A few months ago, I had an interview with a Clinical Leader in the Boston area. We discussed the state of patient centricity in healthcare. From that conversation, I came to an interesting conclusion. Patient centricity is everywhere, but too often not from the patients’ outlook. That is to say – the patient is at the center, but their view is not.
This gave me some pause. I assumed there was a link between patient centricity and the patient view. This is not always the case. So, we should ask ourselves, how can we deliver this value?
According to an article by the Institute of Medicine, Patient-Centered care is “providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions
Development companies see benefits as well. Such benefits include improving clinical trial costs, decision making, outcomes, study R&R and more…
Key Areas of Patient-Centered Drug Development
Some key areas of patient-centered drug development today are:
- Input of patient view in the design of drug studies
- The patient experience during the study
- Sharing information with patients at the end of the study
- The personal patient medical results
- The study results of the therapeutic performance
To operate in a more “patient centric” way, many sponsor companies have looked for help on the outside. At the same time, they are working to develop patient-centered thinking within. As a result, the patient voice has become key to the study design process. Sponsors hear patients through interaction with:
- support groups
- advisory boards
- social media
- data science
Valuable insights are changing to journey maps and case studies. This is producing a variety of new technologies and services aimed at improving the patient experience. Concierge, virtual assistants, and travel and reimbursement services are some examples.
Consensus shows that the industry should be more “patient-centric”. Yet, healthcare companies continue to struggle with how to do this. Most companies are designing great programs to improve the quality of the patient experience. But, to get real results, they should also profit from their number one resource – their “people.” Getting the right people involved in these activities, and supporting them is critical!
Delivering the Promise of Patient Centricity in Healthcare
The good news is that most companies already have the right people. Below are some ideas that can help deliver the promise of patient-focused healthcare:
- Involve people who care about this subject! People leading these efforts should be empathetic about patients. Empathy means to understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions. It is also the ability to share someone else’s feelings. Empathy can help you understand patient needs better. Leaders should have a desire to understand and improve the experiences, emotions, and feelings of others. Also, apply this understanding in patient interaction.
- Consider what you already know. There is a shocking amount of information available on the patient experience from “big data” and “social listening”. Yet, you don’t need to spend lots of money to get meaningful insights. Draw from personal experience. There are people in the company who have been affected by illness as patients or caregivers. These people can offer insight into the patient experience from a personal point of view. Caregivers know the fear, insecurity, commitment, courage and persistence required to confront and overcome diseases
- Execute strategically. Operate patient engagement initiatives as you would strategic projects. Consider all stakeholders – patients, community, providers, sponsors, etc. Clarify the necessary drivers. Identify and select areas for patient engagement based on these drivers. Patient Engagement initiatives may be prone to bias. This is because they are social in nature. Use a familiar scoring procedure to agree on priorities. Use diagrams to visualize risks and rewards. Look at key dimensions such as cost/risk verses and patient benefits. Start where the need is greatest such as a study with problematic adherence. Or, start where site visits are particularly challenging to patients. Work outward with a scalable/flexible solution if possible.
- Communicate clear goals. Patient engagement is rewarding. Many will want to take part. You need discipline to manage the project to balance and deliver patient value. Focus will help toward achieving results in this organizational complexity. You can do this by:
- Develop a vision for patient centricity. Make a list of what to accomplish in coming years. Realistically assess your company’s patient centricity
- Use this vision to communicate organizational thinking
- Establish goals that address real patient challenges. These should be measurable, reachable, time-bound, etc.
- Set future goals. Visualize and communicate the company’s patient centricity in “future state”
- Track and test your efforts at pre-defined milestones. This will identify harmonies among your patient engagement initiatives. Adjust as needed. Prepare to stop initiatives that are not working. Move on from there.
In conclusion, expertise helped us understand the patient engagement challenges in clinical trial participation. The patient voice and big data have given us insights to meet these challenges. Furthermore, technology has provided new tools.
In the end, we want to move beyond talks about technology and behavioral science. This will aim to achieve a positive sum for sponsors and trial participants. For this, we will need to use empathy, compassion, clear vision and strategic intent.