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April 22, 2014
Why pharma companies can’t ignore patient services (1 of 4)
By: Shawn Roman

Patients are more in control of their health than ever before, but they’re looking for more – including help from pharma companies – to do it. We surveyed 2,000 patients in the United States to better understand how respondents view patient services from pharmaceutical companies. Not only did we learn about what patients want from pharma, we gained a clear understanding of what patients expect from pharma, and it’s these expectations that kick off our blog series examining some of the most salient findings of our recent survey.

Most patients don’t just want patient services—they expect them
Consumers are used to receiving personalized and value-add services in support of the products they purchase. After all, this customized service is common across almost every consumer-facing industry from retail to telecomm, hi-tech and travel.

Should pharma be any different? Not according to our survey results:

  • More than 75 percent of patients think pharma companies have a responsibility to provide information and services that help patients manage their own health.

  • Nearly as many respondents—74 percent—indicate that the most appropriate time to initiate outreach is when they start taking a medication. Keep in mind, however, half of respondents are open to receiving assistance after they have begun a course of treatment or are considering switching.

Measuring up to patients’ expectations: How is pharma doing?
Surprisingly, there is a significant gap between the services that patients want and what they’re receiving. For instance, rewards programs have the largest gap between those wanting the service—63 percent—and only 10 percent receiving it. Following rewards, patients want product information (53 percent), financial assistance (51 percent), and measuring and tracking (35 percent). Only 20 percent say they receive the latter.

Several drug companies are taking note. GlaxoSmithKline, for example, worked with MedTrust to launch an app that locates nearby clinical trials, and Merck’s MerckEngage provides consumers with health education on everything from weight to diabetes to blood pressure.

These are just some of the ways pharma companies are helping to educate and inform patients, but are their efforts paying off? Are patients satisfied with what’s available to them? Next week, I’ll examine this question and other related findings from our survey.

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