Understanding patient-centricity: Patient-centricity has been a buzzword in pharma now for many years; indeed there is hardly a pharmaceutical company that doesn’t have mission statements putting the patient at the heart of what it does.
Many different approaches have been taken to patient engagement but we have found that the majority focus on information we expect people to consume, understand and then act upon. Or services that hope to ‘remind’ people to take their medicines, rather than engage with the complex reasons people vary in their clinical outcomes.
Patient-centricity is about building everything around the person, with that person. Across multiple industries the capacity to engage people based on solving the real problems for them beyond their core product are the lead indicators of success. These innovative organisations believe that the convergence of communication channels combined with a societal change in behaviour driven by technology necessitates true, value-based exchanges, with genuine tools and services supporting products at the heart of any strategic plan. This has been enabled through harnessing the key forces impacting society into their planning process and could be even more powerful for pharma.
1. Rapid technological advancement
Technology is advancing at such pace that already most people have a supercomputer in their pocket, and this will only speed up as we enter the world of the cloud, powerful sensors and the internet of things (IoT) combined with artificial intelligence (AI). Already we have clinically significant smartphone apps for accurately diagnosing skin cancers, and giving clinical standard eye examinations. We are beginning to predict the course of diseases, such as with detecting a possible epileptic seizure or using voice recognition to warn of a relapse in bipolar disease. Using apps to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma and rare disease such as pulmonary arterial hypertension can now be proven to improve clinical care.
Pharma opportunity: To provide tools and services that actually help people manage their condition and improve outcomes, rather than just provide information. The application of health technology to patient solutions can seem scary, but if you define the key challenges and work with health technology partners who can combine technical knowledge with the scientific, behavioural and regulatory understanding, it needn’t be. This will undoubtedly be the foundation of future engagement and support, and an area in which, with its historical skill sets, pharma can actually lead the way.
2. Connected and empowered individuals
The empowering of individuals through the proliferation of social channels and platforms has broken down barriers between people and organisations, not just on their services but also their motives. Within healthcare this connectivity has radically changed expectations, driving the current focus on patient-centricity with global communities, giving rise to connected and powerful patient advocates and broadly more educated patient populations. Clinical trial recruitment also has the capacity to increase in speed and, at scale, exponentially increase our patient knowledge, especially in the real-world setting.
Pharma opportunity: The ultimate implication is that people expect you to understand their problems and help them to solve them. This doesn’t necessarily mean being involved in connected communities, but it does mean working with them to gain a better understanding. When we work with patients managing many different conditions there are a number of key things they say they look for: solutions that improve their clinical outcomes, are personal to what they want to achieve, support them in the context of their lives and don’t make things more time-consuming or difficult.
3. Disruption to traditional models
Healthcare is also set for disruption, with collaboration as the fuel driving healthcare, with providers, pharma, healthcare professionals, nurses, payers, patients, caregivers and technology companies coming together to solve some of the big challenges. Pharma will need to embrace the extremes of disruption from large technology companies such as Apple, Samsung and IBM to a small tech start-up, such as the one in Uganda developing a device that can detect malaria and give you a result in two minutes.
Pharma opportunity: Only the most agile and fast-responding healthcare and life science companies will be successful in this new world. Working across multiple partnerships and in different ways enables new ways of looking at problems and how to help people. Co-creation is no longer just nice to do but instead is an essential element of success. Look for opportunities to build new disruptive models that truly do put the patient, or the person, at the heart of your strategy for 2017.
Alex Butler is a partner at OPEN Health and Managing Director of The EarthWorks(an OPEN Health company). For further details of The EarthWorks offering, please get in touch with Alex on: Alex@the-earthworks.com