Welcome friends to our new podcast, The Patients Speak. As we have conversations with innovative healthcare executives about what they learn when they hear the patients speak.

Today’s topic is about listening while commercializing new therapies. There is market research, there is strategy, there are marketing programs, and there are opportunities to listen and learn all through that process.

Today’s guest is an expert in this field. Keli Walbert. She is Executive Vice President of Horizon Therapeutics she has also been selected as a Woman of Distinction by Medical Marketing + Media.

Based on her career experience, she tells us what we can learn from the patients themselves

  • Her first lesson is to remind us not to think of patients first as patients. Think of them as people and consumers. Because it’s important that we look across their lives to help understand their experience. This enables us to bring programs and offers to them that can help them more broadly than just their disease state.
  • Secondly, to bring some awareness to the diseases and even to the ways, it affects their life. In a more significant disease state, Horizon Therapeutics does ethnographic research, where they go into people’s homes. They go with them through their disease journey so as to understand more holistically how their life is affected by the disease that they have in order to then identify ways to bring solutions that help them beyond just the medicine.
  • Thirdly, to recognize that patients have a life outside of whatever they’re dealing with and doctor’s appointments and pill bottles.

We then talk about one of Horizon’s products called Tepezza which is for thyroid eye disease. It is a first-in-class novel monoclonal antibody that is treating thyroid eye disease. And it’s the first and only approved FDA therapy for thyroid eye disease. She recalls that when they brought it to market, they actually changed the point at which they believe treatment should occur because they learned that the physicians that the patients were seeing didn’t necessarily fully appreciate the symptoms and the impact that this disease was having on patients’ quality of life.

So they looked at the patient journey and realized that it was absolutely essential that there was individualized, personalized care for every single patient to help them navigate the access barriers so that they could ultimately get access to therapy.

Through Horizon Therapeutics’ journey, she shares with us some golden tips and what they are willing to do for every single product at Horizon essentially because our healthcare system is complex and it’s increasingly difficult for patients to navigate

  • Which is essentially providing support beyond medicine.
  • Their intention is to give patients the tools and the support they need in order to advocate for themselves. If patients can advocate for themselves then, they are more likely to get access to therapy.
  • They intend to provide support, education, and one-to-one attention to help patients understand their disease and understand what they need to support themselves and also understand how they can get access.
  • Patients that suffer from rare diseases need to know that there are legitimate organizations that are behind the development of these products so that they feel safer in trying a novel therapy.

In conclusion, we talk about one of the things that makes Horizon different: The CEO is also a patient. And the very first product that he brought to market, was because he saw it through the eyes of a patient. In many workplaces people are asked to leave our personal lives at the door and show up with their business selves. But not at Horizon. Everyone is encouraged to bring their personal experience into the workplace. Because they really do believe that their personal experience as caregivers and as patients actually help them as employees do a better job and meet the needs of their customers more effectively.


Keli’s Website

If you’d like to read more about patient empowerment – along with the 83bar patient recruitment platform – go to www.83bar.com


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