In the first blog, we highlighted the surprising results of our recent survey which showed that despite the rapid delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, the pharma industry only earned a modest increase in trust (defined as  ‘A firm belief in the integrity, strength, truthfulness and competency of someone or something’).

<<< End >>>

Patients’ trust in the pharma industry has been historically low relative to other industries, especially when we consider that they provide medicines that saves lives. In this extraordinary time when pharma companies like Pfizer, Moderna, and now J&J are ‘riding to the rescue’, many health experts had expected a more significant increase in trust ratings. In the eyes of those in the industry, patients have begrudged giving pharma it’s ‘due credit’. That’s not entirely true, as a recent Harris Poll showed that pharma’s reputation increased dramatically with 62% of respondents rating the industry as doing a ‘good job’—up +30 pts vs pre-pandemic—in large part attributable to the rapid vaccine development.

<<< Start >>>

Patients’ trust in the pharma industry has been historically low relative to other industries, especially when we consider that they provide medicines that saves lives.

<<< End >>>

 

While this bump in reputation is certainly good news for the industry, it is quite a different question than the one we asked – how pharma scores in terms of trust. Trust is a critical component to the reputation equation because while short-term actions can temporarily improve public perception, it takes long-term relationship building with the patient community to truly improve trust and cement a better reputation.  Trust must be built with tangible, credible actions and communication sustained over a long time period. And in our survey, patients identified the types of actions which they felt were necessary to shift the ‘trust equation’ towards a more favorable perception. So, what can the pharma industry do to change that?  

What Actions Do Patients Expect from Pharma CEOs? 

When respondents were asked which actions pharma CEO’s could take to improve patient trust (see Chart #2) unsurprisingly, lowering drug prices ranked at the top (83% agree). However, there were a number of actions in both the Commercial and R&D spheres which patients felt would help address this issue.  

<<< Start >>>

<<< End >>>

What’s interesting from these results is that many in pharma would say, “we already do that” (e.g. publish clinical trial results or provide access solutions). However, clearly patients are saying they either aren’t aware of these efforts—as pharma only promotes these actions sporadically and in sub-optimal channels—or they aren’t being executed well-enough. Access and patient assistance programs are particular areas in which pharma typically takes pride in, but given patients’ exacerbated economic challenges in the pandemic, their need goes beyond just discounts – they need help managing their day-to-day lives. In their eyes, pharma needs to step up more both in terms of driving awareness of their existing products & services and then moving towards developing more innovative services ‘beyond the pill’, more directly engaging patients.  

What Can Pharma Learn from Other Industries? 

So now the question is, how can pharma evolve to better engage with patients? To answer that, we asked patients about what lessons pharma should learn from other industries they interact with daily, as customer experience expectations are derived from their everyday lives. We defined “other industries” to include Retail, Consumer Goods, Technology, and Communications (see Chart #3):

<<< Start >>>

<<< End >>>

As almost all major industries’ transformations have been accelerated in the “new-normal”, a common trend has been funneling efforts towards improving customers’ experience. Because pharma has only recently shifted their mindset to focus on patients as customers in addition to healthcare professionals (HCPs), they are behind on the trend relative to other industries.  As the healthcare ecosystem is converging to center around the patient, pharma can shift trust if they transform their patient engagement to holistically and sustainably address patient’s needs, preferences, and values.  

Hope for Earning Trust Remains 

Given the historic mistrust in pharma, some skeptics might say, “Patients won’t ever give us credit…they just don’t understand or like us.” However, our data shows otherwise. The last question we asked patients was if they would recommend a loved one (family/friend) to work for pharma (adapted from the Net Promoter Score, a well-accepted measure of customer perception). We found that there was a ‘reservoir’ of good will towards the industry that can serve as a platform for trust to be built on, as 42% of patients ranked pharma at the high end of the scale (8+ on a 10 point scale). So, despite the negativity reflected in some areas, there is a ‘path to trust’ if pharma takes meaningful action.  

In summary, the results of the survey show that there is hope for strengthening trustworthy patient relationships if the pharma industry decides to focus on continuously improving patients’ lives ‘beyond the pill’ across both Commercial and R&D arenas. 

<<< Start >>>



<<< End >>>

 

Whitney Baldwin

Senior Principal – Patient Experience Center of Excellence, Lead

Subscription Center
Subscribe to Life Sciences Blog Subscribe to Life Sciences Blog