Disruption as a Positive Force in Enhancing Patient Outcomes

Patient Centricity is the driving factor behind Commercial Solutions at Clinical SCORE. With 2016 as “the year of the patient,” we are pleased to highlight Thought Leaders from within the space:

Can you tell me about disruptive initiatives that you’re working on at the moment,
and why they are important?

My comments will focus on a few disruptive initiatives in the healthcare industry that impact the way that I think about my work. These innovations are occurring at blazing speed, so it will be impossible to address them all. However, I am interested in examining the presence, frequency and patterns of health outcomes across patient populations. Critical to this is an understanding of health care decisions made by patients, healthcare providers and systems that support this exchange; and to do so in a culturally competent manner.

So “disruptions” of any kind can impact how a decision maker understands the initiative, evaluates its impact on day-to-day activities and integrates it into the environment in which they operate. This is not something to be taken lightly. But the discussion is important because of the increasing demands that it can place on the healthcare system and opportunities to stimulate change for good in the environment. There are a number of disruptive initiatives in health care that are worth mentioning briefly:

  • Personalized Medicine and reducing of disparities in health outcomes
  • Telemedicine and more affordable access to specialists
  • Artificial Intelligence and concordance in chronic care self-management
  • Rapid fire patient recruitment and engagement in clinical trials through Cloud Technology
  • Entrants into the healthcare market by players outside the industry: Making a big splash and changing the engagement paradigm through the use of mobile communications wearable devices.

This affects my work because I want to understand how these innovations or technologies work as well as the subsequent outcomes for the user or recipient. These are the new innovations used by our customers so I need to understand them as we develop strategies to effectively engage. Medical teams within Pharma (under the appropriate compliance guidelines) can partner with stakeholders in efforts to improve quality, health outcomes and the lives of patients. So many new innovations use technologies and data platforms to increase patient knowledge, facilitate engagement and provide greater access to personalized information for education and decision-making. The goal of these tools is “value” driven, that is to improve the quality of health outcomes and empower patients as they engage in increasingly complex systems of care for treatment.

This impacts the well-being of families and communities so that hopefully they can live fuller lives. I go back to the World Health Organizations definition of health as not simply the absence of disease, but the complete physical, mental and social well-being of an individual.

At Clinical SCORE, we specialize in uncovering clinical trial challenges by listening to research sites, and generating useful insights to help study teams diagnose and act on these challenges. Can you tell me about why it’s important to listen to study sites, and the importance of generating insights about patients from study sites?
It is important to listen to study sites because they are our partners in the research process. This represents the ground level of bringing an innovative study or protocol to “volunteers” in an effort to find solutions to challenges health care conditions. These are people and organizations that are close to patients and their caregivers who also want answers. We must listen and understand the challenges as well as the opportunities to educate; both are important.

At Sanofi, we strive to be the Partner of Choice in clinical research. A key aspect of this is in our ability to listen and understand the environment around us to operate collaboratively. Success does not mean being the smartest guy in the room, but being an effective listener so that one can better empathize with the needs, perspectives and values of others. In the end, this is our most valuable tool – the ability to listen effectively and act on what we hear to improve the lives of others.

Melva T. Covington, MPH, MBA, PhD
Dr. Covington is currently a Senior Director, Field Medical Strategy Lead in the Diabetes Cardiovascular Disease Business Unit at Sanofi. She has held various leadership roles within the Global R&D organization at Sanofi since 2010. Her leadership skills, expertise and collaborations in public health, clinical research and analysis have spanned over 20 years, covering the range of lifecycle development and therapeutic areas. She has a background in public health, early intervention, pharmacoeconomics, strategic thinking and business management. Her goal is to apply these skills strategically and innovatively to address complex issues within healthcare systems, organizations and communities. Much of her work focuses on population-based disparities in health outcomes, operations management and cultural competency.

Prior to joining Sanofi, Melva led both Global and US-based teams in Health Outcomes and Pharmacoeconomics across a number of therapeutic areas at Lilly and Roche Labs. She is passionate about assessing integrated data and perceptions contextually and then applying that knowledge for targeted solutions to improve outcomes across diverse patient populations.

She has an AB in Politics/Economics from The Catholic University of America, Masters of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health and PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and MBA from Cornell University. Melva has authored numerous publications and is an impassioned public speaker.

Clinical SCORE produces this interview series, as well as our other thought and opinion pieces, as part of our unwavering commitment to enhancing the value of clinical trials to patients and sponsors.See more at clinicalscore.com/new