Thoughtful analysis of market data and customer insights allows local biotech company to stay focused on the needs of patients
Relentless, early and often data collection and insight generation allowed BioCryst to anticipate and strategically leverage information for the good of patients -- a true competitive advantage and foundation for company success.Posted — Updated
BioCryst, a Durham-based biotech company that focuses on oral drugs for rare and serious diseases, is rapidly growing across the globe. As the company undergoes this immense expansion, its leadership has instilled the importance of staying true to the aspects it values most — one of these being the importance of putting patients first in all areas of the business.
This patient focus is a key driver for the Strategic Data Insights & Operations team at BioCryst. Thoughtful collaborations and partnerships with this team — from clinical programs in the pipeline to various global launches — have proved to be a critical competitive advantage for BioCryst.
“It is our responsibility to really understand these communities of patients and the people who are caring for them, particularly as we're getting closer to a drug launch. Then we align across the company on ways we can translate these insights into action for these patients,” said Alex Tilley, executive director of Global Analytics & Strategic Operations at BioCryst. “It’s a data-driven approach, which enables us to share information with colleagues who can then turn insights into actions.”
While Tilley and his team focus on using quantitative data to inform the company’s strategy and operations, the Insights & Competitive Intelligence team is where the feedback from patients and physicians begins and is continually refined.
“It's a lot of active listening and making sure early on that you're connected to the patients and connected to the physicians in terms of what they're doing and why they're doing it. Empathy and an ability to be curious are two traits that naturally help us there,” said Alex Sherman, director of Insights & Competitive Intelligence at BioCryst.
Tilley and Sherman recently combined their expertise to help BioCryst with its first rare disease product launch.
“In the lead up to launch, we did as much learning as we possibly could from everyone who had come before us — so we got a solid understanding of the science, the space and any published research. This allowed us to set the stage for what we'd be diving into and where we needed to meet patients in their journey,” said Sherman. “When we did go out and speak with them, we started with high-level, one-on-one interviews in which we learned about their experience with their current treatment regimen and what sort of changes could represent a meaningful improvement in their lives. We leaned into listening to everyone’s stories.”
From there, Tilley’s team leveraged those insights to further progress the product launch.
“Picking up and learning from a lot of that research, we used those learnings to understand how to provide individual support for patients. As we were preparing for launch, we tried to look through the eyes of the patient to put a lot of thought into how individualized patients are and how we could provide support and care for them — because it’s going to be different for every person,” said Tilley. “The big thing has been not just having the data, but also the infrastructure to support these data and understand what's going on in real-time to enable us to make quick adjustments. It’s a constant feedback loop through reporting and thoughtful software solutions that helps us evolve.”
Breaking down barriers to access was and is a key focus of the data collection and trial process. By fact-finding directly with patients, the teams at BioCryst have been able to identify barriers that even some physicians may not have realized were an issue.
By applying more nontraditional approaches to its first rare disease product launch, the company has experienced success and growth thus far.
“We’ve tried to think about how we can look outside of the ‘norm’ within pharma and biotech and apply things like behavioral science to the process. We connect data from different sources and try to be very thoughtful about these things, pulling it all together to create a more holistic picture, then using that information internally to inform the ongoing evolution of the launch,” said Tilley. “It helps the organization make better decisions, but also ultimately helps things remain centered on the needs of patients.”
Another sign that BioCryst is prioritizing the role that data and analytics have in its operations can be seen in the recent appointment of Jinky Rosselli to chief data and insights officer – the newest member of the company’s leadership team.
“With many companies, data and insights are a mere ‘box check’ or an afterthought, and not fully leveraged for company decision making. BioCryst leads with data and insights across the entire organization,” said Rosselli. “We believe in the integrity of data to anchor our insights across our clinical programs, commercial programs, employee programs and through commercialization of our pipeline. We believe this commitment to data and insights is a key competitive advantage to the success of not only our medicines available in the market today but also our pipeline.”
In looking to the future, Tilley added, “If we meet the needs of patient communities, we're going to succeed as a company. We have a culture of curiosity, which means not everything that we do will succeed. There may be some challenges along the way, but as long as we keep the needs and lives of the individuals and patient communities we serve at the center of what we do, I believe we’ll be successful in our mission to develop and deliver novel medicines for rare diseases so patients can be empowered in their everyday activities.”
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