A roadmap for a patient-centric business model

It is crucial for healthcare and life sciences (HCLS) companies to have a solid patient-centric operating model, and nothing less will do. Many organizations in the sector are still grappling with the concept, underlining its criticality and urgency.

Are you already a genuine patient-centric healthcare entity? Congratulations! You read the writing on the wall and responded in time. But many don’t belong to this privileged club.

Patient centricity is a simple term, but its definition eludes many healthcare entities. Engaging with patients as study subjects or making clinical trials easier to enroll in and get to the market faster with patient results does not alone constitute patient-centricity.

A successful patient-centric healthcare entity knows patients are its sole purpose, and every process it implements is geared toward their physical, mental, and emotional betterment. And towards this, it uses every proven and emerging means, including technology and data analytics, the twin forces reshaping our understanding of human preferences, to create a personalized experience for each patient. We can liken it to fingerprints. We all have fingerprints, but no two are the same.

The digital strategy

One of the indispensable tools an HLCS company must employ is digital technology. Why? Because it offers the best inside view of a patient’s world. Today’s patients prefer to take charge of their health and access every scrap of information because it enables them to participate in care decisions. This new reality is a windfall for HLCS companies, an invaluable predictive genie-in-the-bottle that helps them plumb the depths of patients’ mindsets to relay the right messages. It can help HCLS companies devise small behavioral nudges based on patient data that can improve the latter’s adherence to treatments or lifestyle changes and enhance the healthcare company’s degree of intimacy with the patient.

As healthcare and software merge to form digital therapeutics, it births patient-centricity’s best ally. It leads to better clinical outcomes and addresses patients’ needs through effective, targeted interventions.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a knight in shining armor, helping many HCLS companies reach their goal. It helps them make sense of the data deluge and devise behavioral nudges for each patient. Imagine the advantage of this digital help compared to when physicians had to possess an elephant’s memory and a magician’s abilities to compute patient responses and devise tailored treatments.

As a result of this transformation, many HCLS companies are reconsidering their strategies. Human intelligence and technology must court each other to hit the bull’s eye in patient centricity. They are complementary and refine the patient’s all-round health-giving experience of a tender touch, a soothing talk, and a precise diagnosis of their condition based on the metrics they generate.

Look at it like this: a patient is a walking, talking, feeling composition of metrics. When a healthcare care entity fails to capture those numbers by employing the latest methods available, it wastes its most precious resource. It also signals to patients that their contributions do not have value.

To learn more about metrics, please read my article > How to make patient-centricity a slam dunk

Are you using digital solutions for non-digital problems or vice versa?

One of the least understood digital principles is ‘compatibility use’. Digital strategies are often developed for problems that do not require digital solutions, so it is imperative to align the right tools with the proper business functions while keeping patient preference and ease of use in mind.

Organizations that understand digital transformation know they should first articulate what they want to accomplish with digital tools before deploying them.

Patients and physicians are becoming more connected through wearables, sensors, and mobile apps, potentially enabling earlier intervention or prevention. It is a richly rewarding development, but today’s healthcare ecosystem is not geared to exploiting its advantages. It is not efficiently optimizing the underlying workflows and systems to empower patients through data collection.

To know more about patient engagement, please read my article >  The three enablers that maximize patient engagement value

Look for these billboards on the patient-centric digital highway:

A patient journey map: Develop a journey map that identifies touch points to improve the patient experience and outcomes. A seamless patient data collection method requires collaboration with partners, such as consumer technology companies, advocacy groups, and providers. User-friendly tools are more likely to be developed through partnerships.

Have a solid plan: Invest in a program and analytics capabilities to utilize the data. Establishing leading practices and identifying methodologies is crucial to collecting and processing data. Efforts are on to make patient data more interoperable, so different data sets can be combined. Nevertheless, this may require more harmonization, with various stakeholders cooperating.

Data ownership: In Europe, policies such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enable patients to make decisions for the use of their data. Companies using patient data to benefit patients, whether through research or providing a more tailored experience, will likely need clear policies and procedures to communicate this to patients. Deloitte’s latest survey of US healthcare consumers indicates that only 39 percent of consumers are willing to share their blinded data with healthcare research organizations. It is critical to establish trust by being transparent about the benefits of sharing data and how it is used.

Collaborations: One stakeholder can’t overhaul the healthcare system. Life sciences companies are part of the ecosystem, and it is essential for patients that biopharma companies and medical device companies develop effective drugs and devices to serve them better. The industry should partner with other stakeholders, including patient advocacy groups and health systems.

There will be a need for life sciences companies to partner with trusted entities in the community, including physicians and other healthcare professionals, community health promoters, patient and health advocacy groups, and nonprofit organizations.

Partnering with patient advocacy groups: In terms of their mission, goals, and overall structure, patient advocacy groups differ significantly. Many focus on strategies to address their conditions by directing and funding research, raising awareness for the disease or condition, and helping patients understand treatment and care options. Many help raise funds to support patient services, and some have influenced moving the research agenda forward and driving data strategies. These groups aim to advance research paradigms through the use of innovative methods.

Several examples of the partnering of biopharma and advocacy groups are available in the public domain. For example, the US-based Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has demonstrated how nonprofits can fund trials and bring patients to them. Some advocacy groups have also created data-sharing initiatives besides their funding initiatives. A data hub operated by the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) assists patients in finding out more about the natural history of the disease and connecting them to trials faster. By forming consortia, advocacy groups have created patient registries and served as data conveners.

Inter-industry collaboration: Many examples exist of robust pre-competitive initiatives among pharma companies. Through these initiatives, we can gain more data insights efficiently. For instance, in a consortium facilitated by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, four large pharmaceutical companies provided critical safety data on LRRK2 inhibitors for Parkinson’s disease, which has enabled the continued development of this class of drugs. Sharing data among companies can improve collective understanding and ultimately speed up treatment delivery. For companies to truly put patients at the center of their operations and decision-making, they need to cut through the clutter.

Learning from outside pharma

New entrants have disrupted most industries with consumer-friendly solutions. Although not all technology-focused companies can easily or readily develop a safe, effective drug or medical device, several disruptors have caused biopharma executives to sit up and take notice.

There is much that biopharma companies can learn from other industries, including consumer-centric technology and retail companies. Several companies have figured out how to make the consumer experience seamless. Several digitally maturing biopharma companies have recruited chief digital officers (CDOs) from the retail and fashion industries, hoping they will bring fresh perspectives to their typically conservative and risk-averse cultures.

A fashion industry CDO can change how patients are engaged by hiring editors, librarians, and copywriters to run a digital campaign.

Kathy Giusti is a patient advocate and co-chair of the US-based Kraft Precision Medicine Initiative, a collaboration between the Robert and Myra Kraft Foundation, Harvard Business School, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard Business School. In her talks, she often discusses how the life sciences industry should learn from organizations and sectors that have mastered the consumer experience.

Giusti and her team recognized early on that they needed to reach more patients and encourage them to share their data. To learn more about direct-to-consumer business models, she looked outside of pharma. To create a better end-to-end consumer experience, her team created an emotive brand, used more social media and jargon-free language, and simplified everything from registration to patient questions. As a result, the team now has access to a broader, deeper pool of data to build new treatments.

We possess domain expertise in the healthcare industry and have built a solid relationship of content building and strategic inputs with many of them. We can help you with patient persona development, building personalized marketing strategies, and strategic content creation. To learn more, visit our website.

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