October 21, 2021 / All Stories

Magnified featuring Matt Widman

His mission to help patients is personal. Learn how this former chemist draws on his experiences to build a best-in-class patient services team.

Magnified featuring Matt Widman

With a passion for problem solving and a background in analytical chemistry, Matt Widman, vice president, patient services, now leads a team that serves as the touchpoint to the patient at AbbVie. Widman carries a unique empathy for the patient and their families because of his own personal loss, and that fuels him to ensure patients diagnosed with some of the most challenging conditions feel empowered and can reach their full treatment potential. 

You started your professional career as a bench scientist – a very different area than where you are today. Why did you want to be a chemist? 

I love solving problems, and it all resonated with me during my first high school chemistry class. I am analytical. I like math. I like science. I like numbers. Chemistry to me was having the ability to solve very large, complex issues and synthesizing them down to a way you can understand. Once I went down that road, I never looked back. 

Did you have any role models in science or medicine to lean on as you pursued a chemistry degree and career?  

It was a path I paved for myself. I was the first in my family to go to college. It was uncharted territory because there was a lot of responsibility for me to achieve success. While my friends and family couldn’t guide me specifically on this career path, what I’ve always taken away from them is how to treat others. I think when you work hard and do what’s right for others and for yourself, you’ll find a recipe for success.

Your career headed into a new direction when you left R&D as a chemist and pursued your MBA. What was that transition like?  

When I went from an analytical chemist to a research chemist, I really enjoyed being more involved in the strategy, innovation and design of new experiments compared to repetitive sequence experiments on the bench. I made a choice to go to business school so that I could expand my knowledge and skills. After getting my MBA, I took on new roles in the area of strategic marketing, commercial development, program management and operations. I also spent time in a global marketing role which gave me a better understanding of how we work around the world to bring our innovative medicines to patients.  Here, I experienced working with many different cultures, operating models, health systems, and strategies. The one thing that was similar was the commitment to our patients and making a remarkable impact on their lives.  

Matt Widman - Quote

Your career took another turn to create a group that supports patients who are prescribed AbbVie medicines. What does this work look like for you each day?  

Everything we do at AbbVie is for the patient. They are our North Star, no matter where you sit in the company, and about 10 years ago, I was tapped to establish what is now our Patient Services organization. We have come a long way in that time to build what we view as a best-in-class organization that supports patients on AbbVie medications while on their prescribed treatment journey.  We take the time to understand what patients are going through. We listen to them, and we learn from them. We provide education and resources that help patients navigate their prescribed treatment journey, which can often be complex and frustrating, and we do it in an empathetic and caring way.

Imagine being diagnosed with cancer and the shock you feel and the questions you might have, along with the work that might need to be done to figure out how your insurance covers the medication. In Patient Services, we develop a series of strategies and tactics to help patients navigate their prescribed treatment journey and help them achieve the best possible treatment outcome. A lot of the approach and thought process is very similar to being in a lab and solving a complex experiment.  

You personally understand the emotional roller coaster patients and their families experience. Does that give you a different perspective of how to support patients?  

I’ve experienced what caregivers go through when a loved one is diagnosed, and my wife and I have felt that pain in one of the worst ways when our 3-year-old son was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. He fought it for 15 months but passed away. At the time I was very angry and broken. Over the years, I reflected on all the health care and support that we received along the way and have gained so much respect and gratitude for health care providers and the pharmaceutical industry who work to provide patients and their families hope and a chance to live life to the fullest. At AbbVie, we describe our work as purposeful and it’s that mindset that fuels our passion to be here for patients every single day.   

How do you describe your leadership style with a team that carries so much responsibility for what they do for patients? 

I am so lucky to lead a group of people who are just as passionate and committed to supporting our patients as I am. They come from different backgrounds, have different skill sets, and have different perspectives. As someone who is inclusive and who tries to be authentic with my team, I want to hear their ideas and I want them to know where I stand because at the end of the day, we want what’s best for patients. What patients needed last year could be different from this year and even five years from now. We’re always listening and we’re always problem solving. 

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Name: Marianne Ostrogorski
Email: Marianne.ostrogorski@abbvie.com
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