engage with patient and advocate voices so that progressive work is enhanced and refined based on the expressed needs and wishes of that most important audience?


  • Is that patient audience an intrinsic and represented part of leadership thinking and strategic execution, not just when the cameras are rolling, the articles are published, and the tweets are shared, but when corporate plans are conceived, initiated, budgeted and executed for the following year? Anything short is missing the boat.


  • Finally, is your organization not only committed in theory, but actively participating with existing and prospective partners across the health care ecosystem, including policymakers and legislators, to a) make drugs more accessible and affordable, and b) bring greater participatory equity to clinical trials? 


Asking the right questions is a crucial learning step. Doing everything you can to improve patient lives by prioritizing needs, experience, access, and quality of life is paramount. Each of us, regardless of where we reside in the health care ecosystem, has an obligation to advocate on behalf of the patients whose lives we can change for the better.  


Michael Myers brings a wealth of experience to Jeff Winton Associates in corporate communications, public relations, and issues management, serving complex public and privately held organizations in health care, sports and entertainment, financial services, travel and tourism, and other industries. Most recently, he served as Senior Vice President of External Affairs & Communications for Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

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