As digital health professionals, we mainly focus on clinics and their behaviors towards all the disruptive changes they face in everyday life.
We learned to understand when they prefer to be contacted, through which channels, and which are the more appropriate contents they are interested in. In simple words: we learned to use a Next Best Action approach.
What we should always consider while improving our daily work and discovering new engagement and communication strategies for clinics, is that there is an actor that has been and will always be the center of the healthcare ecosystem. This stakeholder is the patient.
The importance of patient involvement in the healthcare system
In fact, Patient Centricity was the key topic of the 2022 edition of the Frontiers Health Global Conference organized by Healthware Group that took place in Milan on the last 21st and 22nd of October. The topic has been approached from different angles, as it is clear that pharmaceutical companies are realizing that there is no single right way to achieve the goal and that the collection of patient data is a key element.
One of the most interesting sessions was about Patient Centricity in a Digital World, with experts such as Chiara Gnocchi, Country Communication and Patient Engagement Head of Novartis, Ruby Sangha, Digital solutions leader and Board Trustees at Sarcoma UK and Oliver Stohlmann, Corporate Survival Hacks, moderated by Paul Tunnah, CCO and Managing Director UK of Healthware Group.
The session was very interactive and the concept of Patient Centricity was explored in its different meanings. It can mean listening (Oliver Stohlmann), involvement (Ruby Sangha), or step-by-step support (Chiara Gnocchi). This means a bilateral relationship where information is given and received directly from the patient, not with the only objective of improving customer satisfaction but rather for a sense of advocacy and education, with the aim also to bring about product and service improvement.
However, it is necessary to confront the lack of trust in the use of data by patients. Data or consent to their use must be given voluntarily so that clients can benefit from a more accurate and personalised service and pharma companies can establish a relationship of controlled trust.
One could therefore speak of ‘patient party data’ for all those insights that can be passed on to the pharma as a patient throughout their journey.
This slow change in consumer mindset, facilitated by telemedicine, will definitely accelerate the achievement of Patient Centricity.
From Patient Centricity to Patient Engagement
In order to improve outcomes, products and services, Life Sciences companies, digital health service providers and healthcare institutions need to take the patient journey into great consideration to enhance the entire patient experience, now more than ever.
Patients are not only one of the topics discussed at conferences and round tables, but they become more and more protagonists by telling us about their lives, their treatment and their direct experience. In fact, they are the primary source of fresh and continuously updated information, as they experience the disease first-hand.
Therefore, they are not only fundamental to all precision medicine and tailor-made treatments but are essential to better understanding how to approach the entire journey of all healthcare professionals and institutions, from prevention and diagnosis to treatments, information, and data collection.
We should stop presuming to know what they really need and start listening to patients, create specific patient-oriented roles within companies, and ensure that patients and their representatives are involved when discussing the present and future of healthcare. It is sure that they bring invaluable insights to the table.
Data collection and insights
Regarding all the information available on the market, today we have numerous sources involving different stakeholders. How can we get the best and most qualified data from patients?
The quality and accuracy of data are increasing because the human factor is less involved, but the difficulty is finding the best and most certified sources of information.
One of the main actions of Life Science companies is the creation of portals in which to collect all kinds of data from patients, but sometimes the work ends once the portal is completed, while it is essential to realise that this is only the beginning of the journey.
In order not to create empty boxes, patients must continuously provide new information and companies and institutions have the task of keeping websites alive and up-to-date. But why should the patient be motivated to provide data? To certainly get something in return: a better and more personalised service, a more effective and timely treatment, the feeling of being a real participant in the process, and an active and recognised stakeholder.
In conclusion, only with the combination of data collection, information sharing and active patient participation the healthcare system could really radically change and contribute to the future of healthcare.