Demystifying patient-centricity for healthcare companies

Despite decades of being in the field, healthcare and life sciences are yet to develop a functioning business model based on patient-centricity. However, all is not lost as they are rushing to design one finally. But there is no one-size-fits-all solution; patient-centricity is specific to each healthcare entity. Therefore, they must reinvent the wheel that works for them.

What’s new about patient-centricity? Nothing, and it’s the reason medicine and hospitals were born.

So why is it a newly minted term? Because consumers demand it. Today’s consumers no longer resemble their counterparts a decade ago. The accessibility revolution in health information has changed the game’s rules, and consumers are the decision-makers. Which hospital or clinic will they choose for their treatment? It all begins there, irreversibly altering the patient perspective through the eyes of a physician, regulator, or health insurance company.

In addition, the acceleration in personalized therapies and the writ of regulatory authorities to incorporate patients’ perspectives in developing products, services, and approval processes have tilted the scales in the patient’s favor, hence the significance of patient-centricity.

Many healthcare and life sciences companies (HCLS) regard themselves as patient-centric, but that’s wishful thinking. The healthcare sector has yet to see a patient-centered business model, which is a mysterious lapse because what’s so difficult to understand about being patient-centric? It’s par for the course; it is the raison d’etre of healthcare entities.

There would be no hospitals if there were no patients, so what took them so long to understand? It’s the realization that customers expect to be treated as whole people with individualized needs rather than as problems to be solved.

A patient-centric company must place patients at the center of its operations and decision-making and redesign its operating model with the end user in mind.

Forget the wordplay; do it

Patient-centric, patient engagement, and patient-focused healthcare entities love to pick their slogans, but these are different terms and do not mean the same thing.

For example, patient engagement is not patient-centricity. To learn more about patient engagement, please read my article > The three enablers that maximize patient engagement value.

The FasterCures report of 2016 emphasized the need to create a common language around patient-centricity. Identifying the essential elements of what makes an activity patient-centered can be challenging due to the diversity of terms and definitions.

Today, patient-centricity is a priority for every HCLS organization. The healthcare industry is grappling with developing and implementing patient-centric business models. In a Deloitte survey, patient engagement leaders acknowledged that strategizing and executing a genuine patient-centric approach requires a scientific methodology.

The overwhelming economics

Consumers are increasingly moving towards designing seamless and flexible healthcare experiences for themselves. According to a McKinsey study, more than 60 percent of consumers want to be able to schedule or change medical appointments, check medical records, and renew medications online. In our mobile devices led age, they expect health information to be available at a swipe, resulting from being students of the Pandemic university.

The three main aspects of patient-centric healthcare models are Convenience, Transparency, and Personalization. These result in more satisfied consumers increasing retention and cross-selling. The McKinsey survey revealed that patients who benefit from the patient-centric models are 28 percent less likely to switch providers. Also, they are 5-6 times more likely to use other services from the same provider. In other words, organizations that get their patient-centricity right have 28 percent higher retention rates and facilitate sales of other products or services to their clients.

Health and wellness are top of mind for US consumers, who spend between $300 billion and $400 billion OOP (Out of Pocket) each year. About 40 percent of US consumers consider wellness categories such as fitness, nutrition, appearance, sleep, and mindfulness to be a priority, so spending on these categories is rising.

What does Consumer Centricity mean?

It means to deliver consumer experiences that are purposed to each consumer. A consumer is a distinct person and not a part of a mass.

Every patient is a human being different from the other, and though this may seem the most obvious truth that needs no laboring, the fact is, it does, and the core of competition holds an understanding of this truth. Companies succeed when they deliver experiences and content in a personalized, participatory way tailored to their customer’s preferences.

See what’s happening in the world of software. It was common for technology firms to build products only for engineers, with end users not reviewing the products. The company systems used by companies were often designed for engineers. But that has changed. End users are calling the shots today, and companies are listening to them. End users have a say in product development and feature prioritization, and using human-centric design principles; developers are increasingly creating applications that embody user preferences. Because developers know the competition is the leveling field. If one mobile app does not meet a user’s needs, they download the next one.

Amazon’s vision to become the world’s most customer-centric company and Zappos’ commitment to radical customer service are based on this understanding. The Zocdoc business model is pivoted on giving patients complete control over scheduling appointments, hinting at the face of customer-centricity in healthcare to come.

Examples of patient-centricity in action

A patient-centric approach is not about making clinical trials more accessible and getting to the market faster, although that is a part of it. It is not patient-centricity to talk with patients about clinical trials if you are doing your study and focusing on what you think is essential. It’s not a check box exercise or an attempt to confirm your bias.

HCLS organizations must have a solid operating model and clear metrics. Many companies track short-term ROI metrics, such as retention in the number of clinical trials, number of trial amendments, or strength of brand loyalty of existing patients. However, some companies are looking for new metrics that are long-term and not traditional, such as improving the satisfaction of patients and outcomes through more patient-centric R&D processes.

To learn about these metrics in more detail, read the article > How to make patient-centricity a slam dunk.

How are companies advancing patient-centricity?

A solid operating model and a clearly defined strategy are the first steps. Here are some examples of patient-centricity initiatives companies have implemented.

  • Conducting studies on ascertaining patient preferences directly from the patients.
  • Studying patients’ psychologies, behaviors, and other aspects at different points along their treatment journey.
  • Partnering with advocacy organizations and groups to build trust and gain insights.
  • Enhancing transparency throughout the development process for therapies and beyond.
  • Using digital solutions as an additional way of hearing directly from the patients.
  • Integrating health drivers that impact patients and communities holistically.

Please read my article for more details > A roadmap for a patient-centric business model

Patient-centricity is here: are you ready?

Over the next 20 years, healthcare and life sciences will be reshaped by more powerful data connectivity, interoperable and open, secure platforms, and increased consumer engagement.

Rather than relying on health plans and providers for care, by 2040, consumers will choose when, where, and with whom to maintain wellness. Consumers who own health information will likely access and share it broadly with appropriate permissions within the next 20 years.

Therefore, it is time for people in the life sciences sector to think about how to win the trust of these empowered consumers. Understanding perspectives across the patient journey is essential to support healthy behaviors, achieve better health outcomes, and improve the patient experience. They should prepare for disruption and innovation to attain strong patient health outcomes.

Getting the patient-centricity business model right is the only way forward.

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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