How to make patient-centricity a slam dunk

Healthcare ideals and commercial realities intersect because shareholders need to see ROI. Therefore, financial decision-making is integral to patient-centric HCLS companies. However, commercial imperatives are a long-term goal; the immediate task is to sustain patient-centricity.

Getting patient-centricity right is the healthcare industry’s slam dunk.

But how does it get there? With the help of well-defined policies and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

For example, the US-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) has a Triple Aim policy widely adopted in America and influential worldwide. It focuses on the following:

  • Improving patient care, including quality and satisfaction.
  • Enhancing population health.
  • Reducing the per capita cost of healthcare.

These are clear pathways to achieve IHI’s desired results of everyone receiving the best care and health possible and improving health and health care worldwide. Why? Because they are all measurable and quantifiable. If you can measure it, then you can master it.

So, it is indispensable for healthcare and life sciences companies (HCLS) to follow metrics, analytics, and KPIs. These are keys that open the doors to patient-centricity. But many companies are unclear on what metrics to track and how to use the results. It is the biggest hurdle to success because it increases the distance to the goal – patient centricity – and blurs KPIs resulting in non-optimization of shareholders’ interests to maximize profits and increase value.

In short, it leaves many companies scratching their heads about achieving the goal.

How to measure the success of patient-centricity initiatives

Let’s clarify one thing: it’s not difficult to quantify patient-centricity. It’s a holistic concept, but every aspect is measurable. The trick to success is making everything measurable.

The human experience is abstract and tangible. The latter is highly trackable, but the former can also be measured if done the right way. When a patient expresses feelings, choices, preferences, and anxieties, these are rich data to collect. If the provider-patient expertise is based on noting the numeric episodes of a particular emotion or response, it becomes a metric that shows the way.

But – and this is a critical point – the provider and patient perspectives or priorities must match.

For example, research by Prof. John FP Bridges of the Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, US, focused on establishing a list of priorities physicians underestimate compared to patients. In the case of patients with schizophrenia, the priorities were improvement in patient satisfaction, self-determination, physical well-being and fitness, activities of daily living, and capacity to work.

On the other, physicians tended to overvalue the importance of decreased mental disorder symptoms, improvement in self-confidence, communication, and emotion, and a decrease in suspicion and distrust.

These are critical factors, but they are not shared elements during the provider-patient experience because both parties have divergent priorities, which can tamper with the composite role of metrics by splitting them two ways for an essentially unitarian purpose.

Inconsistencies between patients and their physicians when setting goals can lead to poor compliance with therapy. Conversely, clinicians who link drug therapy to outcomes that patients value may have better levels of adherence. Patients and physicians collaborating on treatment decisions can improve results and enhance patient satisfaction.

Where are the needles in the haystack?

The first thing companies must do to initiate patient centricity is look beyond the short-term benefits. Patient centricity is not an overnight formula; the ROIs will come only when your operating model is fully aligned with the goal.

Second, draw up a metrics tracking map that must be specific to your company and its functions and teams. Third, analyze the numbers and use the results to reshape your strategies.

Answer the following questions. It will help you identify the footprints to track for the desired results:

  • In your studies with the highest priority, did patient feedback lead to a better clinical trial design?
  • Did incorporating patient input speed up the trial (e.g., by reducing protocol amendments)?
  • Was a patient-identified outcome addressed in the trial?
  • Did a clinical trial that collected and implemented patient insights result in an improved patient experience?
  • Have you established a patient advisory board?
  • Have you done surveys or provided questionnaires on/to patients?
  • Do your initiatives embed patients’ voices consistently?
  • Have you developed processes to capture insights from patients, caregivers, and the people who serve them?
  • How do your employees score on surveys and assessments?
  • Do individuals within and across company functions share best practices?
  • Do you use information from research into patient insights to improve your Target Product Profile?
  • How do we measure patient participation in protocol development?
  • Did we answer all their questions/address their concerns regarding the trial design?
  • What are our plans for sharing aggregate trial results with patients?
  • Has a website been created for clinical trial participants? Is it easy to understand and patient-friendly?

It is not always possible to link these initiatives to specific ROIs, but collectively, they will convert into ROIs in the long term. So, HCLS companies must balance investments to achieve their own ‘triple aim’ of addressing patients’ needs through innovation. 

Some HCLS companies link ROI to metrics along the value chain, while others focus on measuring processes that indicate patient-centric progress. Both are relevant, but the dominant factor must be making headway in patient centricity.

Shareholders need to see value in dollars, which often comes later and is a long-term goal. Metrics that apply to the long term will differ from short-term ones, and an intelligent HCLS company whose primary aim is achieving patient centricity will learn to create a balance between the two.

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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