Patient Focused. Patient Centric. Patient First. There are lots of buzzwords companies use to describe their aspirations for a new focus on patients. But as my 8th grade Latin teacher once told me,
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
Whatever phrase your company uses, here are three prescriptions on how to “walk the talk” of patient centricity in 2015 (and avoid a dance with the devil):
1. Fully infuse the voice of the patient into drug development. Historically, patient marketers are among the last to join pre-commercial or even launch teams. To be more patient focused, teams need to be staffed with patient experts early in the game.
And once in the game, these patient marketers should make development of customer service and adherence programs the first order of business. As payers and patients have to increasingly make cost/quality trade-offs, it will be critical that marketers can prove that their patient services actually make a difference in adherence rates, patient experience and clinical outcomes.
In fact, patient services already a factor into 3rd party purchase decisions. For example, according to a Duke physician I heard speak at a conference, Eliquis was chosen over competitors because the brand had the strongest co-pay assistance program.
Or just listen. Patients in clinical trials are already shaping opinions of the drug through their online conversations. An extrovertic social media analysis found an average of 30,000 patient conversations taking a place every month by patients involved a clinical trial.
2. Partner with providers and payers to meaningfully improve the patient experience at the point of care. HCPs, Integrated Delivery Systems and Payers are going to be judged on outcomes and patient experience. Pharmaceutical companies have the know-how and resources to help their customers meet the triple aim of improving patient experience, lowering costs and driving better outcomes. Take a look at all the governmental metrics requirements and pick a few to partner on.
It will also be important to have an expansive definition of point-of-care, both in terms of place where care happens and the people who provide the care. Care is now being highly distributed, it’s happening at home, at the retail pharmacy, at work, at Costco and at urgent care centers. And with the looming primary care physician shortage, care will be increasingly be delivered by nurses, physician assistants and even lay health workers.
And let’s not forget the increasing role patients are playing in their own health with the explosion of wearable technology and the whole quantified-self movement. The point of care is now everywhere and the smart pharmaceutical marketers will be conducting pilots to figure out how they can add to the patient experience.
3. Adopt a cross-channel patient experience framework to conduct marketing activities. A good patient experience is one that is consistent throughout every interaction, whether it be through a website, a phone call or in person meeting. Many of these touchpoints are managed by different functions in a pharmaceutical company, yet to the consumer it all comes from the same company. So the company has got to start acting like one company.
And this one organization needs to be reoriented towards driving patient satisfaction rather than driving sales. Driving satisfaction doesn’t mean revenue generation takes a back seat. A whole body of literature supports that higher customer satisfaction scores result in higher sales and profits, in industry after industry.
But first the voice of the patient needs to be heard. This will require an integrated system of collecting patient feedback in a way it can be acted upon. For example, how well is the medical information call center doing in meeting patient needs? I would guess most marketers don’t know.
So take these 3 Rx’s and make 2015 the year that pharma companies turn patient centric talk into action. (And Mr. Riggs, I really did “disce diligentius.”)