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August 26, 2022

How can pharma companies meet the need for a better patient experience?

Healthcare is becoming increasingly patient-centric. The shift is driving changes around patient expectations with pharma companies, too.
patient experience for pharma

In the wake of the pandemic, healthcare quickly embraced the concept of patient centricity. Prioritizing the customer experience (CX) across every interaction is proven to increase clarity and improve patient outcomes, but it’s also become necessary to meet ever-changing patient expectations.

“Previously, patients were the informed: they received care from organizations with processes they often didn’t understand, let alone have a say in. Now, they are the approver: patients seek tools to drive and manage their care and decide whether the product meets their expectations. The organization must deliver on those expectations.” – IBM

Healthcare services have largely embraced telehealth and other digital health tools to keep pace with patient demands for improved customer experiences. But healthcare is by its very nature patient-facing, and it makes sense to adopt a patient-centric culture when one-on-one care is under consideration. But what about in the drug development process, where direct patient contact is less of a factor? Is the patient experience still relevant for pharma companies?

Current CX shortcomings

A recent report by DT consulting – The State of Customer Experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry – highlights how a lack of patient centricity damages pharmaceutical companies and affects patient outcomes. The report states, “The pharmaceutical industry has yet to provide patients with a good customer experience. Consequently, pharma firms are not maximizing their opportunities to improve health outcomes. There is a significant misalignment between how the pharmaceutical industry provides patients with information and services and how patients would like to receive them. Furthermore, how pharma companies use all the channels available to them do not currently meet patient needs.”

Handpicked related content: explore the benefits of a patient-centric culture

The report reveals some significant shortfalls in pharma company customer experience. Across all communication channels, pharma companies failed to meet expectations in their interactions with customers – no channel scored greater than ‘fair’ in terms of patient satisfaction. When all interactions were considered, pharma companies scored just 28 out of 100 for customer experience.

Of even greater interest to pharma companies is what this report suggests about the impact of poor customer experience. The study showed that patients are 2.6 times more likely to ‘do nothing’ after engaging with a pharma company if their experience was poor compared to those who had an excellent experience.

The study suggests a direct link between customer experience and patient outcomes:

“High-quality CX can improve patient health via benefits in decision-making, disease management, and treatment effectiveness.” – DT Consulting

However, the inverse is also true, with poor pharma experiences shown to undermine patient health. 88% of respondents said excellent customer experience positively impacted the effectiveness of their treatment, while 48% said poor customer experience had the opposite effect. 75% suggested excellent CX had a significant positive change to managing their pain, condition, or disease, with 53% feeling the negative impact of poor CX. Finally, an incredible 75% of respondents said that a good pharma customer experience had a positive impact on their quality of life, while poor customer experience decreased the quality of life for 55% of respondents.

Adopting a patient-centric culture

The DT Consulting report shows how patient centricity can improve patient outcomes, even when adopted by pharma companies. And it’s not just patients who stand to benefit. A patient-centric culture can enable pharma companies to create new opportunities, increase revenues, and enhance the image of their brands.

“As companies continue to strive to be more patient-centric, there are important opportunities available by listening better to patients’ expectations.” – DT Consulting

A good patient experience is not only of relevance to pharma companies but essential if organizations are to meet changing patient expectations and stay competitive in a fast-moving market. By adopting digital tools, pharma companies can start delivering patient-centric experiences throughout the drug development lifecycle.

So how can pharma companies meet this unmet need and gain business advantage in the process? Technology – specifically insights management technology that’s designed for life science teams – provides tools that pharma companies can use to rethink their approach to the patient experience.

Asynchronous virtual engagement is the technology behind better patient engagement throughout the product development process – from understanding what it’s like to live with a specific condition to gathering feedback on proposed trial protocols or patient support materials. When patients can interact with pharma teams from their homes and on their own schedule, they are more likely to participate meaningfully. Virtual venues also offer the reassurance of privacy, which helps pharma teams to remain compliant.

Network analytics gives life science teams a clearer picture of disease communities, empowering clinical teams to make better-informed site selections that are more appropriate for the patient populations required for any given trial. Medical affairs teams may use this capability to identify and choose KOLs with expertise in specific patient populations, resulting in better treatments.

Sentiment analysis gives an insight into what patients are thinking. When combined with social listening, sentiment analysis can be used to monitor how patients feel about a particular company, drug, or trial. These insights help pharma companies address poor customer experience and adopt a more patient-centric approach.

Healthcare organizations are widely adopting patient-centricity, but the time has come for pharma companies to step up their efforts too.

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