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Digital innovation: A vital piece in life sciences’ patient experience puzzle

25 Oct 2022

Superior patient experience boosts the reputation of life sciences organizations among patients, positively influences clinical outcomes, and has an indirect yet critical impact on life sciences’ bottom line. However, delivering a superior patient experience is anything but easy – it requires significant monetary and time investments, a patient-centric mindset, seamless coordination with care delivery teams, and the right digital means to enrich patient lives wherever possible.

At the Indegene Digital Summit 2022, Carrie Nelson, Chief Medical Officer at Amwell, Anurag Thakore, Senior Director & Head, Digital Operations at Bayer Pharmaceuticals, and Jenn Harrington, Senior Director, Consumer GLP-1 Diabetes at Novo Nordisk explore how life sciences organizations overcome the barriers to patient-centricity and leverage digitization to transform their patient experience.

The key highlights of the session are summarized below.

Treat patient experience as a multidimensional phenomenon

Superior patient experiences can lead to favourable patient health outcomes] But patient experience is a multidimensional phenomenon that requires the adoption of multipronged strategies. Here are some practical tips that life sciences can consider while crafting their patient engagement and experience strategies.

Personalized content - Good quality content sits at the heart of customer experience. To ensure that content strikes the right chord with patients, it must be informative, discoverable, digestible, consistent, accurate, and customized to patients’ needs. By leveraging the power of digitization to decipher patient personas and their respective journeys, life sciences organizations can deliver the right content at the right touchpoint and elevate their experience.

Omnichannel engagement – Creating good quality content is important, but delivering via the relevant channels at the right time, makes it more impactful. In the current day and age, several patients consume information via digital channels such as web portals, mobile applications, or email. But this may not hold for all segments. Some patients may still rely on healthcare professionals (HCPs), and pharmacists for information about drug dosages, schedules, costs, or side effects. Life sciences organizations need to, therefore, develop the appropriate capacities and bring in the right technologies to adopt omnichannel strategies and deliver coherent content via the right mix of online and offline channels in a coordinated manner.

Patient empowerment - Patients rely heavily on HCPs and their caregivers for support throughout their treatment journeys. And, these stakeholders must be empowered with the right means to help the patients effectively. At the same time, it is also essential (or equally important) to enable patients with information that can help them take great control of their health and make informed decisions. Whether it is a website that provides up-to-date drug and disease information or a virtual portal that allows the patient to interact with an HCP or even an app that simplifies treatment regimens, empowering patients with the right means to take charge of their health can help improve patient perceptions about the experience they receive from life sciences organizations, ultimately resulting into better health outcomes.

Empathy - Research undertaken by Harvard Medical School researchers nearly a decade ago demonstrated that empathy and compassion are positively correlated with better treatment adherence, decreased malpractice cases, fewer medical mistakes, and increased patient satisfaction. Life sciences organizations need to, therefore, be compassionate and empathetic in all their interactions with their patients. Weaving emotion and empathy into every layer of the patient journey is vital to delivering of a superior experience that leaves a lasting impression on the patient.

Leverage the power of digitization to connect the dots

From coordinating timely appointments and ensuring easy access to information to streamlining reimbursement approvals, healthcare providers have made great progress in deciphering patient experience puzzle quite efficiently and effectively.

For life sciences organizations, however, this is a completely different ball game. Misaligned touchpoints across the treatment journey, be it with payers, HCPs, nurse practitioners, or pharmacists can negatively impact the patient's ability to procure the medication or take it correctly, ultimately culminating in poor outcomes and a tarnished brand reputation.

Life sciences organizations need to, therefore, find innovative ways to collaborate with all these stakeholders to provide a consistent experience throughout the treatment journeys. For instance, digital infrastructure such as virtual healthcare platforms, digital patient information portals, connected pharmacies, and treatment scheduling application can help in providing a consistent experience.

Build systems to measure and optimize the patient experience

There are some key influencing moments in every patient’s journey that have a grave impact on their decision to choose and remain on treatment. Identifying these moments and deriving insights around them can help define baselines and optimize their patient experience. To do this, life sciences organizations need to develop a technology-led data performance framework that powers real-time insights about dynamic patient needs and helps them forecast future trends to decide their next-best-action. Additionally, a talented workforce with relevant skills and an agile mindset can help life sciences organizations to stay on top of their patient experience game.

HCP experience and patient experience go hand-in-hand

Life sciences organizations have handled patient experience and HCP experience in a disjointed manner for a long time. This has to change – both these pillars need to be managed coherently. While defining their patient experience strategies, life sciences organizations need to map out HCP journeys to identify key moments where delivering a superior HCP experience can positively impact their interaction with the patient. Adopting such an approach can help organizations reduce patient drop-off rates at key inflection points, bolster therapy adherence, and improve clinical outcomes.

Parting thoughts

Delivering a superior patient experience requires life sciences organizations to put the patient at the front and center of everything they do – from product development roadmaps to commercial and clinical strategies. Organizations need to remember that delivering a superior patient experience is more like a marathon than a sprint – it is not an exercise that can be mastered in a day. By leveraging the power of digital innovation and a patient-centric workforce, life sciences organizations can consistently evolve their experiences to keep up with the everchanging preferences and needs of patients.