Why patient centricity isn’t enough anymore

For years patient centricity has been a hot topic in the healthcare industry. Our recent BOBI award nomination for the ‘Best Patient-Centric Approach’ embodies how patient centricity can create true impact for a business.

“This was a project with patient centricity threaded throughout; from engaging relevant internal stakeholders and workstreams upfront, to a multi-faceted approach to immerse in the patient experience, through to activating insights to inform patient engagement and support strategy and tactics that are making a real difference in patients’ lives today” – Calum East, Principal, BOBI award nominee

Francesca Cooper, Senior Associate in the Health team at Incite, evaluates the way pharma organisations tackle patient centricity now and how it needs to evolve to better meet the evolving and multifaceted needs of patients.

The challenge – elevated patient expectations 

We’ve come a long way in prioritising the importance of understanding patient experiences. Patient focused initiatives, such as AbbVie’s patient support system has influenced improving patient adherence and outcomes. But there is also lots of evidence showing that so many patients are unaware or don’t utilise these support initiatives that pharma companies continue to develop specific to their brands.

So what is it going wrong? As the way people interact with their holistic health and wellbeing evolves, along with advancements in modern drug innovation and MedTech, there is an opportunity to better serve the personal needs and expectations of individual patients. You can no longer look at your brand or a specific therapy area in a vacuum.

To meet elevated, more multifaceted needs and expectations, pharma needs to think wider than just patient centricity. We need to consider the interlinked implications a condition may have on all aspects of a patient’s quality of life. And the influence that their broader environment has on their decision making.

The situation – the evolving patient ecosystem is far-reaching and complex 

To truly understand the patient need you must stretch beyond understanding their condition in isolation, to think about how that condition may create a chain reaction of symptoms, limitations and social implications for that patient.

All of these factors are part of a broader ecosystem that dictates decisions patients make about their condition. Imagining this ecosystem is an important step in understanding the multifaceted patient experience.

Take hayfever for example:

•  The known impact of hayfever: symptoms (e.g. runny nose, sneezy, dry/ itchy eyes, cough)

•  The overlooked impact of hayfever: sleep quality, work productivity, avoiding outdoor activities and socializing, confidence and self-esteem, mood and mental health

•  The overlooked influences: lifestyle factors/ changes can have a huge influence on decisions patients make about their hayfever e.g. starting a new relationship or moving to university and becoming more independent may lead patients to seek more from treatment.

The opportunity – how can we evolve our approach to patient centricity? 

Overcome the common pitfalls of a too narrow view of patient centricity:

  • Look beyond one snapshot in time or one specific condition. Seek to understand the evolving impact a condition may have on the cascading network of factors that impact quality of life
  • Aside from their primary doctor, understand who else is influencing decision making either directly or indirectly
  • Understanding the knowledge resources used is important, but more powerful is to understand how patients interact with different sources for different needs (g. social media vs medical professionals vs websites)
  • Acknowledge the role that health care providers play in recommending these types of services and how their awareness and buy-in is crucial.

The inspiration – what healthcare can learn from other industries 

Nationwide Building Society recognised the need to better relate to the broader context of challenges their customers face.

In launching their distinctly different and successful ‘Voices’ campaign, Nationwide tackled topical issues that resonate with their customers – such as the cost of living crisis sparking fears over budgeting for food vs. fuel vs. household issues.

As the challenges and needs in the financial services industry rapidly evolve, so too do those in the pharma industry.

There is an opportunity for pharma to act now to bring true holistic value to their patients by looking outwards to the ecosystem impacting customers and reflecting what that means for who to target, how to communicate and what products or services to offer.

If you have a patient centricity challenge, we’d love to hear from you.