Collaboration through Digital Platforms to Bring Value to Latin American Patients
Jul 18, 2017
The healthcare industry is increasingly looking to incorporate technology and new channels to engage and collaborate with key stakeholders, including patients, physicians and payors. As the Internet of things spans across different areas of our life, this becomes more natural –especially, when we focus on serving people living with complex and debilitating conditions, where the convenience, accessibility and flexibility provided by technology can be a differentiating factor.
At Novartis, we have considered the pervasiveness and relevance of the digital era on Latin American patients’ ability to access better diagnostics, treatment options and support systems. Recent experiences demonstrate how we are collaborating with patients, advocates and physicians through new channels to bring information, support and –most importantly– solutions to those who need them most.
Our successful campaign “Podría Ser Tu Pulmón” is a great example. This effort has amplified the voices of lung cancer patients and caregivers to address the lack of awareness about the disease, its potential impact on anyone –even non-smokers–, and the important diagnostic steps to treat and manage the condition in an effective and safe way.
The campaign first emerged in 2015, after Novartis published the results from a global survey about people’s perceptions around lung cancer, which evidenced great knowledge gaps and myths around the condition. Eighty-four of the survey participants knew nothing or very little about lung cancer, and only one out of five recognized genetic alterations as potential drivers of the condition. The results were even more daunting in Latin America: if 75% of the total participants immediately thought smoking was the cause when they heard someone had lung cancer, this percentage averaged 84% in the region; and while in countries like Spain only 30% of people thought there is little support or compassion for lung cancer patients in their country, lack of support or compassion seemed higher in Colombia (70%), Argentina (62%) and Mexico (58%).
The “Podría Ser Tu Pulmón” campaign sought to shine light on two facts: that, due to genetic alterations, there are thousands of patients worldwide that live with lung cancer without ever smoking or being exposed to tobacco; and that many people refrain from seeking medical attention when there is an issue with their lungs because they’ve never smoked, causing a great portion of patients to get diagnosed at advanced stages.
The campaign involved the development of an educational website and a series of videos developed with patient advocates, lung cancer patients and their caregivers in the region. The videos were shared through social media, which allowed us to get feedback about the impact of our campaign from the patients:
“There isn’t a lot of information out there for patients who have lung cancer due to genetic mutations; so, the Podría Ser Tu Pulmón website meant the world to me. I would visit it almost daily and share it with friends and family, so they could learn more about what I was going through,” Maria del Carmen Pignataro, a lung cancer patient from Argentina, told us.
Understanding patients’ needs and use of these platforms, the campaign evolved and we launched the “Podría Ser Tu Pulmón” podcast series, where patients share their perspectives on the importance of performing molecular tests to lung cancer tumors to open-up new treatment options for patients.
The videos and podcasts have been shared with millions of patients, caregivers and other people interested in lung cancer in Latin America. This social component has been critical in increasing awareness about the different causes of lung cancer and driving more patients and physicians to inquire about molecular tests. However, we didn’t stop there; this communication effort has been accompanied by our ALK Testing Program, which aims to facilitate access to the tests by connecting lung cancer patients and their physicians to specialized centers that can perform molecular testing on their patients’ tumors. To this date, more than 1,000 lung cancer patients have been tested in Argentina, Brazil, Central America and the Caribbean, Chile, Colombia and Mexico.
Our Patient Declaration speaks about engaging and respecting patients’ active participation for improving healthcare services; and our business vision drives us to collaborate and incorporate their perspectives to optimize access and improve outcomes, while we create shared value in a sustainable and responsible manner. Instead of just a theoretical statement, we put this into practice each day – as the “Podría Ser Tu Pulmón” campaign goes to prove. Here, our collaboration with patient groups from the region, especially through social media, allowed us to viralize an educational message about lung cancer and help patients get the appropriate diagnosis.
At Novartis, we are continuously working to be ready for the future. That’s why we have become more focused on incorporating technology to bring value to patients, both as tangible and intangible solutions that have a positive impact on their outcomes and on our business.
 Any One Any Lung Survey, Harris Poll, sponsored by Novartis Oncology (2014).
 Samet JM. Lung cancer in never smokers: clinical epidemiology and environmental risk factors. Clin Cancer Res. 2009;15(18):5626-45.