Bench International

Why Life Sciences Organizations can benefit from becoming more patient-centric

Why Life Sciences Organizations can benefit from becoming more patient-centric

Insight by: Jon Warner

Consumer demand to better understand and participate in health care decision-making, especially through many of the newly experienced digital health means like apps and telehealth have been a huge driver of ‘patient-centricity’ expectations and therefore early strategies to meet this demand in some life sciences organizations, in the last few years. However, the general view is that there is room to go much further about how this might happen and where to focus the attention.  

In a recent report, the consulting firm, Deloitte, identified three successive phases or stages in which a move to greater patient-centricity in the life sciences industry could be brought about: 

Phase 1: Internally among life sciences organization employees: This involves taking the first steps to educate senior leaders and the wider employee population about the need for patient centricity, and why it matters, to both the particular life sciences organization and their customers, in every part of their relationship with them (and then progressively bringing about changes to bring stronger processes and systems into being to support this). This is by far the most difficult phase and often means a lot of training and a strong shift in the internal culture.  

Phase 2: In the R&D stage of product/drug development: In this phase, often involving consultation with health regulators, providers, and payers, as well as with many healthcare professionals, patient centricity largely involves considering how a new product/drug development effort will be viewed by individuals and groups when people are recruited to clinical trials. Specific patient-engagement strategies, therefore, need to be explored and evolved so that trial participant needs and expectations can be better met.  

Phase 3: In the product/drug commercialization stage: As a new product/drug comes to market or is fully commercialized, being more patient-centric is about better understanding what consumers need to know, how they want consumer education (or what forms it needs to take), how they can gain access and what to expect when they are happy to adopt a solution and stick to it. 

So, in general, how can life sciences organizations become more patient-centric? Here are a few ideas: 

Clinical Trials: This includes protocol development; participant identification, recruitment, and retention; and adverse event management. The ultimate objective here, of course, is to bring new therapies to market, and patient interaction is essential. Patient-centricity in clinical trials means never forgetting that the participants are people with their own unique lives and needs. As a result, life science organizations need to engage with empathy in all interactions and make sure requests are reasonable and practical from the patient’s point of view.

Access & Reimbursement: This includes recruitment/enrollment; benefits verification; prior authorization; and co-pay assistance. For example, when a patient has a prescription written for them, they need to be able to fill it. Life science organizations may need to provide support for benefits verification through the payer, prior authorizations, step therapies, and co-pay issues.  

Patient Assistance: This includes enrolment; benefits verification; and assistance disbursement. If for some reason, a patient does not have access to a solution or therapy, there should ideally be other ways to support them. This could be through a charitable arm or foundation as well as third-party organizations or programs that will cover the cost of the treatment or provide general help.  

Health & Wellness: This includes disease or condition education; health coaching; wellness programs; and patient group advocacy. A life sciences organization can therefore take a more active role in helping to educate patients on their disease states and how to stay healthy.   

Patient Adherence: This includes recruitment/enrollment; clinical support; social determinants of heal (SDOH) support; retention; and personalized medicine. If your patient is on a prescribed, long-term therapy (e.g., for hypertension), think about how you can best support them to follow the instructions for that therapy to stay on it and stay healthy. 

 Building Brand: This includes a range of helpful and supporting strategies including coupons/vouchers; direct-to-consumer marketing; patient advocacy; recall management; and medical information. Ultimately, building the brand is really helping people understand who the particular life sciences organization is, and how you help people. Patients want to know that the organization is committed to doing the right things for the right reasons.

Gaining and sharing Insights: This often includes ongoing payer and provider collaboration; Gaining and disseminating real World Evidence support; and engaging in any activity connected to improving patient outcomes. Insight is really a constant, ongoing, cyclic process, fed by data from all of the other activities above. 

Using ‘digital’ technology: This often includes making more and better use of electronic communication and tools, like digital health apps that help a patient to feel more connected. This is connected both with the Life sciences organization, in order to ask questions and gain answers, but also potentially to peer patients (assuming privacy issues are well-catered to) who may have the same condition and would like to share experiences.

The above is by no means an exhaustive list of areas in which greater better centricity can occur in life sciences organizations but they are a start.