Pfizer is the winner of the 2021 SAMA Excellence Award™ for “Innovative Value Co-Creation.” The winners of the 2022 Excellence Awards will be announced at the SAMA Annual Conference May 23-25 in New Orleans.
By Emily Williams, Strategic Account Manager, Pfizer
This is the story of how I led a project with my integrated account team to support a process for a key customer to efficiently and effectively triage appropriate patients out of the emergency department so that they could receive proper outpatient care. Many patients could be eligible for effective outpatient management. Supporting this long-time customer in working through this pain point required leveraging our deep knowledge of both the customer’s business and wider healthcare trends to first catalyze the customer to address this specific business challenge and then to leverage our executive-level stakeholder contacts to help bring all the relevant pieces into alignment.
The customer in this case is a large, U.S. health system. Past attempts by the customer to solve this challenge involved engaging both hospital staff and primary care leadership. However, this lacked a standardized hand-off process for ensuring continuity of care for patients after transitioning across care settings. After being treated in a hospital or a primary care setting, a patient’s only option for post-visit management often would be via a specialist. This resulted in frequent patient no-shows and a backlog for follow-up appointments. While this customer’s staff demonstrated both passion and expertise, to make this process a reality, they needed a project focused on innovative thinking, data-driven insights, stakeholder connectivity and patient/provider resources.
The customer’s solution: a new patient care process for diverting lower-risk patients from the emergency department for immediate follow-up to an outpatient management clinic. This option led to the creation of a systematic, standardized workflow through education, while better allowing for timely assessments.
How the project became a reality
Making the business case. The first hurdle we needed to clear was to convince the customer that, among all the pressing challenges it faces (including, but not limited to, the pandemic), this specific problem was worth devoting its time and resources to solve. To do this, my team and I had to bring meaningful data that showcased the impact of the disease burden in the national market and in the customer’s health system.
Engaging my multidisciplinary team of internal colleagues – including medical, marketing and information technology amongst ourselves – to brainstorm potential opportunities that could be presented to the customer was critical. This process led the medical team to deliver key benchmark data and registry insights that highlighted drivers of unnecessary utilization of healthcare resources.
Aligning the internal team and defining desired outcomes. First, my internal cross-functional team and I worked strategically to align and collaborate with the customer leadership around project goals and a process for the customer to achieve those goals.
Anticipating challenges. Next, the Pfizer team worked with the customer’s leadership, including its chief of population health, vice president of medical affairs, medical director, and the advanced practice provider lead, to provide data insights and subject-matter expertise to help the customer understand potential gaps in care and need for prioritization.
Command and control. I relied upon my project management expertise to support the customer in its system gap analysis that leveraged Pfizer insights to help the customer’s executive leadership better understand and organize its available resources while helping to keep the project on task efficiently and effectively.
Identifying gaps. My team and I identified gaps in the process that would later help the customer shape its workflow and resource development.
Creating a new care process. The customer took the lead in integrating a guideline-based assessment tool into the workflow for individual outpatient clinics and system-wide use. This was intended to ensure consistent identification of patients who might qualify for care in the outpatient setting.
Stakeholder management. My team and I led the internal mind-mapping of the customer’s stakeholders. This required coordinating all internal and external stakeholders during regularly scheduled project check-ins while also connecting leadership to stakeholders outside the project for expansion across ambulatory care settings.
Patient/clinician education. With support from the Pfizer marketing lead, we developed educational materials for patients and providers on the disease state that could be shared with patients.
Before executing the project, we had to decide, with the customer, how we would collectively measure success. To keep it simple, we aligned on primary metrics, which included results of the assessment scores.
The results so far for the customer, patients, and Pfizer have been extremely promising. Both the customer and Pfizer saw an increase in chronic disease awareness, assessments, and appropriate outpatient management.
Emily Williams is a key account manager at Pfizer, specializing in internal medicine. You can find her on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ emily-williams-mha-pcmh-cce-d-ha-student-27a6355/
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