Patient centricity is the new strategy everyone in pharma and medtech is talking about. While advocating patient centricity is á la mode, is it effective? Our latest blog post explores why pharma and medtech companies need to shift the focus onto patients to survive and thrive in this outcomes orientated landscape…
Organisations are now faced with the task of improving health outcomes at a lower cost. When other industries have faced the challenge of “doing more with less”, they have turned to customer empowerment strategies. For example, we now do our own banking, assemble our own furniture and check ourselves in at the airport. This customer empowerment translates to the healthcare industry through patient – centricity.
Advances in technology and communication, combined with the explosive growth in data and information, have given rise to a more empowered global consumer in all industries, and healthcare is no different. According to the Pew Research Internet Project, 75% of US adults looked online for health information within the past year. Social media, patient groups, health & wellness mobile apps, wearable fitness devices and the wealth of healthcare knowledge that is easily accessible to patients on the internet has allowed patients to have a more proactive role than ever before in their healthcare.
When the surveyed patients were asked to rank a number of factors in terms of their importance for driving patient empowerment they all ‘technology’ in either first or second place.
Figure 1: All surveyed patients placed technology as a key driver of patient empowerment.: http://www.pharmaphorum.com/articles/empowered-patients-spread-their-healthcare-wings
Patients are more knowledgeable, engaged, motivated, better equipped to do their own research and ask their physicians for treatments by name. Product messages are not sufficient for an empowered patient population. Instead, pharma and medtech companies should devise strategies that communicate healthcare/disease management support and education.
Clinical Trial Participation
Patient’s role in healthcare is not solely at the delivery stage. Patient recruitment in clinical trials has long been a pain point. A commonly stated industry statistic is that 80% of trials missed their milestones, due to difficulties recruiting and retaining patients. However, polls regularly show that the vast majority of patients would be willing to participate in clinical trials, if they were easier to access. Historically, clinical trials are seldom ‘patient-friendly’ and this lack of personal connection contributes to poor medication (or exercise/diet) regimen adherence and high drop-out rates.
Treating patients as partners, rather than data points results in better educated, highly engaged patients. Designing trials with the patient in mind will result in improved recruitment, retention and quality of results.
Improved Health Outcomes
Patient – centric programs and platform design improve health outcomes and patient experience. Manufacturers are focusing more and more on health outcomes and “patient centricity” is mentioned on almost every corporate website. To truly understand what the optimum patient health outcome is, organisations must be fully committed to becoming patient partners. It’s impossible to become a patient partner, without clear listening and communication channels. Lode Dewulf, VP Chief Patient Affairs Officer at UCB, a patient- centricity evangelist put it best at the recent Eyeforpharma Barcelona conference:
Through listening and communication, manufacturers will gain insight into Patient Reported Outcomes (PROs). A PRO is any outcome that is provided directly by a patient, with no clinical measurement or interpretation. For example, clinical trials that include PROs can help understand patient’s views on how treatments effect their daily life. Social media listening can also provide valuable insights into the patient’s perspectives on how their healthcare helps/hinders their quality of life. This is extremely valuable, qualitative data that should then be fed into marketing and support services to provide a fully patient–centric value message.
Patient adherence has long been an issue in the healthcare industry. Research by the World Health Organization suggests that 50% of patients with chronic conditions do not take their medicines as prescribed. This results in poorer outcomes, wasted resources and increased costs. If products and services are developed with little or no consideration of patient needs and priorities, it is likely that poor adherence will follow. Services designed with patient pathways and journeys in mind will create improved patient engagement.
Manufacturers are now aware that they must be outcomes-focused, but do they really understand what the ideal patient outcome is? Patients suffering from chronic illness may not be as interested in whether a product induces remission, as they are in whether they simply feel better. By engaging patients as partners and putting their requirements at the core of your strategy, important and timely insights can be gained.
Patient-Centricity: A Strategy for Success
Long gone are the days of “blockbuster” drugs and product- centric approaches. The role of pharma and medtech companies has evolved from drug makers to service providers. This focus on health outcomes coupled with empowered patients and the clinical and adherence benefits that go along with a patient- centric strategy clearly demonstrate the value of treating patients as partners. To survive in the new and ever changing healthcare landscape, manufacturers must create an architecture that allows patients to engage in their own healthcare.