Moving beyond patient services to patient experience

A call to action for biopharmas

By Gerry McCormick and Mike Hendon

When does the whole equal more than the sum of its parts? When a patient has a positive “whole” experience with each of their interactions across the complex ecosystem of healthcare stakeholders. And when the “whole” becomes a competitive advantage for the biopharmaceutical companies that can better connect with their patients, moving beyond discrete patient services to true consumer-centric engagement.

Today’s patients are more in control of their healthcare than ever before. With digital access to information, patients can tap into sources ranging from clinicians to drug manufacturers to patient advocacy groups—all before they arrive at their physician’s office. Equipped with preformed opinions about their condition and possible treatment paths, patients are challenging, driving, and demanding more from the healthcare ecosystem. They are expecting interactions to be tailored to their desired style of engagement, to move beyond traditional patient services such as education and financial assistance, and to encompass a broader scope of services to engage patients in new ways. These interactions should be more consumer- and outcomes-centric and employ digital, real-time, and multichannel communication strategies that produce a meaningful, personalized human experience.

The future of patient engagement

Delivering a human experience is the future of patient engagement—and the key to building meaningful relationships with more patients amid changing consumer expectations. Biopharma companies have a unique opportunity to harness trends and technologies to improve patient engagement and experience. Key enablers—among them, a proliferation of health care data and advanced analytics to generate deeper insights—are creating opportunities for personalized, omnichannel digital content. There also is growing awareness in the biopharma C-suite that best-in-class organizations—those which successfully transition from brand-centric to consumer-centric engagement—follow a time-tested strategy:

  • Own the data. Not only do consumer-centric companies bring customer data together across multiple channels and functions, they stitch together the data for each individual, to create the coveted “single view of the customer” and cross-leverage that data for marketing, sales, and service decisions. Owning the data also allows the company to provide tactical customer service in real time.
  • Own the decision. Consumer-centric companies use machine learning to determine how, when, and which content to deliver to best engage with each person, improve CX decision-making across the entire customer life cycle (from acquisition through loyalty/retention), and optimize to specific outcomes (e.g., conversions, clicks, views, and upsells).
  • Own the delivery. These companies connect marketing and ad technologies with customer data platforms to enable a seamless, end-to-end customer experience across all touchpoints and deliver personalized, real-time content at the right moments in the customer journey to optimize outcomes.

When done right, consumer-centric patient engagement and experience drive value across the biopharma organization (figure 1). Benefits can grow exponentially over time and create significant competitive advantage.

Figure 1. Patient engagement and experience build value and competitive advantage

The five pillars of true patient engagement

How can biopharma companies extend their reach beyond patient services to true patient engagement and a human experience? Transformation relies on five pillars that support an integrated patient journey calibrated to a human (and personalized) decision process:

  1. See the whole person. Understand what motivates patients and where they are on the adoption ladder.
  2. Sense and respond. Use predictive analytics and behavioral data to proactively engage with, and create relevant value for every patient at the right moment and in the right channel.
  3. Have a dialogue. Shift the balance away from episodic marketing tactics toward a long-term, iterative dialog across the end-to-end journey.
  4. Go beyond the four walls. Connect the dots across a distributed health care ecosystem and into new partnerships and alliances; enable bilateral data sharing.
  5. Integrate across teams and platforms. Focus on the patient and present a unified voice across, health care provider, patient, and therapeutic area (TA) brand strategy to orchestrate a seamless omnichannel experience across touchpoints.

Companies also need to consider the technology capabilities they have or need to build/acquire to enable cohesive engagement throughout the patient journey. These should comprise a connected suite of platforms and services—including connected devices/applications, relationship management, insight-driven analytics, and marketing—to support patients and weave data-driven personalization into touchpoints along the patient journey.

Finally, when considering how to strengthen patient engagement, biopharma companies may have to work harder than physicians and other ecosystem stakeholders who interact more directly and frequently with patients. All interactions between biopharma and patients should be easy, meaningful, and provide substantive value.

Our market analysis shows that, currently, a few leading biopharmas are successfully advancing along the patient engagement continuum (figure 2). Still, the large majority of biopharmas, both small and large, are demonstrating limited forward progress. Some have implemented a common patient services platform; even fewer have started to integrate meaningful analytics or marketing into the patient experience. Generally, it’s easier for smaller, more agile organizations to transform, but that doesn’t mean big biopharmas should wait to do so. In fact, the time to act is now.

Figure 2. Advancing along the patient engagement continuum

Taking on the challenge

As is the case with any major transition, biopharma companies evolving their focus from patient services to patient engagement and experience are likely to encounter challenges along the way. First and foremost, transformation requires an organizational mind shift: How do you behave differently when you put the patient at the center of everything you do…when engagement becomes less about brand marketing to generate demand with physicians to educating and guiding patients in their health care journey? What technological and operational changes are needed to enable and support this shift?

For example, strengthening engagement requires data sharing across systems and functions to produce a comprehensive view of patient-company interactions. However, siloed organization and technology structures—quite common for biopharma manufacturers—typically mean siloed technology stacks. These disparate technology systems aren't really talking to each other, resulting in disjointed data collection, aggregation, analysis, and reporting. Other pitfalls we’ve seen in the industry or during client projects include lack of internal resources to curate data, resulting in companies having to rely on third-party vendors and agencies; and lack of central data governance or ownership, resulting in inconsistent processes and questionable data quality.

The pursuit of a seamless, meaningful patient experience should be a top priority for all participants in the health care ecosystem, including biopharma companies. By leveraging dynamic patient data and integrating marketing and support services in a continuous, informed, and humanistic approach, companies can better sense and respond to patients’ and caregivers’ needs in all the moments that matter across the journey from diagnosis and therapy to recovery and wellness.

Read part two of the series to learn how to produce the insights needed for a meaningful human experience.

Get in touch

Gerry McCormick
Deloitte Consulting LLP

Michael Hendon
Senior Manager
Deloitte Consulting LLP

Fullwidth SCC. Do not delete! This box/component contains JavaScript that is needed on this page. This message will not be visible when page is activated.

Did you find this useful?