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June 16, 2016
Raising investment in digital engagement technologies & analytics in patient services
By: Tony Romito

Many companies are directing their largest investments toward technologies that interface with patients and healthcare professionals.

In our recent survey of 203 patient services executives in the United States and Europe, we discovered that pharmaceutical companies are going big with investments in digital technologies and supporting analytics.

Aware that patients have access to an ever-growing array of information relating to their healthcare through their phones, computers and the like, the vast majority of companies (95 percent) plan to invest in patient engagement technologies over the next 18 months.

95% of companies are planning to invest in patient engagement technologies over the next 18 months.

Many companies are directing their largest investments in this area toward technologies that interface with patients and healthcare professionals. But analytics and reporting metric technologies are also a priority, along with patient data management technologies. The smart connected device is the fourth largest area of planned investment.

Digital channels of communication dominate when it comes to making patients aware of services whether a company is going through healthcare professionals, healthcare providers (such as hospitals or clinics), or directly to the patient. When companies communicate with patients through healthcare providers, in-person communication ranks the highest, but digital channels—social media and web pages—command the second and third positions. And when companies communicate directly with patients, all three top channels overall are digital—social media, web pages and online communities.

These results vary slightly between respondents in the United States and in Europe. In the US, television is the number one way in which pharmaceutical companies communicate directly with patients or consumers, with social media and web page coming in second and third. In Europe, social media, direct emails and online communities are the top three ways in which companies communicate directly with patient consumers.

But when it comes to investing more in patient services, pharmaceutical companies face a number of challenges. One is that there is a marked contrast between the reason they are investing in patient services—to improve patient outcomes—and their ability to measure patient outcomes. Although the number one objective for investing in patient services across the United States and Europe is to improve patient outcomes, fewer than half of respondents reported that their companies can precisely measure their impact on patient outcomes.

Improved patient outcomes are the #1 objective in oering patient services. Less than half of companies are able to precisely measure the impact of their services on outcomes.

In the future, pharmaceutical companies will be increasingly assessed on their ability to create value at the population level and for healthcare systems overall. It won’t be enough to supply a therapeutic with a proven clinical value. What will matter is how that therapeutic performs in the population it intends to help. And performance will be measured in a real world setting.

That’s why pharmaceutical companies must sharpen their ability to quantify the results of their therapeutics—both for patient value and internally for sustaining investments in these programs. Market leaders will focus on capturing the impact of their services, and use this information to adapt what they provide and to differentiate themselves, beyond the therapeutic benefits of their drugs, from their competitors.

In my next post, I’ll examine the third key finding from our survey—whether the investment in these services align to what patients’ value.

To learn more, read: The Patient Is IN: Pharma’s Growing Opportunity in Patient Services

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