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Patients Favor Clinical Benefits During Med, Treatment Decisions

Only 31 percent of patients have considered brand loyalty during patient treatment decisions, according to an Accenture survey.

patient treatment decisions

Source: Thinkstock

By Sara Heath

- Patients prefer medications with proven clinical benefits over brand loyalty when making treatment decisions, according to a recent Accenture survey.

“Product Launch: The Patient Has Spoken,” surveyed 8,000 patients in the US, UK, France, and Germany to assess their preferences with respect to treatment selection. Patients have assumed the role of healthcare consumer in recent years, becoming more informed about the care and treatments they receive.

“New products are being brought to a market characterized by digitally empowered patients,” the report says in its introduction. “Today, patients want to know more about new treatment options as they come to market, have more input into their treatment decisions, receive more personalized healthcare and, ultimately, feel confident that they’re receiving the best treatment.”

As a result, pharmaceutical companies need to understand patient preferences with regards to treatment choice.

The survey revealed that patients tend to value the proven outcomes of a medication over the brand of the medication. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said that a products benefits are more important than brand loyalty or the treatment itself. Only 31 percent of respondents said they consider brand when selecting a medication.

READ MORE: FDA Patient Engagement Collaborative to Guide Patient Centricity

Several other elements factor into the treatment decision equation, the report notes. Sixty-six percent of patients reference a strong patient-provider relationship, their ability to maintain their current lifestyle (55 percent), and easy patient access to treatment (53 percent).

Despite these numerous driving forces, patient education is missing from the patient treatment decision process, the survey revealed.

“Patients feel that the treatment choices they make are often not based on the full picture, so there’s clearly an opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to help bridge the gap in patient knowledge in new and meaningful ways,” report co-author Boris Bogdan, MD, a managing director in Accenture’s Life Sciences practice, said in a statement.

“This lack of knowledge extends to the services that support them in their product use,” Bogdan continued. “Our previous research found that less than one in five patients are very aware of these services, but those who are aware of them use and greatly value them.”

Only 38 percent of patients said they felt knowledgeable about new or existing products that could improve their conditions, and 25 percent said they have limited or no knowledge of these drugs.

READ MORE: Knowledge Gaps in Pharma Services Limit Patient Engagement

Forty-eight percent of patients said they believe their doctors explain the full range of treatment options with them, a relatively low number considering the weight patients put on the patient-provider relationship when selecting a medication.

Only 44 percent of patients believe they have considerable input in their treatment decisions, despite the fact that 63 percent of them said they want to be involved in these choices.

The survey also highlighted trends in patients who switch medications. About two-thirds of patients follow-through in switching treatments after considering a change. Of the survey population, 47 percent of patients had considered changing their medications in the past.

Patients primarily change medications because of recommendations from their physicians (81 percent), but assessing proven benefits of other drugs (79 percent) and potential side effects of other drugs (78 percent) were other common reasons.

This patient focus on provider recommendations and the patient-provider relationship highlights the need for pharmaceutical companies to personalize their medication development.

READ MORE: What Providers Should Know to Improve Patient Access to Healthcare

“We may be in the digital era, but healthcare remains very personal and will continue to be heavily influenced by the importance that patients attach to trust and relationships,” said co-author Jim Cleffi, a managing director in Accenture’s Life Sciences practice. “However, the digital era affords the opportunity to extend those relationships and deepen patient knowledge on a much more personalized level.”

Ultimately, these findings mark a shift in pharma’s product launch protocols, Bogdan said.

“Companies need to expand their product launch capabilities to be much more personalized — customized to the disease they’re treating and specific to the life context and preferences of each patient sub-segment,” he noted.

Additionally, pharmaceutical organizations need to emphasize the clinical benefits their solutions bring to patients.

“Patients in our study made it clear that outcomes matter most which means that pharma companies should focus their launch strategies and communications more on patient value and impact versus the brand—and do so in a much more precise and personalized way,” Cleffi added. “Reallocating parts of launch budgets to programs that resonate the most with different patient segments would not only better meet patients’ needs and deliver better outcomes, but likely provide the companies with better ROI.”

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