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Finding common ground around medication affordability

Co-creation workshops

Strategic facilitation

We often help our clients bring all the right voices to the table. But in this case, the real challenge was getting them to collaborate once they were there.

Our pharmacy client—planning a virtual summit for multiple Fortune 100 companies—wondered how (or even if!) they could get dozens of C-suite executives to co-create a vision for affordable medications. What if their carefully planned event turned out like a middle school dance—each clique in their own corner, nobody willing to speak first, the disco ball spinning over an empty dance floor?

Fortunately, we adapted traditional design thinking methods with tailored techniques to address the unique challenges of high-level leaders and run an interactive session that earned our client accolades from all sides.

Finding shared ground

With attendees in the room coming from different sides of a complex healthcare network, and some competitors coming from the same side of the network, we knew it would be critical to get them focused on a common goal.

Medication adherence and, more broadly, patient experience, were subjects every organization spoke to in their mission statements and annual priorities. We teed up our session with broad questions that got them agreeing with each other right away on the importance of removing barriers (like, say, cost) that kept patients from taking their medication as prescribed.

Sharing information and sharing the space

We knew from design thinking that it was critical to base any new ideas on solid research data. While each CEO and CIO in the room had their own team of analysts helping them understand their own company’s performance, no one was going to share that intelligence with competitors. So we created a simple infographic from our neutral outside research that helped ground the group in the importance of medication affordability without pointing fingers at any particular party for the dramatic rise in drug costs. Within minutes, everyone was grounded and ready to focus on ideation.

But now came the challenge of balancing power dynamics. Just as the captain of the football team and the lead in the school play have the ability to get everyone dancing or shut the whole event down, participation from a few “power players” needed to be carefully managed. Using our role as neutral facilitators, we amplified the newer, smaller, and quieter voices in the space while still engaging those with big titles from big organizations.

Sustaining momentum

As ideas began to flow, we facilitated the participants into structured activities that allowed them to consider and build on other participants’ viewpoints rather than just sharing “top of mind” ideas and moving on.

As we closed out our time together, participants were surprised by how quickly the time had passed and pleased at the collaborative tone and overall depth of the conversation. Our client was left with several concrete ideas that they could follow up on in the coming years to better facilitate price transparency and avoid surprises at the pharmacy counter that make patients think twice about taking their medications.