After years of engaging primarily with physicians, many pharmaceutical companies are making a significant shift by starting to focus their commercial activities on building relationships directly with patients. Companies with highly specialized and rare disease therapies often have had this focus longer. But now many companies, including those with diversified portfolios, are looking for ways to add value along the continuum of patient care.
Focusing on patients often requires a whole new playbook. Large pharmaceutical companies that have been focused on (relatively) lower-cost mass market products sold at high volumes may have dabbled in the past with simple patient programs such as copay cards and basic adherence programs. But within the past 24 months we have seen many of these companies begin to use high-touch patient programs for specialty products to deliver a different level of value.
Added benefit: Data
Broadening patient programs from a “cost of doing business” to a true “patient engagement” strategy can offer significant opportunities for pharmaceutical companies in many areas – starting with the potential value of the data these programs can generate.
A comprehensive patient engagement/support program can generate data on:
• Patient demographics
• Treatment regimens
• Product uses
• Patient outcomes and information on when those results were achieved
• Treatment effectiveness
• Patient reported outcomes
• Characteristics of patients who are responding particularly well (or poorly) to the treatment
This data can profoundly influence how companies develop and support their products.
What is your company doing with the data it collects?
Pharmaceutical companies that are deepening patient engagement are almost certainly gathering data. But many companies are not getting as much value from it as they should, missing the opportunity for many potential insights. Companies could use the data to improve outcomes and effectiveness, guide patient behaviors to get the best results from treatment, provide prescribing physicians with valuable information on their patients, anticipate trends that may affect the supply chain, and a lot more.
Key considerations for keeping the data strategy on track
Even while pharmaceutical companies have been beefing up their data capabilities, these have often been trained on narrow parts of the business. Now is the time to focus on patient engagement programs.
Here are some considerations for leveraging the data from patient engagement programs:
• Augment the data: Traditional patient data can become even more powerful and useful when combined with other related data – which could come from wearables, the Internet of Things, and other nontraditional sources. These days, it’s not enough to rely on the same old data sources. At every turn, look for ways to introduce and combine patient data from new sources.
• Widen horizons: The most obvious use for patient data is in improving patient care. But don’t stop there – patient data may be just as useful in research and development, including early development. In many companies, organizational siloes have kept data separate, missing the opportunity from insights from the data.
• Plan for the business implications: The more measurable data you have, the more potential for influencing business decisions. Make sure to think through the real business implications of data at the start. For example, value-based contracting arrangements will commonly turn on more exact metrics. If 35 percent of patients using your organization’s treatment exceeded expectations for success, expect to charge more. Alternatively, if the treatment falls short, the contract may call for you to lower prices.
Deepening relationships with patients can open the door to a host of potential new opportunities, including helping to keep patients on the right treatment plan. The data these programs generate can be transformative. Entering patient engagement programs is a commitment – and one that requires plenty of detailed planning. The good news for pharmaceutical companies with limited experience in patient engagement programs is that plenty of work has been done elsewhere. Learn from what others have done – and get going. Because your peers are likely plunging ahead.
Digital is transforming the life sciences industry. Are you ready to keep up with shifting demands and increasing expectations from customers? This new blog series featuring Deloitte leaders provides a look into the latest trends in this transformation to keep you a step ahead. Stay tuned next month for the next in the series.