Most healthcare companies have invested in a variety of patient services to help educate both HCPs and patients, improve adherence, assist with cost, make information more accessible, and positively affect outcomes.
But the problem is, even with a wealth of these services, many patients aren’t aware of them or fail to use them efficiently. Accenture recently looked into this trend and came up with some key findings and useful advice.
In previous surveys, they had found that patients preferred to hear about these services from their doctors, and that healthcare companies were relying on the doctors to communicate about them. But Accenture recently found that just one in five patients is aware of the services.
So in their 2017 survey, the company looked into where the disconnect might be occurring. They interviewed 362 healthcare professionals in the US, the UK , France and Germany, general practitioners and specialists, to monitor behaviors and understand what might be done to improve the use of patient services.
Primarily, they wanted to find out not only about the awareness of patient services among physicians, but also whether the HCPs believed in their value to improve outcomes. What are the attitudes, barriers and remedies? Here are a few eye-opening snapshots from the report.
KEY FINDING #1
MOST HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS ARE NOT VERY AWARE OF PATIENT SERVICES
- Just 40% reported being very aware of patient services
- 60% said they are only somewhat aware, or not aware at all
- Professionals in oncology had the highest awareness, 52%, followed by immunology at 44%. Brain specialists had the lowest, at 31%
- Sales reps are the number one way HCPs hear about patient services
- But nearly half of the HCPs said they hear about patient services less than 25% of the time from reps
- Learning through conferences, email, websites, portals, etc. is happening even less [Figures 1 & 2]
KEY FINDING #2
HCPS DON’T TALK ABOUT SERVICES FREQUENTLY WITH THEIR PATIENTS
- 81% of pharmaceutical companies rely on HCPs as the primary way of communicating with patients about their services.
- 63% of patients want HCPs to be their primary point of contact for those services
- But just 15% of HCPs reported that they always personally share information on pharma services with their patients
- 85% said that they sometimes, rarely, or never personally share information on services with patients [Figure 3]
- 42% reported that their primary reason for not discussing services is that they lack a good understanding of what’s available [Figure 4
- HCPs who share information about services with patients do so most often when those patients are starting out with a new therapy/drug/device, rather than at other points in their treatment [Figure 5]
KEY FINDING #3
HCPS SEE BETTER PATIENT OUTCOMES AS THE NUMBER ONE BENEFIT OF USING SERVICES
- But most pharma companies aren’t presenting them that way: just three out of ten reps present the services in terms of their ability to improve patient outcomes. Most don’t present patient services as an integral part of their company’s offerings or part of a holistic solution to address unmet patient needs.
- 21% of respondents cited patient services as an important contributor to patient care and support outside of the provider’s office, and a factor supporting patients’ ability to manage their conditions [Figures 6 & 7]
- HCPs indicate that they would be far more likely to recommend patient services if sales representatives made a more compelling case for their use: 63% say that solid, published evidence of improved outcomes would increase their trust/belief in the value of patient services
- 42% said that evidence of services helping patients adhere to their treatment plans would increase their trust/belief [Figure 8]
ASTRAZENECA: INCORPORATING SERVICES INTO CLINICAL TRIALS
In 2016, the company began using a mobile app in three clinical trials studying a therapy for women with certain recurring forms of ovarian cancer to gather information about two common side effects of the treatment. The goal: to help the patients report side effects more easily (and hopefully more quickly), and to help the doctors conducting the trial track side effects and respond more readily to patients suffering from them. The app was developed by Paris-based Voluntis in close clinical collaboration with Astra-Zeneca and the US National Cancer Institute (NCI). It uses a Bluetoothenabled blood pressure cuff to gather and send data to the patient’s smartphone and also to the patient’s doctors, including those conducting the trial, via a web portal.
SO WHAT SHOULD PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES DO DIFFERENTLY?
Fill the Communication Gaps
Patient services will deliver better patient experiences and outcomes if HCPs:
- Possess a comprehensive understanding of what’s available
- Understand how services can help deliver a better patient outcome
- Feel confident when talking about services
- Can easily inform and connect patients with the services best suited to their needs
Fill the Product and Service Gap
- Reorient commercial functions from developing and marketing brands to designing and marketing holistic patient solutions. Currently, if they market services at all, most patient services are treated as an ancillary service vs. an integrated solution, which lessens perceived relevance to patients and HCP’s.
- Embedding patient-services talent into existing brand teams makes the process holistic
- Another successful tactic is to create “outcome” teams instead of brand teams
Fill the Engagement Gap
- Sales reps are still driven by incentives based on script volume—an approach that is not aligned with the HCP’s, patient’s or payer’s goal of improving patient health and outcomes
- Focus conversations with HCPs on outcomes—across all channels and with greater frequency
- Ensure that every communication through every channel leads with outcome—positioning it as “what” they are selling and “why” their offerings should matter to their target audience
Fill the R&D and Commercial Gap
- Rigorously generate evidence on the effect of patient services on outcomes—starting with clinical trials
- This calls for embedding services into the product-development process to generate the required data to prove impact on patient outcomes
- This will also help prove the value of services internally to sales reps, medical affairs, and budget holders, who will then advocate for or allocate resources so that service programs can be developed more effectively and marketed more purposefully
Study authors and contributors:
Whitney Baldwin firstname.lastname@example.org
Keena Patel email@example.com
Anthony Romito firstname.lastname@example.org
Eva Wiedenhöft email@example.com
Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions—underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network—Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With 449,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives.