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May 29, 2015
The hidden opportunity in patient services: Results from our global survey​
By: Tony Romito

Accenture’s global patient survey reveal they want healthcare professionals to be the primary source for information on services—how pharma can help.

In my last post, I discussed some of the results of the Accenture patient services survey which revealed the majority of patients are not aware of the services available to them. When patients do become aware of available support and information, there is substantial uptake, and the services are valued highly.

Pharmaceutical companies have an opportunity to meet these needs and our survey uncovers when and how patient services can best be provided.

Services are in demand

Patient services often begin with wanting to learn more about specific conditions (69 percent), which our survey reveals as the most widely-used service. Finding and evaluating specialists is also mentioned as a highly used patient service (68 percent), along with getting information on treatment options (63 percent). In general, the services that patients say they use and value highly are not specifically medical in nature, but are centered on finding and using information.

Patients want their healthcare professionals as their primary source of information on services

87 percent of patients indicated they wanted one point of contact to help them manage their health. The substantial majority of patients (85 percent) want that to be their healthcare professionals. In contrast, patients did not view pharmaceutical companies to be the go-to source for information on services (1%). In-person visits with doctors are the most popular way for patients to gain information (67 percent), but digital channels are a close second at 57 percent, with that percentage rising to 62 for 18-30 year old patients.

How pharmaceutical companies can help

When patients hear about the patient services available to them from their healthcare providers, the services are much more likely to be trusted and valuable. That said, it is well known that healthcare professionals are extremely constrained in their time. Even a patient with a long-term chronic condition may not spend more than a single hour, in total, with a healthcare professional in a typical year, with potentially very little of that time made available specifically to discuss patient services.

But what if the discussion is not about patient services specifically but part of the overall discussion of treating the patient? Not just here is the pill to take, but here is the overall care regiment and support to help the patient follow that regiment throughout the treatment period…or screening for risk factors before the a diagnosis or treatment is determined? These are basic examples of the many ways pharmaceutical companies can play an important role in supporting healthcare professionals and moving towards a partnership in achieving desired patient outcomes.

However, this implies having a very different conversation with healthcare professionals than most pharmaceutical companies are having today. It means not just talking about the drug but talking about the drug AND the services that they provide to help the patient achieve their desired health outcomes. This conversation engages the healthcare professional in a very different way which it turn makes discussing patient services a very natural, if not essential, part of their dialogue with patients.

In my next post I'll go into more detail about how pharmaceutical companies can use patient services to become a much more valued and respected participant in the quest to help patients achieve better health outcomes.

For more information on these key findings and the implications for pharmaceutical companies, please read our full survey: Patient Services – Pharma’s Best Kept Secret.


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