Crisis, what crisis …?
The healthcare and life sciences sector is arguably one of the riskiest sectors to operate in, with any number of issues that could occur, from patient safety in clinical trials to manufacturing, regulatory to product.
However, whilst presenting to senior executives at the BIA CEO Investor Forum, it was surprising to find that despite this, only 10% of people in the room had a crisis plan at the ready. There is always a reason for putting non-essentials to the bottom of the work pile when you’re running a busy company, but crisis planning is not something to procrastinate about.
All businesses face risk; the minute people are involved, you have potential issues of financial, operational, HR or strategic risk. Layer on top of these “everyday” business issues, the “special” risks associated with the life sciences arena – and the impact that they could have on your product, patients, staff and reputation - the concerns that other sectors face rather fade into the background.
For instance, if a phase III clinical trial fails, a biotech company’s share price can dive by 75% or more, regardless of the full pipeline of other programmes; there is the constant risk of running out of cash which hangs over private and public biotech companies alike. Worst of all, what happens when a company’s drug causes terrible side effects or even kills someone? What would you do?
Thinking about and planning for tomorrow, both in a glass half full but also a glass empty way is well worth it for any business. Our advice is to put aside time to do this properly with all key members of your senior team. You’ll find it’s a lot easier to think about a crisis strategy before an issue arises than when all hell has broken loose in the middle of one.
One place to start is asking whether you have everyone’s out of hours contact details. It sounds basic, but if you had to get hold of key staff at 11.30pm on a Friday night, would you be able to? Who else would it be helpful to have access to at a crucial time e.g. KOLs, trade associations, your MP? Do you know who they are and have their contact details? Also, what would be the first thing you’d do if something went wrong …in this day and age of social media, instead of the ‘golden hour’, it’s more like the ‘golden five minutes’?At Instinctif Partners, we can help. We have an easy to use tool called CrisisOptic which poses a range questions about your business, where the risks might arise and which areas you need to think about. Once complete, your answers can help you to plan, prepare and practice.
Issues come in all shapes and sizes; the minor ones can be dealt within the usual course of business, however the major ones need proper forethought and planning, and sometimes a 24/7 support team. If you would like access to the Instinctif Partners CrisisOptic please get in contact with Melanie.Toyne-Sewell@instinctif.com.
Melanie Toyne-SewellManaging Partner