Day in the Life: Putting Patients First, Each and Every Day

Many patients face challenges when trying to access and manage treatments. Director Allison Furniss has made it her mission to help them.

Meet a leader advocating for patients’ needs daily 

Join us on a typical day in the life of an AbbVie employee making an impact around the clock. We follow Allison Furniss, director of commercial programs operations. As a director who works closely with the patient services team, Allison understands the health care landscape is complex and dynamic and can, for many patients, be stressful to navigate. She helps patients overcome this challenge by working across teams to execute patient support programs.

My husband, daughter and I have this tradition of having breakfast together every day, regardless of what day of the week it is. Some days breakfast is just a quick granola bar before running out the door, but when we get more time together, we’ll usually have eggs. Afterward, my daughter heads to school and I get ready for work.

On my way out I catch a glimpse of my flowers – I always keep flowers in my home. They remind me of the time I worked in a flower shop years ago. As a florist you see people at their highest and at their lowest. They’re either celebrating something wonderful like the birth of a child or a wedding, or dealing with an illness or loss of a loved one. Being with people during those intimate moments really helped me to be more understanding as a human being, which is a quality I’ve carried throughout my career in health care.

My team motivates me daily. I’m always impressed by how we rally together to support patients. We’re a close-knit group and feel comfortable enough with each other to share our thoughts and ideas on how to build better solutions. We also regularly meet for lunch to just enjoy each other’s company and make a point to celebrate each other’s birthdays with lunch, cake and heartfelt cards.

Most days, I’m in meetings with teams across Patient Services. We come together to understand patients’ challenges and create programs tailored to support them. Our patient support programs leverage a lot of different resources – including educational materials; clinical and insurance experts; savings cards and other solutions for accessing treatment; and digital tools that help patients understand and adhere to their prescribed treatment plan.

To ensure our programs are successful, there’s a lot of communication, education, and advocacy that takes place across our teams. For example, I meet often with our care model strategy team to help guide how support programs are designed. I also work closely with our access support team, which includes insurance specialists who work directly with patients. Together we work on lining up the systems needed to execute new programs.

Today we have a planning meeting, which we have every time a new product launches or a new indication for a product is approved by the FDA. In the meeting, multiple teams come together to understand the patients who are living with a particular disease and anticipate the challenges they might face. Patient experiences are all unique depending on the disease, the type of insurance coverage they have and the type of therapy they’re using. We have to understand these friction points to be able to design solutions that are relevant and useful to them.

After my meeting I have a quick lunch followed by a weekly staff meeting with our operation leads. We talk about the IT processes needed to launch a new patient support program. Across our programs, we use a lot of different technologies, including apps that remind patients of appointments and provide shipping alerts. Communication is critical to ensure our teams know how to build these tools correctly.

I like ending my days the same way I start them – with my family. So, after heading home from work, and doing a quick ride on my Peloton to help me unwind, I like to eat dinner with my family. Then we usually walk around our neighborhood; we love to take our new puppy out with us and throw the ball around.

Thinking back to when I started at AbbVie, it felt like the most exciting time in my career. And, now five years later, the feeling hasn’t changed – it’s still the most exciting time in my career. Working at a company that’s patient-centric and having the opportunity to advocate for patients daily is so rewarding.

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