This article was co-authored by Shipra Rastogi, Senior Principal, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Infosys Consulting
With the explosion of health data and the rise of “consumerism”, as well as the shift towards value-based models and the increased demand for personalized medicine, life sciences companies need to rethink their interactions with patients and key stakeholders. Focusing solely on the patients’ medical need is no longer an effective strategy. To be successful, life sciences organizations must put the patients at the center and support them throughout their whole treatment journey.
In this article, we take a look at some of the key trends that are reshaping the relationship between life science companies and patients. We also provide guidance for how these companies can deliver patient services that help support optimal health outcomes and create a competitive advantage.
KEY DRIVERS FOR PATIENT SERVICES
1. Greater Focus on Value and Outcomes
With the shift to more ‘value-based’ models, and payments being tied to outcome, life sciences organizations are under pressure to justify their pricing and to demonstrate that their drugs can improve treatment outcomes. To achieve this, these organizations now not only offer patients the right treatment, but also support them throughout their treatment journey.
2. Rapid Growth in Availability of Health Data
The amount of medical data generated every year is rising exponentially. A research report by EMC and IDC projected a health data volume of 2314 exabytes of data in 2020. The healthcare business analytics market is forecasted to reach USD 50.5 billion by 2024 from USD 14.0 billion in 2019, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28.3% and according to Gallups’ annual Health and Healthcare survey from 2019, one in five US adults use health apps and wearable trackers.
Traditionally, life sciences companies had access to a limited range of patient health data, especially real-world data (RWD) that is collected outside traditional clinical trials. Today, powered by rapid technological advances, companies can retrieve patient information from a variety of sources such as electronic medical records (EMRs), electronic health records (EHRs), claims and billing information as well as big data from wearables or social media to better understand the quality, efficiency and safety of their treatments.
3. Shift From Reactive Patient to Proactive Consumer
Today’s digitally savvy patients take a more active role in managing their own health. They have access to more information than ever and search for symptoms, available treatments, and options before choosing a provider.
With this shift towards healthcare ‘consumerism’, patients have higher expectations regarding their healthcare experience, expecting the same service from their healthcare providers and life sciences companies as they experience from their favorite retailer or travel agent.
According to a recent study, 71% of patients said it’s very important that pharmaceutical companies provide good customer support.
4. Rise of Personalized Medicine
With the growth of specialty drugs and personalized therapies like gene or cell therapy like CAR-T, “one-size-fits-all” therapies are being more and more replaced by individualized treatments. However, personalized medications and first-in-class drugs are very expensive and complex compared to traditional retail medications, making it very difficult for patients to access or adhere to these, often leaving them untreated or undertreated as a result. Research shows, for example, that 60% of patients prescribed specialty medications have difficulty in receiving their first dose of therapy with possible delays of up to eight weeks. These challenges mandate organizations to reinvent their patient services models and interact closely with patients, caregivers and other healthcare stakeholders like health care providers, payers or pharmacists.
So how can successful patient services programs drive value for both patients and the business?
THREE SUCCESS FACTORS FOR PATIENT SERVICES
1. Clear Strategy and Mindset Shift
Many life sciences companies have been heavily investing in patient services programs but often these are independently executed by different teams within the organization without central coordination. To break down these silos and coordinate all patient service activities, life sciences companies need a clear enterprise-wide vision to gain employee commitment and an integrated, overarching service strategy. To make the patient service program a success, companies also need to regularly measure its effectiveness by linking the initiatives to KPIs and track and measure their ROI.
2. Unlocking the Power of Data
To directly connect with patients and deliver relevant, personalized services to them, organizations need a clear digital strategy with infrastructure and analytics capabilities to collect and analyze data from a range of sources throughout the patient journey.
Life sciences companies have access to vast and growing amounts of data, but often these are unstructured and siloed in different systems and remain unused. To turn this data into value, companies have to break down data silos by merging all data from multiple sources and format into a single, centralized repository that everyone in the organization can access. To better understand and predict patient’s needs, companies need tools like machine learning and artificial intelligence which allow them to efficiently analyze vast patient data sets and derive valuable insights from these.
3. Understanding Patients’ Needs Across the Patient Journey
To improve the patient experience and ultimately the health outcome, companies need to connect with the patients early on and offer services that respond to their medical and emotional needs along the patient journey from pre-diagnosis to follow-up care. Closed loop engagement with patients enables a detailed understanding of the individual patient journey as well as their unmet needs and the challenges, and helps identify areas in need for innovation.
Traditional patient service programs have mainly included capabilities to improve access, usage, and adherence to prescription drug treatments. Today, these programs comprise care coordination services like patient-provider matching or personal disease coaches, patient enablement tools like patient awareness and education, drug adherence and medication management or patient communities. It also includes patient access services like insurance guidance, financial support programs or refills management and convenience services like transportation management or gamification to manage lifestyle.
A New Vision Is the Cure
In today’s value driven health care system with digital savvy consumers, successful patient services programs require a cultural shift and an enterprise-wide vision and strategy. Truly understanding the patient’s needs and providing individual support and services addressing these needs throughout the patient journey is key to positively influence health outcomes and driving business success. With a patient focused approach and ‘beyond the pill’ service strategy supported by state-of-the-art technology, life science organizations can differentiate their products and secure a competitive advantage both benefitting patients and the business.
 Stanford Medicine 2017 Health Trends Report, “Harnessing the Power of Data in Health”, Stanford Medicine, 2017 / The Digital Universe of Opportunities: Rich Data and the Increasing Value of the Internet of Things,” EMC Digital Universe with Research and Analysis by IDC, April 2014
 Research and Markets (January 2019), “Healthcare Analytics Market by Type Application Component Delivery End User – Global Forecast to 2024”, retrieved October 20, 2020 https://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/4745066/healthcare-analytics-market-by-type-application
 Gallup (December 11, 2019), “One in Five U.S. Adults Use Health Apps, Wearable Trackers”, retrieved October 20, 2020, https://news.gallup.com/poll/269096/one-five-adults-health-apps-wearable-trackers.aspx
 Salesforce, November 2019, “Connected Healthcare Consumer Report”
 CoverMyMeds “Patient and Provider Surveys”, 2020
Partner Life Sciences & Pharma, Infosys Consulting
Keith is an accomplished senior executive, with 30+ years of functional and line-management achievement within the healthcare, life sciences, pharmaceuticals, technology, and consulting industries. He has held senior leadership roles with the likes of Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, IBM, Infosys and Ernst & Young, and has consulted to the great majority of the Top 25 Global Pharmaceutical companies, repeatedly leading large-scale business transformations “from Board-Room, to Shop-Floor, and back”. Keith is a Fellow of The Chartered Institute of Marketing and holds a BA (Hons) in European Business Studies, Strategy and Marketing Communication from the University of Lincoln.