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Pharmaceutical Groups Target Patient-Centered Services

Nearly 91% of pharmaceutical companies plan on providing six or more patient-centered services in the next two years, an Accenture survey finds.

By Sara Heath

Pharmaceutical companies are boosting their investments in patient-centered services, with 85 percent of patient services executives reporting a boost in capital investment over the next 18 months, says a recent Accenture survey.

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The survey, which included 200 patient services executives at pharmaceutical companies, shows that 91 percent of pharmaceutical companies plan on providing six or more patient services in the next two years. This is a significant increase from the 73 percent of companies expecting to offer those services just two years ago.

Companies are most likely planning increased investments due to the significant business impact of patient-centered services. Nine of the top ten patient-centered services currently boost business impact by 33 percent or more, reportedly above par for average business growth.

In fact, some patient-centered services drive way above-average business impact. Services like patient segmentation and insight produces 53 percent business impact, and nurse/physician/patient access to the patient portal drives 51 percent business impact.

Patient satisfaction and preference may also drive these service investments, at least to some degree.

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Half of the top ten fastest-growing patient-centered services align with patient values, including benefit coverage and access support, adherence program management, remote patient monitoring, medication delivery and support, and patient outreach, reminders, and scheduling.

However, patient preferences and potential service investment do not entirely align. Services like medication delivery and support and patient outreach, reminders, and scheduling are extremely popular, with 85 and 79 percent of patients strongly valuing them respectively. However, only approximately 50 percent of pharmaceutical companies plan on investing in these areas.

Beyond some contrasting patient-centered service investments and patient preferences, pharmaceutical companies face two main challenges in boosting patient and business value.

First, pharmaceutical companies will need to combat the issue that most patients are not aware that these patient-centered services exist. In a 2015 Accenture survey, the consulting firm found that only 19 percent of patients know about the services that pharmaceutical companies make available to them.

Research shows that providers may be responsible for this lack of awareness. A total of 81 percent of pharmaceutical companies rely on providers to discuss these services with their patients, primarily because that is patients’ preferred mode of communication. This indicates a greater effort on providers’ parts.

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“But clearly that information is not making its way from healthcare professionals to the patients in the vast majority of cases,” Accenture explained. “Healthcare professionals are either not relaying information about services to their patients, or not doing so in a way that patients are meaningful enough for patients to remember them.”

Second, pharmaceutical companies will need to tackle issues measuring patient outcomes. A majority of pharmaceutical companies plan investments in patient-centered services as a means to boost patient outcomes, especially now that the industry is shifting to value-based care.

According to Accenture, pharmaceutical companies will be increasingly measured on their ability to improve overall population health. And yet most of these companies (60 percent) have no standard means to measure outcomes.

“Performance will be measured in a real world setting, and that’s why pharmaceutical companies must sharpen their ability to quantify those results—both for patient value and for sustaining internal investments in these programs,” Accenture noted.

”Market leaders will focus on capturing the impact of their services, use this information to adapt what they provide and differentiate from competitors beyond the therapeutic benefits of their drugs.”

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According to Andrea Brueckner, managing director of Accenture Life Sciences EALA practice, pharmaceutical companies will need to develop strategic plans for implementing patient-centered services based on a deep knowledge of patient preferences.

“Life sciences companies seeking to invest in patient services will need to address issues that can impede their progress, especially as focusing on patient services will become increasingly critical to sustaining success in healthcare,” Brueckner said in a public statement.

“This will require developing a patient-services strategy that fully aligns with patients’ needs, measures success, and effectively communicates to healthcare professional how such services, in combination with their products, can provide better outcomes for their patients.”

Such an understanding of patient preferences is necessary going forward because it is the key factor in differentiating companies from one another, says Tony Romito, North American managing director of patient services at Accenture. Pharmaceutical companies will need to pay special attention to these approaches to remain competitive on the market.

“Having demonstrated clear business and patient value, patient services is attracting greater investment and will become a key competitive driver of success in the healthcare market,” Romito noted. “In this changing competitive environment, the question will no longer be if life sciences companies should offer these services, but rather which ones – and how they should be implemented.”

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