RARE feat Olivia Kager
Featuring in this episode of RARE is Olivia Kager, Medical Lead for the DACH region at Kyowa Kirin. Olivia has recently moved into a medical role, having spent a large portion of her career progressing throughout the commercial side of the pharmaceutical industry. In the interview, we discuss Olivia’s journey and the growing interaction between medical and commercial. It is important to note that the views expressed during the interview do not in any way reflect the views or the position of Kyowa Kirin.
Olivia is a physician by training and has a Bachelor in Corporate Management & Entrepreneurship. She is also a trained Coach focusing on career coaching and authentic leadership for Women in Business. Her professional journey has been a mixture of planning, coincidence, spontaneity, and luck. She initially wanted to become an artist but being open to exploration, Olivia ended up enrolling in Medicine. She met a former Med student who had transitioned into the industry and became intrigued and decided to give it a try.
Olivia started in Patient Services and then Medical, and had never thought about transitioning to Commercial, yet that is where she ended up spending a large part of her career. She has worked in different companies at a local and International level in roles of increasing responsibility and numerous functions, ranging from Patient Services to Medical, Marketing & Sales, with the largest part of her career focusing on Commercial roles in numerous therapeutic areas such as Neurology, Oncology, Rare Diseases, Immunology and Transplant.
Olivia then goes on to talk about how because she had started her career in patient services and then transitioned to Medical and having studied Medicine, these areas in the industry seemed to be the most natural fit, and it was important for her to stay close to the patient and the science. Her transition to Commercial came by chance when she was offered a position in the Oncology Business Unit of her previous company. Olivia was attracted to the field of Oncology itself and the opportunity to continue to grow, expand her skill set, and broaden her knowledge by experiencing a new department within the company. She naturally enjoys learning, so the challenge of entering an entirely new area in the business was intriguing, and the creative part of her she had left behind was attracted to the possibilities of creation in Commercial. On top of this, very early on, Olivia believed in developing transferrable skills and saw the opportunity in being able to take different perspectives and understand the interdependencies of different departments.
Olivia stayed in Commercial for a significant amount of time as she was continuously given learning and development opportunities within the function. Alongside this, she was also fascinated with the strategic work of understanding unmet patient and customer needs and driving behaviour changes to address these. She talks about enjoying bringing together the numerous cross-functional stakeholders to drive forward the strategy and vision of the brands she worked on. The broader picture of how that work interlinks with the overall business picture, how it can ultimately drive organizational decisions and direction, and how companies function in general was another piece that kept her on the Commercial path.
Olivia’s move back to Medical was a very personal decision driven by how she perceives and understands the value that she can bring to an organization on a day-to-day basis. She wanted to re-focus even more on the clinical, patient, and physician needs and work as a conduit to translate the insights from external stakeholders and share them inside the organization to influence and ensure everything the company does is focused on improving care and patient outcomes.
Olivia goes on to describe the pull of the opportunities to be part of shaping the patient journey in a positive manner. Medical teams exchange with a broad range of external partners, engaging with physicians and multiple other stakeholders involved in the patient pathway, such as nurses, caretakers, or advocacy groups. There is such power to the insights derived from these interactions, and they allow organizations to address current gaps and needs along the patient journey and also, to shape the future of care. An example of this is the impact of patient insights on health equity. As somebody who is actively involved in DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), the thought of being able to drive health equity by leveraging the rich information coming out of the work and collaboration with external stakeholders to increase diversity in clinical trials and data generation is something that feels incredibly exciting. Olivia continues to see this as a significant opportunity to drive meaningful change, which is something that is close to her heart.
Overall, Olivia felt like it was the right time to take the different experiences she has had so far on her journey and bring them back to her roots to shape and be part of what she believes will be an incredible future for Medical as the function continues to solidify its strategic position in the industry and becomes a key partner in improving patient outcomes – something Olivia finds extremely fulfilling.
Olivia continues, in the past few years, we have undergone a significant amount of change within the industry and the healthcare environment, accelerated by the global disruption brought on by the pandemic, resulting in a growing burden for our healthcare systems. Getting medicines approved is becoming increasingly challenging, and market access pressures are increasing. As we consider the evolving landscape that the industry is working in and as we are adapting to the new reality and new ways of working, we also need to consider the impact of all of this on patients, HCPs, and other decision-makers in the healthcare environment and reconsider how we approach them to meet their evolving needs and expectations.
Olivia adds, with an increased workload, global physician shortage growing, and administrative responsibilities growing, 80% of physicians are being stretched beyond their full capacity, limiting the time they can spend with the industry. With a growing number of treatment choices and the shift to value-based care, physicians turn to data. According to surveys, around 59% of HCPs regard technology-driven recommendations based on data, such as clinical trials and real-world data, as the most popular factor shaping their treatment decisions. There is an increased expectation for more clinical and evidence-based information. Further -as digitalization drives increased access to information, HCPs rely less on classical engagement forms for product information and look to the digital space to learn, share, and exchange using Technology as an enabler for meaningful collaboration. With limited time on their hands, they choose when and how they want to engage and seek more value from the meetings they take, expecting rapid responses and a seamless experience regardless of which part of the organization they are interacting with.
All of this points to the fact that we need to collaborate to a greater degree across the functions and fix the somewhat fragmented experience we are currently exposing our customers to. We need to develop a more holistic and individualized/personalized approach to engaging and collaborating with our customers. This requires close alignment, and the only way to do this is to break down internal silos between the functions, drive more joined-up thinking, and continue to expand our cross-functional ways of working to provide comprehensive value along the entire patient journey to the customers we work with.
But as the industry shifts to focus on how we can deliver value, we need to become more open and courageous in terms of how we achieve that by combining the best of both functions in a holistic engagement approach tailored to our customer's individual needs and focused on patients outcomes rather than individual functional goals. We need to be agile, innovate in a rapidly evolving engagement context, and continuously re-evaluate how we can optimize the experience for our customers and improve care for patients. It will require us to continue to look beyond the borders of functions. Olivia believes this will increase as we turn our ambition to customer and patient outcomes vs. internally focused ways of working and objectives. Making this work in a digital era of personalized engagement will set companies apart from their peers.
Olivia concludes, as these two functions move closer, and based on her own personal experience, she believes that it also provides an opportunity for continuous talent engagement, development, and retention as new generations learn a broad set of skills that will equip them for the future in a highly competitive job market.
Thank you Olivia for a great discussion, for taking part and sharing your views. If anyone has any follow-up questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at email@example.com.