Closing the Gap Between Production and Patient

Closing the Gap Between Production and Patient

When you work at a production facility, the end user of the product sometimes seems far away. Employees at Novo Nordisk’s manufacturing site in Clayton are working together to change this.
Novo Nordisk employees at the local JDRF One Walk, October 2014

Novo Nordisk employees at the local JDRF One Walk, October 2014

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How to better understand what it’s like to live w/ #diabetes? See how our #US colleagues increase patient focus
Tuesday, June 30, 2015 - 11:00am

CAMPAIGN: The TBL Quarterly

CONTENT: Article

Located in Clayton, North Carolina lies a building where every day insulin crystals are mixed with chemical stabilisers and ultra-pure water to form different kinds of treatment options for people living with diabetes in North America, Europe, Brazil, Egypt and China.

The building is also workplace for more than 700 people. According to Amy Bryson, communications partner at Novo Nordisk’s manufacturing site in Clayton, they know all there is to know about the production process – quality assurance of the raw materials, aseptic filling of glass vials and cartridges and correct packaging of the finished products – you name it.

“People know all about the engineering process but they did not get an opportunity to understand the patient’s experience with the product and what it is like to live with diabetes," says Amy. She recalls an event when a colleague from the US headquarters came to Clayton to do a presentation on the diabetes market, and where one reaction from the technical support staff said it all: “You know more about our products than we do, and we make the stuff!”

And then the ball started rolling.

Getting closer to the patient

Amy gathered a group of colleagues and began brainstorming ways that they could increase knowledge among employees about the different products made at the site, and how they impact patients differently. She then drafted a communication plan to increase patient focus and product education throughout the year.

“We wanted to show tangible examples of what it is like to have diabetes from the narrative of a patient and give employees a clearer understanding of how Novo Nordisk's products benefit people living with diabetes,” she explains.

Amy’s plan called for six patient focus and product education sessions covering topics such as basics about the disease, patient stories and videos, and a presentation of the entire product portfolio. So far, the sessions have had 440 attendees. Amy highlights that the activities not only help to close the gap between production and patient, but also strengthen the site’s quality mindset and the importance of adhering to standards and codes of conduct to ensure product quality and patient safety. After viewing the patient video, one of Amy’s colleagues responded that “it must simply be impossible not to behave in the right way after watching this video.”

But the work does not stop there. For team Clayton, patient focus is literally about walking the talk.

A walk with one goal

As part of the efforts, Amy and her colleague Sharon Pastirik, who is the chairman of the site’s Social Responsibility Committee and Sean Neally, Director and JDRF One Walk Champion, organised for JDRF* to come and talk about their work. JDRF is the leading global organisation funding type 1 diabetes research. This was also an opportunity to encourage employees to fundraise and participate in the local JDRF One Walk, which Novo Nordisk’s manufacturing site in Clayton has participated in since 1996.

Each year, JDRF One Walks bring together more than 900,000 people and raises more than USD 68 million for type 1 diabetes research**. The overriding goal is to create a world without type 1 diabetes.

“We had a kickoff event where children of employees who have type 1 diabetes came and talked about what it is like living with diabetes. Their fathers talked about how meaningful it is to work at the site that makes their child’s life-saving medicine. It was very moving to hear their testimony,” Amy recalls.

At the local JDRF One Walk hosted on 25 October, over 240 Novo Nordisk employees and family members turned up, a site record and more than doubling last year’s attendance. In total, more than 6,000 people from the area participated in the walk. And the manufacturing site was able to raise USD 13,400 – making Novo Nordisk one of the top five fundraisers for the area and smashing the USD 10,000 goal set by the site’s Social Responsibility Committee.

When competition is thrown out the window

Novo Nordisk chemist, Jienna Pope, was one of the 240 taking part in the October walk. She singlehandedly raised USD 1,000 to support type 1 diabetes research.

“My uncle has type 1 diabetes but found out at a late age and struggled to get control of it until recently,” says Jienna. “I also have a very good friend who has a 4-year-old son with the disease, and it rocked her world. Supporting an event that could change his life and my uncle’s life is very rewarding.”

Jienna has so far participated in three JDRF walks. She also believes that the walks help her become more patient centred because it gives her an opportunity to hear first-hand how diabetes affects patients’ lives and to see how the support gives them hope for a better future. And each year she is positively surprised by the large turnout.

“Some of my best memories from the JDRF One Walks are the unity. Competition is thrown out the window, and we all come together to support a great cause. I remember my 3-year-old son asking me why so many people were there. I told him what JDRF was and what everyone was doing and he said ‘mama, that’s cool’. All I could do was smile and say ‘yeah that’s cool’.”


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* Formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

** For more information, see