Spotlight interview: 15 minutes on healthcare communications in gene therapy

Written by Gavin Jones on Monday 20th January 2020

Gavin Jones, Director of Rare Disease, OPEN Health takes 15 minutes to answer some key questions on healthcare communications in gene therapy

1. Why is the commercialisation of Gene Therapy and other Advanced Therapeutic Medicinal Products (ATMPs) such a hot topic in Healthcare now?

It is an exciting and interesting time with many ATMPs being launched over the next few years. For me, this heralds the ‘industrialisation’ of advanced therapies as hundreds, rather than a handful of people who could be eligible to benefit. 

There is a huge amount of promise in this field with early evidence suggesting that patients could well become ‘chronically well’ following treatment. This offers huge promise to patients where often there hasn’t been any disease modifying treatment up until now. Given the personalised nature of ATMPs they will inevitably come with a high price tag and new diagnostic, referral and treatment pathways will need to be designed alongside robust manufacturing and logistical processes. 

This all means that the stakes are very high to create sustainable models that will enable the maximum number of patients and health systems to benefit from the outcomes these innovative therapies potentially offer.

2. Why are OPEN Health so invested in this space?

OPEN Health prides itself on offering broad, multi-discipline and leading global healthcare communications. Given the stakes and challenges described above we believe that world class communications will be required at every stage of development and commercialisation; we think can truly make a difference and have impact for our clients. Our patient, medical and value communications practices collaborate very effectively, and I coordinate our combined approach to ensure we truly meet the needs of our clients and the patients they are striving to serve.

3. What experience has OPEN Health had with ATMP commercialisation?

We have worked with around half of the ATMPs that have already been launched globally. This experience is across our practices and provides us with a very good understanding of what has worked well, highlighting some of the key learnings to date. These include ensuring productive engagement with healthcare professionals (HCPs) across the referral pathway, ensuring clinical data is backed up with quality evidence to demonstrate the value of treating patients and the long-term benefit experienced.

4. So you are confident OPEN Health are set to support outcomes?

The experience provides us with the confidence that we can deliver for our clients. However, I hope we also come with the humility that we are all learning together on this exciting journey. To accelerate our learning we have created a ‘solutions incubator’. This brings together experienced people from across our communications practices to workshop key challenges and opportunities, creating innovative solutions. It has been a pleasure working with such an experienced and committed team, we are excited to undertake further programmes to support the introduction of other ATMPs.

5. Please give us an example output of the ATMP ‘solutions incubator’?

We acknowledged early that regulators are stipulating patients who should be followed up for an unprecedented period to confirm the safety and durability of ATMPs. Novel reimbursement mechanisms will also require the need for sustained outcomes monitoring and follow up post treatment initiation. 

The challenge will be that patients, over a long time period, will change healthcare settings and go through numerous life changes (including hopefully having significantly improved health) creating disconnecting points that will impact on registry and outcomes monitoring programmes.

We brought all our communications capabilities to create a model that utilises a technology platform (web-based application) as the foundation to our solution. This creates a data collection tool that offer minimal friction to regularly input, on top of that we supercharged the platform with exceptional patient and HCP communications to support sustained retention. We also recognised that exceptional global project management capabilities will be essential to deliver a complex, multi-stakeholder programme like this.

6. What are your aspirations for OPEN Health in this field?

I am delighted to be leading our approach, giving our full commitment to deliver for our clients launching an ATMP. I hope we can play our part in ensuring as many patients as possible have access to these potentially life changing treatments.

We believe we have the experience and capabilities to make impact alongside the flexibility to evolve and learn with our partners along the way. Having the opportunity to play our part in making a real difference to patients, whilst creating positive outcomes for our clients is really exciting for us.


For information about OPEN Health’s services and how we could support you, please get in touch.


Visit our careers page to view opportunities at OPEN Health.