For more than 40 years, Genentech’s work has been underpinned by a foundation of science and data in service of patients. And, most recently, as we’ve navigated the complexities of discovering and delivering critical medicines during a global pandemic, this foundation has and will continue to serve as our guide. From protecting the health of our employees to evaluating medicines for COVID-19 and engaging with customers to meet patient needs, we’re following the science and informing our decision-making with data every step of the way.
Over the past several months, our commercial and medical affairs teams have been engaging virtually with customers across the country. They have adapted to address day-to-day needs such as providing scientific and clinical information on our medicines and support with access and reimbursement. And they have also responded to new challenges driven by COVID-19, including requests for information and support on Roche Diagnostics’ SARS-CoV-2 tests, conducting clinical research for our investigational medicines in radically new ways, and helping to address an increase in medical coverage issues faced by patients. Our recent experiences have both validated our approach and informed new ways of working that will endure beyond the pandemic.
Putting Our New Customer Engagement Model to the Test
This year, we began the roll out of a new customer engagement approach that was designed to transform the way we serve patients, physicians, providers, payors, and pharmacies, based on customer insights and our analysis of commercial and medical performance metrics.
We are transitioning from a traditional pharma organizational and territory model to one focused around local health care ecosystems with new specialty roles. For example, each ecosystem is led by both a commercial and a medical executive director, both of whom have deep local health system knowledge and expertise. The new model aims to help health care systems improve patient experience and outcomes, support population health, and reduce costs through streamlined touchpoints and local expertise that better align with the way care is delivered in communities across the United States today.
In the context of a pandemic that has impacted different health care systems in very different ways, we’ve seen a marked difference in our ability to respond quickly and effectively to customer needs in geographies where we’ve implemented our new ecosystem approach. Watching the data closely and seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases in our Louisiana / Mississippi ecosystem, for example, our on-the-ground team was able to rapidly stand up a new clinical trial site at an underserved hospital with a high proportion of racial and ethnic minority patients and bring access to one of our investigational medicines for the disease where it was urgently needed. This is something that would have been much more complex and slower under our former structure. As we continue the roll out of the new model broadly this year, we’re more confident than ever in the value of this tailored local approach.
New Ways of Working
COVID-19 has magnified and exacerbated underlying inefficiencies in our health care system and pushed everyone to find new ways of working that will last well beyond the pandemic. While the availability of telemedicine technology, for example, has exceeded uptake in the past, it has quickly become common practice out of necessity. And though clinical trials for serious diseases will undoubtedly continue to rely upon hospital care, many of our trial sites have been exploring ways to conduct assessments, administer medicines, and coordinate care remotely. For example, we recently amended the protocol for one of our investigational medicines so that it could be dosed in pre-filled syringes at home rather than in the clinic. It’s evident that these “emergency innovations” are ones that will serve health systems and patients well in the future within and outside of a pandemic context. So we’re tracking these learnings closely and asking ourselves what we can carry forward as well as other agile changes we might be able to make in the months and years to come.
The Path Ahead
Despite a partial return to normalcy in some areas, we continue to see tens of thousands of new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. every day. And as states and cities gradually reopen, we are continuing to let the data and local teams decide our next steps. For now that means sticking to virtual engagement practices wherever possible in order to protect the health of our employees, customers and their patients, and continuing to find new and flexible ways to deliver on our mission. The bar for resuming in-person interactions is high and this will only happen when it’s critical to directly support patient access to therapies or when the data in a local geography and health facility protocols deem it’s safe to do so. When those interactions do take place, our teams are equipped with health kits, access to regular testing, data dashboards, and decision-making frameworks.
Our health care systems and frontline responders continue to be hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. So it’s critical that we engage safely and respectfully, take time to understand their unique challenges, and do everything within our power to respond and support them appropriately at this time. Looking to the future, we firmly believe that what we learn from this experience will result in stronger partnerships, more efficient ways of working and better patient outcomes.
For more on Genentech’s response to COVID-19, including links to physician and patient support resources, visit gene.com/covid-19.