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October 24, 2014
Patient power at Dreamforce 2015
By: Anne O'Riordan

The focus on patients and the connected healthcare ecosystem were the main themes in the four days of dedicated Health & Life Sciences breakouts at Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce conference last week in San Francisco. In a high octane week, headlined by Hilary Clinton with guest appearances from Will.i.am, Al Gore, Ariana Huffington and Neil Young, the focus on how digital and cloud are transforming the industry by enabling the “consumerization” of patients was palpable. In sessions which brought together payers, providers and life sciences manufacturers, it was evident that never before has the industry had such an amazing opportunity and a clear need to come together in support of the patient.

During a panel discussion on “The Future of Patient and Physician Collaboration in the Cloud” with executives from Teva, Allergan and Roche Diagnostics, the excitement around being able to provide better services and care to patients by collaborating with other participants in the industry permeated the discussion. Many of the panelists felt providing services in addition to just products to patients was essential moving forward.

Accenture’s own study on patient needs last year substantiated this with evidence that 76% of patients think pharmaceutical companies have a responsibility to provide information and services that help them manage their own health, yet in many cases, very few are receiving them. Several panelists cited programs already in play that are putting patients and consumers at the heart of their business. One challenge discussed was getting that true, holistic view of the patient when different stakeholders (payers, providers, physicians, etc.) each have just a slice of the picture. Clearly this is where cloud, analytics and collaboration will be essential to creating that singular view, but doing so will require breaking down silos both inside and outside individual organizations.

This discussion was furthered during Accenture’s Commercial Leaders Forum for Life Sciences which gathered a smaller group of Commercial IT executives together to discuss the future of patient services. All acknowledged a deep need for more convergence and collaboration across the healthcare system, but that there was no clear model set yet.

One critical success factor cited was starting with the patient or customer, not the content. For example, one participant asked “What value can pharmaceutical companies uniquely bring to the patients or physicians that no other companies can? Marketers have typically pushed out content, but it is value-add services that create stickiness.” Another commented, “How do we as an industry combine forces to make this complex process better and easier for the average person?” Another participant added, “Everyone thinks doctors want to read our latest trial study but they don’t. We need to come up with something that is innovative – not just content but a real time saver.”

This strikes me as one of the most exciting times to be in healthcare. As I shared with Peter Coffey, VP of Strategic Research at Salesforce.com during our live chat on the future of the industry, I truly believe the rise of the “outside in” organization will be a game changer—where collaboration in support of the patient becomes a collective goal that can be profitably achieved by all in much more cost effective ways than we have in place today.

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