Patient Care Access News

Knowledge Gaps in Pharma Services Limit Patient Engagement

Only 40 percent of clinicians have a strong enough knowledge of pharma patient services, which considerably limits patient engagement with the products.

pharma patient services patient engagement

Source: Thinkstock

By Sara Heath

- Knowledge gaps about pharmaceutical patient services are keeping healthcare providers from recommending useful services to patients and also limit patient engagement with these services, according to an Accenture survey.

The survey of over 350 healthcare professionals showed that clinicians are the main conduit in driving patient engagement in pharmaceutical patient offerings. Eighty percent of pharma companies rely on clinicians to promote and explain services to patients and to facilitate patient buy-in.

However, only 40 percent of clinicians reported to Accenture that they are aware of these pharmaceutical offerings. Fifty-five percent said they are only somewhat aware of patient-facing services offered by pharma companies. Limited service awareness keeps clinicians from having informative discussions with patients.

This lack of understanding could stem from limited or inadequate conversations between clinician and pharmaceutical representatives. Most clinicians (70 percent) learn about pharmaceutical services from their respective representatives, but nearly half of clinicians said they only talk about these offerings about a quarter of the time.

Healthcare providers hear about patient services even less using other lines of communication. Medical professionals learn about these services via email, on websites, or over portals less than 25 percent of the time.

These findings are unfortunate, according to Accenture Managing Director of North American Intelligent Patient Services Tony Romito.

Previous Accenture research has found that 76 percent of patients want pharma companies to release patient services that complement products. Eighty-five percent of pharmaceutical companies have made this a priority, but only 19 percent of patients know about that.

“Our previous research revealed patients want, value and expect patient services from pharmaceutical companies,” Romito said in a statement. “The fact that pharmaceutical companies’ main conduit for this information — healthcare practitioners — aren’t very aware of these services presents a significant opportunity.”

“The industry can improve the impact they are having with patients if they can more effectively engage healthcare professionals around the availability and benefits of their support programs,” Romito added.

Pharmaceutical companies can improve the way they teach clinicians about patient-facing pharma services by catering to what clinicians and patients value. Overwhelmingly, patients and providers just want treatments and services that will promote patient wellness.

However, pharma reps aren’t using the right sales pitch on these clinicians. Only three in 10 pharma reps actually discuss the clinical benefits of patient services, making clinicians less likely to adopt the tools.

Two-thirds of pharma reps present patient services as an add-on to pharmaceutical products instead of as a tool to help improve patient health.

Pharmaceutical reps who do not present the right evidence to clinicians will not effectively inform patient-provider conversations about pharma options.

A 2016 Accenture survey found that 85 percent of clinicians discuss patient services sometimes, rarely, or never with patients. Most clinicians said they do not discuss services because they themselves do not know the clinical benefits of the offerings.

That previous study also indicated that most clinicians only discuss these services when the patient begins a new treatment or therapy, which is not usually effective for patient motivation. Clinicians are less likely to recommend a pharmaceutical patient service when they are unclear of the clinical benefits, the survey suggested.

Pharmaceutical companies can empower providers to engage patients in these services by proving the clinical worth of their products. Clinical trials will help demonstrate the power of patient services, the survey recommended.

Additionally, pharmaceutical companies must re-frame patient services as a holistic wellness solution. Clinicians want to use and suggest services that will improve patient outcomes and engagement in care. Pharmaceutical companies must demonstrate to clinicians that patient services are not just part of a product package, but a part of an overall health solution.

The goal to drive overall patient wellness aligns with the industry’s transition to value-based healthcare.

Healthcare providers are leaning toward embracing valuable clinical interventions – including their pharmaceutical interventions. As a result, they are only interested in solutions that will drive a valuable and long-term health outcome.


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