Bristol-Myers Squibb invites patients to share their story with employees each year. Here, five patients visited the Tampa, Fla. office last year for Global Patient Week 2018.

Bristol-Myers Squibb invites patients to share their story with employees each year. Here, five patients visited the Tampa, Fla. office last year for Global Patient Week 2018.

Patients Are the Purpose

For one week each year employees assess the value of the work they do and its impact on patients

September 06, 2019

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hether they work in scientific research, marketing, human resources, information technology or accounting, all employees of Bristol-Myers Squibb play a role in helping the company work to create and deliver life-changing medicines.

But because most employees don’t work directly with patients, they never see first-hand how their contributions help people.

Patients share a moment with CEO Giovanni Caforio during a past Global Patient Week employee celebration in New Jersey.

Patients share a moment with CEO Giovanni Caforio during last year’s Global Patient Week employee celebration in New Jersey.

All of that changed four years ago after several employees came up with an idea to carve out time to celebrate those they serve. They had listened to patients speak at company meetings and after hearing their personal stories, they saw the corporate mission brought to life. 

Now Bristol-Myers Squibb hosts Global Patient Week every September to connect employees with patients and formally recognize these everyday heroes as a central focus of the corporate culture. The week-long employee event invites patients to Bristol-Myers Squibb facilities around the world to share their stories and meet the people who play a role in their very personal fight against disease. 

In fact, Global Patient Week reinforces what approximately 24,000 Bristol-Myers Squibb employees do every day throughout the year, in every function, in every office and in each country: keep patients at the center of their work.

“We come to work each day driven by our mission, acting with a sense of urgency for our patients and their families, because there is still so much more to do.” — Giovanni Caforio, Chairman and CEO
Bristol-Myers Squibb invites patient to visit its offices and speak to employees about their health journey. Tim Grimes, part of Global Patient Week 2018, autographs a poster in New Jersey.

Bristol-Myers Squibb invites patient to visit its offices and speak to employees about their health journey. Tim Grimes, part of Global Patient Week 2018, autographs a poster in New Jersey.

Finding Connections to Patients

And yet, Global Patient Week is just one moment in time. The company also posts signage in offices around the world to help employees visualize the patients whose lives depend on their work. Each sign bears the question, ‘Who are you working for?

When the company began distributing patient story videos and posters throughout offices, ‘Who are you working for?’ sparked an outpouring of emotion. Soon, employees were asking if they could hear more patient stories. 

“You may not see the patient who is benefitting from our science, but certainly you know someone in your life, in your mind or your heart who has been touched by serious disease,” says Chief Human Resources Officer Ann Powell. “When you’re working each day to help patients prevail, remember that person.”

Since adopting the 'Who are you working for?’ mantra in 2014, it hasn’t just been patients who shared their journey. Employees recounted more than 1,000 stories of their own loved ones who have faced cancer and other serious illnesses that Bristol-Myers Squibb is working to treat.

“The response has been overwhelming,” Powell says. “That emotional bond has proven to be very strong and defines who we are as a company.”

During Global Patient Week 2018, more than 1,000 employees shared personal stories about patients who impact the work they do.

During Global Patient Week 2018, more than 1,000 employees shared personal stories about patients who impact the work they do.

This year, more than 80 patients will serve as participants, panelists and speakers at 2019 Global Patient Week celebrations. Among these, the company will host celebration events at sites worldwide.

While the events celebrate survivorship, they also reinforce that more work lies ahead, underscoring the theme: “Because There is More to Do.” 

“We come to work each day driven by our mission, acting with a sense of urgency for our patients and their families because there is still so much more to do,” says CEO Giovanni Caforio. “This week is also an important reminder of the patients without treatment options, where our next innovation could provide an answer.” 


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