Everyone knows the difference between a strong quality culture and a weak quality culture in the pharma industry. Defining it, measuring it, and improving it is more difficult. We try to measure quality culture by the things that an organization does or does not do. Many describe quality culture as how an organization operates when no one is looking. I have a more patient-specific interpretation: organizations with a strong quality culture have embedded individuals with a “passion for the patient” and this is clear in every decision made.
What does it mean to have a “passion for the patient”? Well, what does it mean to have a passion for anything? It’s really about loving something (a calling, a profession, a person, etc.) day and night, no matter what. We think of that calling or passion first thing in the morning and do not stop thinking about it until our head hits the pillow. Passion drives our behavior; it influences what we do and how we do it, even when we are tired or having a bad day.
In this industry, having passion for the patient drives us to give our best efforts; to make sure patients are safe and their needs are met. It helps us strive to do the right thing.
A positive quality culture is about having a true passion for the patient. Most of us do not see the patient from within the walls of our organization. However, just as our families are still there even when we are away, so is the patient. Just as our families are dependent upon us to do the right things while we are away, so is the patient. That patient is counting on each member in the organization to have a passion for what they are doing, which drives them to do the right thing.
Improving an organization’s quality culture requires creating an empathetic connection with the patient. This includes the way we talk about the purpose of the company. The company is not simply making a product. The company is creating a therapy that will solve a patient need – one that a patient may depend on for life or that may influence how, or if, that patient can interact with their family.
The decisions made every day, every minute, matter. Just as our families continuously rely on us to make the best decisions for their wellbeing and safety, so does the patient. Getting to know the patients and their stories and how their illnesses impact them allows us to relate better. Everyone knows someone affected by an illness in their immediate or extended families. When we as an industry start to see patients as part of our extended families, we understand our duty to make the best possible decisions for their safety, every day, every minute. Making that connection is critical because love, or more specifically, passion, has everything to do with it!
How do you drive quality culture in your organization? How do you tell the patient’s story? And have you implemented approaches, based on a passion for the patient, when recruiting for clinical trials?