My neighbor received an alert last night from a pharma app he had installed on his smartphone. The app, created by a leading pharmaceutical company, reminded him to take his medicines, and threw up several charts related to his treatment. He was all praises for the drugmaker and its “digital” reach.
In this digital age, people have access to a vast amount of health information over the Internet, mobile apps, and wearables like FitBit and Apple Watch. These tools are enabling patients to stay more informed and actively participate in their own treatment, while smoothly interfacing with payers and providers. McKinsey notes that 67% of patients polled in a 2015 survey conducted by Ipsos said they were increasingly making decisions about personal health on their own.
Discerning patients now seek healthcare solutions on demand that are more affordable and outcome-driven, and they want them in a convenient and customized format. Thanks to emerging technologies, consumers today have access to a plethora of tools and apps that help them directly engage with pharmaceutical companies.
Recognizing this structural shift, pharma is now coming forward to address emerging patient expectations. Going forward, patient services will be a driver of competitive advantage for drug manufacturers, rather than being a mere option. No wonder then, many companies have stepped up efforts around patient education and segmentation, experience management, and medication delivery/support.
Another emerging trend is the increasing focus on “outcomes-based” care. Regulators are emphasizing more and more on treatment efficacy, and using advanced data analytics to track drug effectiveness. Payers have begun striking value-based pricing contracts with life sciences companies, seeking discounts for drugs that do not deliver, or linking payment to cure rates. This, in turn, has forced life sciences companies to rethink their patient engagement strategies in a significant way.
Patient centricity is the focus area in clinical trials too, amid an accelerating digitization of the entire value chain. For example, a leading medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturer has begun incorporating patients’ viewpoints into its trial design. Janssen has developed a platform to use “smart” technologies for streamlining clinical supplies management, with a view to enabling greater operational efficiency, easing regulatory compliance, and enhancing patient engagement.
Pharma firms are launching apps, online support forums and other digital aids to help patients better handle the complexities involved in the diagnoses-to-treatment cycle, including securing financial assistance. Companies want to build comprehensive patient engagement platforms that effortlessly connect all stakeholders across the ecosystem, including payers, providers and physicians.
Imagine a smartwatch that monitors the drug intake and health conditions of a patient suffering from Parkinson’s, sends her medication reminders, and dispatches a periodic medical report to the patient, consulting neurologist. This is a great example of how various industry stakeholders can harness emerging technologies to improve coordination for better patient outcomes.
One key determinant of the success of ongoing and future patient engagement initiatives will be organizations’ ability to effectively mine growing volumes of patient health data–in multiple formats, spanning diverse sources.
Advanced analytics tools could come in handy here, helping pharma companies derive useful insights around patient behavior, including drug consumption patterns, from their vast data repositories. Think of a digital tool that tracks social media messages or online discussion forums to understand patients’ views about a particular drug. Tapping this information could substantially improve drug makers’ ability to address patient pain points, and help them craft targeted strategies for elevated treatment outcomes.
It makes business sense
A pharma company’s primary objective is to ensure its drugs are well received by patients, and deliver the promised benefits. Companies should engage patients at every stage of the product lifecycle to create much longer and meaningful customer relationships, thus boosting brand loyalty.
For starters, drug makers could create apps to educate patients, remind them about medications, or just help them find the best medical policy for their specific requirements. By using digital tools to track drug usage and benefits, life sciences firms can also demonstrate evidence of outcomes to payers and regulators.
Implementing the right analytics tools can empower organizations to glean meaningful medical patterns from an ever expanding volume of patient health data. By incorporating these insights, as well as patient feedback, into product development processes, pharma companies could set the stage for better outcomes over the long term.
Finally, adopting a streamlined digital patient engagement platform will help firms automate business processes, significantly enhancing the agility of a wide range of complex, and often cross-functional, workflows. Cost savings are sure to follow.
In order to reposition themselves as providers of a broader array of services, and become truly patient-centric, pharma companies should consider experimenting more. Orchestrating a shift to “patient centricity” will likely require a major organizational overhaul, including a relook at internal technology platforms as well as business processes.
At L&T Infotech, we believe stakeholders across the life sciences industry should look holistically at patient care management. An integrated approach leveraging data science, technology and contextual personal information can effectively address the new patient-centric paradigm. With our years of industry experience and expertise in emerging technologies like mobility, social media, Internet of Things and healthcare informatics, we are enabling integrated health into a reality.
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