Understanding the Value of Patient Centricity
How well are you able to carry out your usual social activities? How does your sleep issue affect your ability to do things with your family? Do you feel like you’re getting better?
These questions may seem unusual, but the answers are critical in understanding a patient’s disease burden, specifically, the health-related quality of life impact of a treatment, according to one of AbbVie’s leaders in patient-centered outcomes research.
This leader may be new to AbbVie, but her focus in patient experience isn’t. Katy Benjamin, Ph.D., director, health economics and outcomes research, leverages her expertise in developing tools to measure treatment outcomes from the patients’ perspective. She digs into what patients think and feel, combining this valuable information with more traditional clinical data to understand the burden of disease and how our molecules and medicines may reduce that burden – ultimately, to help create better treatments for patients.
We sat down with Katy to understand the role of the patient-centered research (PCR) group within AbbVie and how some critical insights are discovered outside of the lab.
How did you first become interested in patient behavior?
Katy Benjamin, Ph.D.: I’ve always been interested in patient behavior – what motivates someone to go to the doctor, to stick with a treatment. To answer the question: What are the factors that make people believe they’re getting better?
My background is in psychiatric social work, with a master’s in that area, and a master’s from Harvard in public policy. Before earning my doctorate at Johns Hopkins, I worked as a social scientist for the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, a U.S. public health agency, leading early efforts to understand how to measure the patients’ perspective when evaluating the effectiveness of medical care. I then worked in consulting for many years to develop and validate questionnaires to measure how patients viewed their health and their medical treatments, mainly for use in clinical trials. Over the course of my career, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to hundreds of patients with a wide variety of medical conditions.
I had to understand the “what” and “why” for patient outcomes. And as a social worker, I was trained to talk to people. My research training gave me the tools to turn these insights into questionnaires to measure what’s important to patients.