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May 06, 2014
‘Always On’ Patients are Changing the Game for Pharma Companies (3 of 4)
By: Shawn Roman

When it comes to patient services, giving patients more of what they want represents a significant opportunity for pharmaceutical companies, but that’s just part of the equation. Today’s ‘always on’ patients use digital and non-digital channels to access information and services related to their health and medication, and this means pharma will need to consider a range of communications channels when connecting to the people who matter most to them.

Patients are taking some matters into their own hands
According to our survey of 2,000 US patients:

  • The majority—80 percent—of patients are proactively seeking information about the medicines they are taking.

  • More than 70 percent of patients seek out information on healthcare services related to their conditions.

  • More than two-thirds—68 percent—of patients/consumers spend several hours a day online. This includes 69 percent of those older than 65.

Traditional communication is important for patients, but digital is gaining ground
We found that patients’ preferences for receiving information vary by source, channel and format. Traditional channels have high preference, but digital is rapidly gaining ground. That’s why, as I shared with you last week, we’re working with a leading global pharma company as it launches an anti-obesity drug in the United States, to provide patient services across multiple channels, many of which are digital.

This multi-channel communications approach is welcome news to many patients. Our survey results reveal:

  • Patients place the highest trust in information provided by their physicians via print or by e-mail.

  • Patients want pharma companies to reach them via digital and social means with 69 percent wanting to be reached by e-mail versus 66 percent via print materials.

  • Nearly half—48 percent—of patients want pharma companies to reach them via a website with a strong 44 percent through mobile apps.

Some pharma companies are leading the charge in these areas—especially when it comes to mobile health. AstraZeneca, for example, recently partnered with Vodafone to launch mHealth patient services. The collaboration will create new mobile and Internet-based services to improve health outcomes for patients with cardiovascular conditions. Patients will have access to educational materials—personalized for their needs—and will benefit from coaching and treatment support.

The job for pharma companies now is to take a close look at their current portfolio and identify where these services could benefit patients and the business, while supporting provider, retailer, payer and patient goals. As we’re already seeing, some specialty drugs, such as oncologic or lifestyle drugs, such as obesity and smoking cessation, may be even better suited for patient services. The ability to provide accessible, useful patient services will help pharma companies elevate their value across the healthcare ecosystem, improving health outcomes for patients. And, while our survey findings point to some very significant opportunities for pharma companies moving forward, we have to wonder if the need for patient services will really change how pharma operates? And if so, how?

Next week I’ll conclude this series by looking at how patient services could affect the pharmaceutical industry.

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