We, at Inspired Health, always look for information on the web that can help to push patient engagement forward. We have long been of the thinking that sales in life sciences can be increased if companies take a patient-centered approach. However, the industry has been INCREDIBLY slow to adopt a patient-centered approach. We found this article in Pharma Times that discusses the trend towards companies finally relenting and adopting patient-centered approach. We hope the author is right! Here is the article –

Patient centric sales

Originally published in Pharma Times August 30, 2018, authored by Sanjeev Sachdeva

The patient is now at the centre of everything we do in the healthcare industry. One of the fundamental changes is how the model of selling directly to the physician has been replaced by a patient centric approach.

Whilst this does not completely replace the physician focus, it complements their role. By putting the focus on the patient, the pharma sales role becomes much more holistic.

Pharma companies are trying to understand the patient’s unmet needs and their unique demands. They have to understand the patient’s demographic, disease stages, financial health and their access to the healthcare ecosystem as a whole.

It involves an entirely new approach to the sales process. Companies are now aligning sales to patient centricity. They have to look at a whole range of factors. They need to look at how medicine can be tailored to meet individual needs; it means shifting not only the sales strategy, but also the enterprise culture and operational aspects of the company.

For instance, pharma companies are now looking at the patient engagement and end-to-end disease management (for instance, how committed are they to the treatment?). It tracks the medicinal regime, such as improving medication adherence, financial support enablement and brand marketing strategy. It also addresses other unmet needs and individual patient behavior aspects.

This requires far more communication and engagement with patients. It starts from the drug development stage, through to post-marketing surveillance, and then throughout their treatment progress. Many of these changes are multiple factors including changing healthcare and regulatory requirements. Take, for example, the Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER), value-based reimbursement, and other such factors.

But patient centricity also relies heavily on digital technology developments. Patients now have access to social networks, where they can discuss their health issues remotely. Social media analytics plays a large part in assessing and monitoring these patient interactions and making sense of what is being said.

There is also a growing awareness, uptake and maturing in what we know as mHealth technology – otherwise known as Mobile Heath tech. This includes a whole raft of wearable devices that can track a patient’s status throughout the day; IoT, Blockchain, Virtual Reality (VR), chat-bots, smart pills, smart packaging, and AI all play a part in analysing what the data is telling us.

All of these changes should, of course, also benefit the patient. To them, it provides better medical value; a holistic understanding of the disease factors should look at the whole body, examining a range of lifestyle factors that should lead to the most effective treatment. It can also track potential side effects, or risk factors, and crucially, should enable patients to make more informed decisions about their own treatment options.

Of course, all of these changes alter the traditional patient / healthcare professional (HCP) relationship. As part of that changing landscape, ‘Patient coordinated care ecosystem’ acts as key enabler, which allows pharma as well as other stakeholders to deploy their patient centric sales strategy. These ecosystem(s) allows to connect patient, doctor, pharma sector, payers, and other industry bodies such as drug compliance authorities and patient advocacy groups. Ecosystem such as this ensures better patient health outcomes, enabled by improved engagement, medication adherence and effective and timely analysis of medical insights.
In essence, Pharma companies are adopting and investing in various new capabilities to deploy the strategies mentioned. Some of the key initiatives are highlighted below:

  • Adopting various mHealth initiatives to enable patients, HCPs and other stakeholders to
  • Investing in the enterprise wide capabilities to enable Real World Evidence (RWE) and related analytics capabilities to understand patients’ unmet needs, treatment value, competitive landscape  and others business insights
  • Partnerships with industry players for a collaboration ecosystem
  • Deploying new business and IT capabilities to become regulatory complaint and secured and meet the challenges places by greater regulation and data privacy laws (GDPR, PII, HIPAA and others)
  • Investments in new smart devices including smart pill, smart packaging and others to enable companies to track broader data sets, generating valuable new business insights.

In summary, as part of its revised sales strategy which is more ‘patient centric’, a pharma company needs to put the patient’s needs and engagement at the heart of everything it does. Regulations and the healthcare ecosystem stakeholder strategies will play a large part of that approach. But technology is also a huge driver as the rise of digital technologies enables pharma companies to take a much more comprehensive and holistic view of patient health.

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