We are very excited to add Linda Deal to the ERT family as the new Senior Director of Health Outcomes Research. Having worked inside sponsor organizations and across a number of entities within the PRO community, Linda brings insight and perspective on the creation and implementation of Patient, Clinician and Observer reported outcomes.
A personal interview with Linda Deal:
Linda, how long have you been in this industry?
“I’ve been in the Pharma Industry since 1997, 14 years! The majority, 12 years, has been on the Sponsor side.”
What do you enjoy most about it?
“This is easy. Let me start by saying that for me, the best in life is people and the most important thing in life is being understood. My career affords me the privilege to make understood some very deserving people, the patients suffering illness. I work very hard to represent the patient experience in the complicated process of bringing safe and efficacious therapy to those in need. That’s what gets me out of bed every morning!”
Can you tell us about your past experiences in health outcomes research?
“Absolutely. At Janssen Pharma (a division of Johnson & Johnson), as the Immunology Patient Reported Outcomes Lead, my primary responsibility was developing and integrating the PRO strategy within the end to end development process. Prior to J&J, I was head of the PRO Center in Global Health Outcomes Assessment at Wyeth Research, which is now Pfizer. I have also supported health economics and outcomes research for Wyeth, Research Triangle Institute, and Glaxo Wellcome. Also, throughout my career, I have designed a number of assessments now used in clinical trials as well as prepared over 20 regulatory briefing documents addressing PRO development and validation for supporting registration and labeling.”
In your opinion, what makes a great vendor?
“A great vendor is a partner that listens and can anticipate my needs providing experience and insights that assist in meeting my objectives. And, of course, a great vendor delivers a quality product/service on time, managing my expectations if necessary.”
What will your role be at ERT?
“In general, I’m here to provide scientific input into the technology solutions that ERT offers to clients for collecting outcomes data that will eventually meet the clients intended purpose for the data. I anticipate that there will be an educational component to the role as well.”
Where do you see the direction of health outcomes heading in the future?
“Now and in the future, Health Outcomes will play a central role in Sponsor organizations. Since the release of regulatory guidance addressing the development and use of patient-reported outcomes, we’ve begun to see specific areas of expertise within health outcomes emerge in the larger and more innovative sponsor organizations. What used to be a single generalist role is being parsed out into multiple specialized roles.
The patient and payers are being recognized and addressed as stakeholders in addition to physicians. The specialization required to demonstrate value and measure subjective outcomes is becoming necessary to stay on the competitive edge in this industry. These are exciting times for health outcomes scientists.”
How do you plan to play a role in shaping this space?
“I see my role in shaping this space as one of education and communication. The health outcomes community has done a great job of organizing and spurring scientific advancements within our community. I’d like us to reach out beyond our community to educate our clinical, biostatistics, regulatory and operations colleagues on the importance and relevance of our science. Some still don’t appreciate health outcomes as a science. I’d like to see that change. How is it that I’ve been doing this for 13 years and am still asked, “What do you folks in health outcomes do?”
I’d also like to see us balance the scientific refinements of our methods with the practicality of the tasks at hand. I’d like to play a role in prioritizing our scientific focus based upon the return on our efforts to the patients, physicians, caregivers and payers….sort of reminding the team to keep their eye on the ball.”
Do you participate in any charity or volunteer work? If so, which is the most important to you?
“Yes, there is a wonderful program called “Communities in Schools”. With cooperation from employers, employees can volunteer a couple of hours per week to young children in inner city schools who are having difficulty learning to read. These are kids who simply need someone to sit down and read to them, pointing and sounding out words. It’s very rewarding to see a child learn to read.
I once had a proposal from a 6 year old! He even had a ring for me. I still have that and wear it once in a while. I told him that if I wasn’t married when he grew up and he still wanted to marry me, then I definitely would do it!”
What is your favorite vacation destination and why?
“There is no single destination that is a favorite. I like to go any place that is culturally exotic. I’m a true social scientist. I enjoy observing and trying to experience the way of life of others. No Club Med for me.”
What is your favorite motto?
“There is more than one. The first is to “begin with the end in mind”. Have an idea of where you’re going before you take the driver’s seat.
In the context of bringing novel and innovative therapies to market, I can be very persistent and impassioned about representing the patient perspective. That can create a bit of irritation with my clinical and biostatistics colleagues. I often find myself reminding them that “it’s the minor irritation that creates the pearl!” When I insist, it’s always with the intention of delivering a better product/therapy.
In the case of evaluating the merits of an Outcomes Instrument’s ability to measure what it is purported to measure. The motto I recognize is that, “It’s better to be generally correct, than to be precisely wrong [in what you’re measuring]”. So, I give greater weight to accuracy than precision.”
Thank you Linda! Have your own questions for Linda? Feel free to leave a comment below!