Conducting More Patient Centered Care Improves Outcomes with Kevin Freiert, Principal at Salem Oaks Consulting

Conducting More Patient Centered Care Improves Outcomes with Kevin Freiert, Principal at Salem Oaks Consulting

Hey Outcomes Rocket friends, thanks for tuning in to the podcast once again. As a leader in health care, you have big ideas, great products, a story to tell, and are looking for ways to improve your reach and scale your business. However there's one tiny problem. Health care is tough to navigate and the typical sales cycle is slow. That's why you should consider starting your own podcast as part of your sales and marketing strategy. At the Outcomes Rocket, I've been able to reach thousands of people every single month that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to reach if I had not started my podcast. Having this organic reach enables me to get the feedback necessary to create a podcast that delivers value that you are looking for. And the same thing goes if you start a podcast for what you could learn from your customers. The best thing about podcasting in healthcare is that we are currently at the ground level, meaning that the number of people in healthcare listening to podcasts is small but growing rapidly. I put together a free checklist for you to check out the steps on what it takes to create your own podcast. You could find that at outcomesrocket.health/podcast. Check it out today and find a new way to leverage the sales, marketing and outcomes of your business. That's outcomesrocket.health/podcast.

Welcome back once again to the Outcomes Rocket podcast where we chat with today's most successful and inspiring health leaders. Today I have the fantastic Kevin Freiert. He's a principal at Salem Oaks Consulting. Kevin is a consultant to patient advocates and a seasoned drug developer. He'd like to offer his services to patient advocacy groups to help them equip their constituents to directly influence the design and development of new medicines. Pharma companies and biotechs alike want patients more deeply involved in the design and performance of clinical studies. Patients desperately want those studies to better address their specific medical conditions and needs but they may not be familiar with drug development or feel able to effectively interact with highly educated experts. These two groups find it hard to talk to each other and he can help close that gap. He spent about 30 years plus at Pfizer and has held other leadership positions from the laboratory bench scientists to clinicians to the senior business executives. He has been able to address all their needs. It's a pleasure to have Kevin on the podcast. Looking forward to uncovering some of the cool things that you guys are up to Kevin.

Great. I'm really happy to be here. Thank you for inviting us to talk today.

Absolutely. Now why did you decide to get into the medical sector?

Well I started out in a premed program and I soon realized that while I didn't want to be a doctor I did want to be a scientist. And my first job, my first real job was in a lab at the University of Buffalo Medical School working for Dr. Robert Clocky who was at the time the editor of The Journal of Applied Physiology although my degree was in molecular genetics I was thrown into the world of trying to understand gas exchange and the pulmonary system. It was pure basic physiology while I was there he and his team taught me how to do surgical techniques, computer programming and how to do really solid science. What he taught me got me an interview. And ultimately a job at Pfizer. And once I was there I was pulled into this industrial style really quickly. I was just infatuated with the applied aspect of what pharma companies were doing. It wasn't just science it was science that was going to make a difference. What I really wanted to talk about what I got into is what I've been involved with the patient side lately and just recently moved into just before I finished my career at Pfizer. We had a guest speaker at a global department meeting. She was a Parkinson's patient Lisa Cone who spoke to us about how we were doing our clinical trials you know even all drug development wrong by not tapping into the patient's expertise. She gave examples of several ways that we could do it better just by talking to patients. But I was really impressed with her knowledge and her ability to speak our language. Not all people can do that. So I approached her afterward and learned that she had actually worked for a company that developed patient reported outcomes which meant she was an insider of course she could speak our language. So then I turned to her her colleague from the Parkinson's Foundation Carolyn Schroeder and asked how do you prepare your advocates to do what you're talking about here. And she told me about something that they run it's called the PAR program. Patient advocates in research. I asked what they had for teaching PAR participants about drug development in clinical trials. And she admitted it was a bit thin. And that's when the light bulb went on. I could use my experience bringing our Indy to life for researchers to help patients learn so that they could be more effective advocates for themselves and for others. I knew the industry was really starting to realize this that the patients were important and they needed to partner with them and they just didn't know how to do it. So I saw an opportunity after my early retirement party and I set out to establish a company and the acorn that became Salem Oaks was planted at first as a one man show and I soon realized I needed some help to do some needed research and establish a social media strategies. So I bought some people on. And by doing that it's really jumpstarted our work giving us a presence and it's freed me to return to my attention to developing our educational products.

Kevin I think that's pretty cool and so you've you've taken this new approach to get patients more involved in the drug research process. What would you say is the hot topic that needs to be on all the medical leaders agenda today?

And I think that is the key question to everything here. The most important thing we should be paying attention to is the shifting of the balance of power and influence toward patients in all of health care. Patients are the experts in living with their own disease 24/7, 365 and therefore they bring motivation and attention and focused. Health care professionals just can't do it. The health care professionals need to learn about medicine largely and learn about everything that's out there and they can't focus down on specific cases as much as these patients can. And so it's important for the patients to learn how to the discussion with the doctor or the physician assistant or the nurse that they're talking to to talk about what's going on with them and what's really important with their disease and where they want to get to what successful treatment would look like her successful cure would look like. Similarly patients can do that same thing in rnd but they're really not equipped to do it. As you said before the process is complex, the language uses dance the acronyms and technical terms are all over the place. And the researchers are really smart. These are people who have multiple advanced degrees and they can be intimidating. So we believe that the patients need to develop the knowledge the skills and the confidence to be more effective partners. And we're approaching this at Salem Oaks by providing educational resources to these patients and their families. We can't forget about the caregivers in this picture as well. We're creating e-learning webinars face to face courses and other resources as well. We're laser focused on the medicine's development process right now. But we're thinking about moving into other areas of healthcare as we grow and as we bring on experts in those areas. One thing I've learned in the process of getting into this patient side is that there's other people involved. This is a really is it takes a village. So I have some ideas about what other people could do here too. I think that for healthcare professionals there's a new movement called participatory medicine and this movement is where patients and healthcare professionals actively collaborate encourage one another as full partners in the in health situation. A great place to learn about this is the society for participatory medicine and you can reach them at participatorymedicine.org.

We actually had Dr. Danny Sands on the on the podcast couple of months ago.

Excellent. You have to get epatient Dave to all of us...

Yeah he mentioned him as well. I haven't had a man yet but it's a great movement. Some some fascinating things happening through that and it's all about being involved as a patient.

Absolutely. And I think it's helping patients know what questions to ask when to ask questions to just know that they should be asking questions and that usually gets a discussion going. I think there's things industry can do around here too. And I know that one of the big hurdles for industry is actually finding the patients to talk to. And that doesn't seem like it should be hard but it really is. I just had a discussion yesterday with some colleagues who want to do patient engagement. They want to talk to patients but they're struggling getting to the patients themselves. There's actually a group out there called the savvy co-op and they are the Match.com of patients and pharma. What they do is they allow pharma to put gig's out there or want ads for patients and these can range from focus groups or interviews or surveys through to actually recruiting for clinical trials and what they've done is created a a marketplace there a virtual marketplace. You go to a savvy co-op and you can find that marketplace you can host what you wanted you from the industry side and patients will respond to it. They've set this up so that the patients are actually the members of the co-op and therefore any profits or reimbursements or anything that come through are shared among those patients. And it actually pays them for the valuable information that they're providing.

That's pretty cool.

It's really cool.

So Kevin tell us a little bit about how you and your organization honestly you guys are doing a lot there but as you've been putting together these these resources and even with your experience are at Pfizer maybe a setback that you had that you learned a lot from.

So I've got two of those. I probably have more than two but there's two that I'm thinking of. The first one is that one of the successes I had in my career was established is on me called Pfizer research university where we turned the experts in various parts of our entry into teachers we supported them we gave them everything that they needed to go out and teach other people in the company what they knew and this was a hard play at knowledge management at the time to get what was stuck in people's heads out to other people's heads so they could use it and it was very successful for about five years. Executive leadership was behind us they did videos for us. They thought we were fantastic and they thought we were so fantastic. They kept telling us "Don't waste your time trying to measure your impact. It's too hard we know in our hearts you guys are doing good stuff for us. So just keep doing more." Well that was great until executive leadership changed when we went through a couple of mergers and the budgets got tighter and then everyone was coming around saying "So, what are you guys worth?" And so we were absorbed into a learning and organizational effectiveness group and slowly dismantle and it was a pretty trying time because you know people lost their jobs about this and it was kind of like what happened here. Everybody thought we were great. And what I learned is if you're going to do something like this you have to define your value proposition and then you have to put the metrics in place so you can back up that promise because somebody later is going to ask what have you done for me lately. And one return on investment is the topic of discussion. All the good intentions and warm Fuzzy's in the world aren't going to help you.

It's a great call out.

The other failure that I'd like to talk to is something that actually threw me into this work and really kind of motivates me through it and it was a meeting that we had. I was working on a team I was the project manager so I was leading our all hands meeting for the year and we had brought in some patients. And these were patients who were destined to die because there was no treatment for their disease and we were working on one. And they came and they poured their hearts out to us. They were fantastic. They told us so much about their lives and what they were looking for. And we all sat there silent and they started looking at us like what's wrong with you guys. And I just couldn't take it anymore so I spoke up and I explained to them that we had heard everything that they said what we were under some corporate restrictions. Confidentiality, legal issues compliance issues to not talk about our work in too much detail and therefore it's kind of an awkward situation to have a discussion and then I try to explain to them and reassure them that the people who were sitting in this room were dedicating at least the next five years of their life to helping them. And that's one of my colleagues turned around. She had tears in her eyes and she basically barked at me. Don't say that to these people. They don't have five years. And what that taught me are what that drives me for is you know you think you're helping what you've actually got to put yourself really in those other people's shoes and think about what are those words going to do when it hits them. It also it's like a mantra we don't have five years. We've got to be urgent about this. We've got to move quickly for people who have no treatment now to find something that will help them and improve and extend their lives.

And that's a great message Kevin and yeah definitely a situations where when you really put the shoes of your patient on you really have to realize that hey you know some people are just around the corner from this is it. And so a great story, a great take away there. How about on the other side of things, Kevin - one of your proudest medical leadership experience is.

So this is really interesting because another part of my life is that I'm really active in our church. And I do a lot of missionary work short term missionary work and I work with our youth and about 10 years ago we had gone up to Anchorage Alaska with a group of young people from from our church in Connecticut and we were there to serve people who were in poverty and homeless. And we found ourselves working in a food bank greeting the clients. We were there to make them feel at home while they waited for their turn to go get their food. And I struck up a conversation with wonder the more he was isolated and he was a scary individual just the way he looked and the persona that he was trying to put out there. Very dark, very strong. Don't talk to me but I said I'm going to go talk to this guy. Turns out he was a great guy. He was to use a marshmallow. Really really lovely guy but he had a lot of issues that he was dealing with including several mental health issues. So as we're finishing our conversation unless I did with all these people I asked them "Hey can I pray for something specific for you?" And he said "Oh that would be great. Could you pray for my kids. And you could you pray that I get my stuff enough together that I can be with my kids again." And then he goes "I had this prayer of thanks." And he said, "I just started this new drug. It's called Geodon. And it's changed my life." What he didn't know is that I actually worked on the Geodon development team. And for me this was like this huge intersection of two things in my life coming together. It's like wow. And so I told him that and he just looked at me and he said "thank you." And then we both kind of broke down in tears and I have to tell you that that moment that thank you. That realization of what you're actually doing in somebody's life provided enough inspiration for me to push through whatever obstacles were in front of me since. It's one of those areas where you just go back and think I want more moments like that where people can just say thank you.

That's awesome. I mean completely unexpected but sort of full circle to the work that you're doing there Kevin and very inspiring story totally get why you're doing what you're doing today. What would you say within sale smokes what's the most exciting project or focus you guys are working on today?

So we've got a couple of things going on. We're building some e-learning programs that are coming to fruition should be out this fall and those are coming together really well. I'm excited about it because we reached out to patients and asked them what would you want to learn about medicine's development. In my mind you go do a course on medicines development it starts with the basics. There's discovery clinic, preclinical, clinical phases, registration and you know what all that means. They didn't want to go there. They wanted to jump behind and jump ahead to how are those decisions made? What are the decisions that go into it? So we're building a course right now that talks about the decisions that are made. Who makes those decisions the factors that they're weighing and who else actually influence those decisions. The goal is that for these patients and their caregivers and their advocates to be able to go in and know where the influence points are and have a better better success rate at influencing how those processes are going. And if you know anything about drug development the decisions are myriad. So there's plenty of room there. The other thing we have is a case study that's about an eight week course and it's very interactive very learner lead. It's a case study that keeps twisting along the way and at each stage the team that's doing in the cohort that's doing it need to discuss with each other what do we know what don't we know what questions do we have and then they assign each other kind of a research project to answer those questions and they go off in between sessions and they come back and teach each other what they learned and then the case twists again and they go through that process and they repeat it and repeat it repeat it. And what's amazing about this is this is exactly what research and development teams do. They look at what they have. They look at the information they go Well here's the question we need to know this and they figure out an experiment go to the experimenter run a study or whatever it is they need to to answer that question and then they come back and teach each other. So what we're trying to do there is provide these these patients the knowledge skills and confidence through practice, practice, practice by giving them a feel for what it's like to be on a team and wrestling with the issues and making the decisions they'll be able to step into a team with a pharma company somewhere and be very well qualified to engage in the discussions.

Love it Kevin. Some great work here and kudos to you for empowering the patient to get that voice put out there so that the in the end that the drug that bear gets put out is one that's most beneficial to them and in turn enables the drug companies to deliver much greater values. I think it's sort of a win-win there. Let's pretend you and I are building a medical leadership course on what it takes to be successful in medicine today. The 101 of Kevin. And we're going to build this out pretty quickly here four questions followed by a book that you recommend to the listeners. You ready?

Absolutely.

Alright. What's the best way to improve healthcare outcomes.

This isn't difficult it's to talk to the patients and make the effort to bridge the gaps in their language or their education or their circumstances. You need to see them as people first and then people who have disorders. This whole idea of participatory medicine increasing healthcare literacy which is another soapbox I could get on and partnering with patients and rnd all fit into this. Talk to those patients as people and respect what they're saying.

What's the biggest mistake or a pitfall to avoid?

I think and I find this all the time is that it's assuming that people actually know what you're talking about when you use jargon and technical language or science. Some of us in the business forget how much we've learned over the years and decades and we need to step back and realize just how arcane our languages and how we fill it with shortcuts that really aren't shortcuts for people that don't know what they're listening to. So these patients and the policymakers and business people everybody is really smart. But you know what. They just don't know how to understand our experts speaking in tongues we need to step back and mesh our language with theirs so that we're sure that they understood what we were talking about.

How do you stay relevant Kevin in an organization despite constant change?

Well this is a great question for us because we're trying to establish our relevance we're trying to get out there and make ourselves now. So we're doing this through active listening it's on social media, it's at conferences, it's working one on one with people you know I think that it's an old saw from Stephen Covey Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. But seek first to understand. And so I always whenever I'm in a conversation even right now listening to you Saul, I want to listen and always take something from a conversation that teaches me something new.

Love that, what's one area of focus that should drive everything in an organization of healthcare?

So for us it's equipping the patients and the people around them. We want to give them whatever they need to be more effective, more influential and more successful. I think that for other parts of healthcare similar needs are there. What did those patients need to be successful in becoming healthier? What does if they become healthier then society becomes healthier. But how do we help those patients take some ownership of it?

What book would you recommend to the listeners?

So I mentioned my my short term missionary work so I've got to put a plug in for the Bible I'm not going to talk a lot about that. I just encourage you to read it. The other two books I'd like to talk about. One is called Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. It's a historical piece about Louise Ann Perrine who is an Olympic athlete who was taken prisoner after being shot down in the kiss over the Pacific in World War II. It's not exactly work related but the struggles he faced and the grit he showed as a PW roughly parallels but completely dwarfs the tenacity needed to bring medicines to market. And it just was an inspiring book. The other one that's very directly related to what I do and I think is in court and for people to read is summer's complaint by Laura Kiger. It's a great discussion of how a family dealt with a rare genetic disorder familial Adenomatous highly Pozos FHP. She went back several generations and uncovered the records of her ancestors who had died early but never had a diagnosis. Each of her stories is unique and the only thing it shared was that they had this complaint. You know this is something that their stomachs their G.I. systems were always in pain and always giving them problems so they had this complaint but they had no known cause. And so as science advanced they learned what was happening and they learned how to deal with it she told each of their stories though so what it taught me a lot about is how each person's journey is different and unique and therefore we need to approach them as individuals and find out where they're at and meet them where they're at and I think that everyone in healthcare can learn something important from that in reading this book.

Great recommendation Kavin folks you can get while the show notes, book recommendations as well as our full transcript of our discussion today with Kevin just go to outcomesrocket.health/Salem as in Salem consulting. Kevin, getting close to the end here. This has been a lot of fun. You can just share a closing thought with the listeners. And then the best place where they can get in touch with you for collaboration.

Sure. So as I mentioned before in the early days of this shift the balance of power knowledge and health care this is going to require a change on many fronts. So from patients and families it's time to learn about the system and your particular disease. If you want to get involved get educated for health care professionals look for ways to bring your patients into the conversation. Make them part of the team. And for biopharma it's in their best interest to help patients understand how medicines come to be and help them become key players on their teams. Throw some of their weight even funding behind educational efforts that the disease foundations and patient advocacy organizations are developing. Just imagine what you could do if the organizations could provide you with a consistent source of engaged and effective, empowered and educated patients advisory decision making and your own teams. And if you want to reach us you can get us at www.salemoaks.com. You can follow us on Twitter @salemoaks or send me an email at kevin@salemoaks.com.

Outstanding Kevin, hey this has been a true pleasure. It's great to spend some time focused on patient centered care especially around drug development. You guys are doing some really cool stuff. Keep up the awesome work and really appreciate your making time with us today.

Thanks Saul. Thanks again for giving us a chance to share our work at Salem Oaks.

Hey Outcomes Rocket friends, thanks for tuning in to the podcast once again. As a leader in health care, you have big ideas, great products, a story to tell, and are looking for ways to improve your reach and scale your business. However there's one tiny problem. Health care is tough to navigate and the typical sales cycle is slow. That's why you should consider starting your own podcast as part of your sales and marketing strategy. At the Outcomes Rocket, I've been able to reach thousands of people every single month that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to reach if I had not started my podcast. Having this organic reach enables me to get the feedback necessary to create a podcast that delivers value that you are looking for. And the same thing goes if you start a podcast for what you could learn from your customers. The best thing about podcasting in healthcare is that we are currently at the ground level, meaning that the number of people in healthcare listening to podcasts is small but growing rapidly. I put together a free checklist for you to check out the steps on what it takes to create your own podcast. You could find that at outcomesrocket.health/podcast. Check it out today and find a new way to leverage the sales, marketing and outcomes of your business. That's outcomesrocket.health/podcast.

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