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May 19, 2016
The future of patient services is bright
By: Anthony Romito, Ramon Pressburger & Eva Wiedenhöft

Patient services are delivering value today with a significant increase in focus and investment is expected over the next two years.

This is an exciting time in our industry for patients and caregivers as the healthcare industry increasingly focused on delivering better patient and economic outcomes. It is also an exciting time for pharmaceutical executives who have roles related to patient services and improving patient centricity. I often get asked by pharma executives “what are other companies doing in patient services? How much are they investing? What services are they focusing on?”

At Accenture, we are fortunate to have a great deal of exposure to this through the patient services work we are doing with clients every day but we also wanted to bring definitive, market-based benchmarks to our clients. And not just about what’s happening today—but what the future holds so they could make much more informed decisions based on pure fact—not supposition. We conducted a survey with more than 200 patient services executives in the pharma industry across the United States and Europe to see where they stood in term of their focus on and investment in patient services. And guess what? Patient services is hot.

Patient services are delivering real value—nine of the top ten most prevalent services and service—related capabilities offered today are driving above—average business impact.

Top ten services offered vs Business impact (cited by companies in top three)

There is also clear evidence there will be a significant ramp up in investment in patient support services. Most (85 percent) of respondents said they plan to raise their investments in capabilities in this area over the next two years. Just half (51 percent) of respondents report that their capabilities here are strong today.

Although respondents say that they have made little progress over the last two years in becoming more patient-centric, the have big plans to better support patients in the future, exemplified by the increase in depth and breadth of patient services they intend to offer. Almost all of the companies surveyed (91 percent) expect to offer six or more patient services over the next two years, up from 73 percent of those offering six or more today. The average number of patient services offered by pharmaceutical companies is expected to increase by more than 50 percent in two years. Some of the biggest increases are anticipated in benefit coverage and access support, health counselors and adherence program management.

Top 12 (of 24) services to be offered within next two years (ranked by expected increase)

While it’s clear that pharmaceutical companies are committed to increasing, expanding and improving patient services, there are a number of potential barriers to delivering on the desired objective of improving patient outcomes.

Perhaps the most striking challenge is simply making patients aware that these services exist. Our 2015 survey of 10,000 patients around the world revealed that fewer than one in five patients are aware of the services that are available to them through the companies that supply their therapeutics.

Why is that? According to our survey, most pharma companies go through healthcare professionals to make patients aware of their services, which is how patients prefer to hear about them. But clearly that information is not making its way to patients in the vast majority of cases. Healthcare professionals are either not relaying information about services to their patients, or not doing so in a way that makes them memorable for patients.

Articulating the patient and economic value of services needs to be central to healthcare professional interactions. Rather than treating services as an afterthought when they talk with healthcare professionals, pharma companies should frame their conversations about the outcomes that can be achieved through the combination of products AND services. Once healthcare professionals view the bundled solution as integral to achieving better outcomes, they will naturally be more inclined to discuss the solution with patients.

In my next post, I’ll examine a second key finding from our survey of patient services executives—companies are going big with investments in digital technologies.

In the meantime, to learn more, read The Patient Is IN: Pharma’s Growing Opportunity in Patient Services

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