I recently attended a dinner hosted by National Journal and AstraZeneca on “patient centricity.” Those around the table were payers, patient advocates, providers, pharmaceutical executives, IT geeks, and policy wonks.

Patient Centricity is a phrase we hear a lot and it’s lost a lot of its meaning—kind of like “personalized medicine.” But (in the immortal words of Jim Croce) “it doesn’t have to be that way.”

When you think about it, both phrases really mean the same thing—driving positive therapeutic outcomes and, not surprisingly, the assembled diners agreed. After all, payers want (and are willing—mostly) to pay for treatments that work, physicians want treatments that provide the maximum therapeutic benefit, pharmaceutical companies want their products to work as well as they possibly can (so that physicians want to prescribe them to more patients and payers want to pay for them), and patients (last but not least) want to get well as swiftly and completely as possible.

(And, it’s no accident that many in Pharmaland have found religion in the wake of the intense focus on the prices of certain specialty medicines. It is more urgent than ever to protect “sustainable innovation.”)

The point to remember is that a patient who is diagnosed earlier and treated with the most efficacious treatment as soon as possible is the least expensive over time. This means we must think long-term—not a trait the healthcare system is known for.

Patient Centricity = Driving Outcomes. Personalized Medicine, the right medicine in the right dose for the right patient at the right time, drives outcomes.  Patient Centricity is Personalized Medicine.

Peter Pitts is a former FDA associate commissioner and president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest.