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Why collaborating with patient services is a smart move for pharmaceuticals

16 Oct 2019 | by Dr. Surabhi Bhati

In the traditional healthcare ecosystem, pharma companies have worked in collaboration with pharmacies and doctors with little or no direct connection with patients.

As healthcare is maturing and patients are becoming aware of their health and wellbeing, the demand for active participation of pharma companies towards community health is increasing.

Healthcare delivery needs a change from the “one-size fits all” approach to more personalised, targeted intervention. Various studies suggest that the desire of patients to get involved in their care and demand of getting healthcare providers actively towards patient support is raising.

Accenture recently conducted a patient service survey, among 4,000 patients with one of the three chronic conditions Migraine, Rheumatoid Arthritis or Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia from four countries namely, the UK, USA, France and Germany. The objective of this survey was to identify people's views on services provided by patient organisations versus services offered by pharmaceutical companies.

The results of this survey provided great insight into the demands of today’s patients. The survey revealed that regardless of the medical condition and geographical locations, patients highly value services offered by patient organisations.

In fact, most of them prefer services provided by the patient organisations over the one provided by pharmaceuticals. The same study also shows that the patient believes that pharmaceuticals are not doing enough to provide patient support.

About 76% of respondents said that pharmaceutical companies have a responsibility to provide services that complement their products. Moreover, the survey also reported a lack of awareness among people about patient support services provided by pharmaceutical companies. Only one in five patients was aware of the other services (if provided) offered by the pharmaceuticals to help in coping with the illness.

If the pharma companies want to establish a meaningful relationship with their patients, they should start working with patient organisations to provide personalised care and treatment.

Let’s dig deep on what the survey revealed about patients point of view regarding the patient support services:

Key Findings:

Patient prefers services from a patient organisation:

Patient prefers services from patient organisations: When asked about what help and from whom, they might need from the healthcare provides. Across all types of conditions, patients preferred using services provided by patient organisations for information regarding available therapy and clinical trials, guidance in case of use of kits and last but not the least community and emotional support.

Surprisingly, patients prefer to get this information from patient support organisations over directly from pharma companies. The survey also reveals that patients give almost equal preference to clinical trial information provided by patient organisations (20%) as much as from their physicians (22%).

The survey also reveals that patients are willing to share detailed information about the daily impact of their health condition with patient organisations. It would be productive for pharmaceuticals to collaborate with patient support organisations in relevant clinical areas to better understand patients requirements.

Pharmaceuticals rank low in understanding the patients' emotional, financial and other needs:

Apart from medical treatment, patients also look out for emotional support and guidance during their difficult times. When asked about the support (other than medical) provided by healthcare providers, people ranked the pharmaceutical companies lowest. The respondents believed that pharma companies don't understand their needs.

Interestingly during the survey, about half of the pharmaceuticals head reported a lack of understanding about patients expectations.

Patient organisations are winning in patient engagement:

Patients prefer to interact with a patient organisation more than the pharma company about day to day management of their condition.

The 56% of global survey responders were willing to interact with patient organisations as compared to 36% who were willing to engage with pharma companies directly.

The gap is more pronounced in the USA, where 55% of people were more likely to interact with patient organisations than pharmaceuticals.

Patients preferred both online and offline mode for engaging with patient organisations. Even when 88% of respondents said they would either visit the website or subscribe to newsletters to receive relevant information about their conditions. About 72% said that they would like to talk to someone over the phone or video to understand self-management skills for their chronic health condition.

Why Pharmaceuticals should start working with patient organisations

Half of the patients surveyed said that they started engaging with patients organisation post-diagnosis before their treatment began. The conclusion of the study suggests that by collaborating with patient organisations, pharma companies can better understand the patient’s needs and support improved health behaviour.

Patient organisations not only provide much needed emotional support but also help patients and their caregivers by educating them about self-management skills and much needed for managing the conditions at their home.

Nevertheless, by engaging early with patients during their treatment lifecycle, pharma companies can help patients better manage the condition.

Pharmaceuticals and patients organisations collaboration will provide easier access to available treatment, improve treatment adherence, clinical outcome and patient experience. It will also provide more information on patients conditions for future research in health.

We at Healtho5 are on a mission to solve patient engagement market in India and provide affordable easy to use solutions to the healthcare industry and patients. Visit Healtho5 or call us @ +91-8047092031

About the Author: Dr Surabhi Bhati is Marketing Manager at Healtho5 Solutions. She has a medical degree with an MBA in Health Information Technology (HIT). She is passionate about healthcare innovation, writing, and online marketing.