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How Can Pharma Companies Keep Up with Evolving Patient Expectations?

1 Feb 2022

It is well-known that pharma mainly exists to enrich patient lives and improve health outcomes. Yet, most of pharma’s capabilities, processes, and investments focus on honing engagements with healthcare professionals (HCPs). The digital era has molded a new kind of intelligent and empowered patient, who knows exactly what they want and wishes to be actively involved in their health journey. While pharma companies are aware of this shift in patient expectations, they find it challenging to adopt patient-centricity in a scalable and impactful manner.

The great (patient) expectations

With a surge in the number of expert-driven health and wellness digital portals, patients now have easy access to information for which they previously relied on doctors. This development has led patients to become active participants in their healthcare journeys and strengthened their ask to be directly engaged by pharma companies.

Furthermore, high customer experience (CX) benchmarks set by other industries such as automobile, retail and finance mean that patients are now more likely to expect the same standards from pharma companies. While it is true that the level of information, motivation and behavioral engagement required for a pharma product is very different from a consumer product, in terms of CX that is immaterial.

While several forward-thinking pharma companies are building infrastructure and capabilities to cater to these changing needs of patients, numerous others are finding it difficult to change mindsets and transform business models. This is evident in a recent report published by DT Consulting (an Indegene company) that measured patients’ interactions with pharma firms. Using their CXQ® framework, which measures the performance of key customer experiences against the competition, they found the pharma industry to be consistently poor, with pharma as a whole receiving an overall score of 30 out of 100 (compared to a score of 77 for its HCP interactions).

How can pharma companies adopt patient-centricity in a sustainable & scalable manner?

In order to become truly patient-centric, pharma companies need to rethink their business models, metamorphose their commercial strategies, and begin designing solutions and services around the patient.

Here are some suggestions that can help pharma companies take their fundamental steps towards giving their patient-engagement strategy that much needed face-lift.

  • Invest in building unmediated relationships with patients
    Traditionally, pharma companies have shied away from communicating directly with patients and understanding their needs. They have heavily relied on doctors and patient advocacy groups to provide insights. This has to change! Pharma companies have to invest in being transparent towards patients, understanding their issues, building two-way interactions and delivering value even before the patient uses the drug.

    Develop holistic patient support programs that cater to specific patient needs
    Until now, patient support programs have mainly focused on improving medication access by providing financial assistance. However, pharma companies need to listen to patients and decipher their pain points to identify relevant ways in which they can provide support. They have to understand that the sort of assistance a patient with multiple sclerosis may need is different from a patient with diabetes. Pharma companies need to adopt a more holistic approach by introducing offerings such as telehealth services, counselling support, and chronic disease management to make their programs relevant to a given therapeutic area.

    Leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to boost patient engagements at every touchpoint
    Technology can serve as a master key towards providing superior patient experiences and raising the bar for customer engagement. For example, conversational AI chatbots can help pharma customize interactions with patients, and provide quick, seamless, and error-free access to brand and product information. Technology-driven insights and patient analytics can accelerate time to market and increase the personalization of communication across digital channels.

    Be empathetic
    Pharma companies need to understand that patients are under tremendous physical, emotional and financial stress. They need to interpret the nuances of the patient ecosystem and be compassionate whilst conversing with patients. This suggestion is consistent with the research undertaken by Harvard Medical School researchers nearly a decade ago. Their findings demonstrated that empathy and compassion are positively correlated with better treatment adherence, decreased malpractice cases, fewer medical mistakes, and increased patient satisfaction.

In a nutshell

The modern-day patient has transcended from being a passive spectator to an active participant in their healthcare journey. Pharma organizations need to let go of their reservations about stepping away from their traditional product-centric approach and invest in building two-way conversations with patients. Providing better support and building deeper relationships with patients will positively impact patient safety, medication adherence, and health outcomes.

If you found this blog insightful, we are sure that you will enjoy reading our recently published whitepaper titled, 'Transform Patient Experience with Intelligent Hyper-Personalization'.This paper explores the finer nuances of patient-centricity and how pharma companies can overhaul their patient engagement strategies to provide superior experiences.


Arindam De
Arindam De