Patient centricity has taken center stage across the healthcare industry, particularly in discussions of quality and value-based care. The concept has its roots in the patient advocacy movement of the 1980s and early 1990s, driven by the HIV crisis and the work of individual patients and activists fighting for better protections, considerations, and treatment access.
The scope of what’s meant by “patient centricity” has only expanded since then, and life sciences companies are becoming more involved (and implicated in) conversations around and movements toward a more connected, higher-quality patient-centric healthcare ecosystem. While the patient perspective has traditionally been viewed through the lens of the provider, regulator, or health plan, drug companies are no longer on the outside of the patient-provider relationship and are now under increasing pressure to adopt patient-centric approaches and mindsets.
In this context, it’s understandable that there’s often confusion about what patient centricity actually means in practice, both for the life sciences sector at large and for any particular life sciences organization. We’re going to relieve that confusion here and offer our perspective on what needs to be done.
Patient centricity requires organizations to deliver personalized services, solutions, and experiences throughout the patient journey that will improve outcomes and value for patients and caregivers. As patients become increasingly empowered as consumers to take active roles in their healthcare journeys, life sciences companies must adopt innovative approaches to engage with them and gain greater insight into their needs. This means that companies whose role has been focused on developing the science and medicines for prevention or treatment of diseases must shift from being disease-centered to being patient-centered.
The movement toward personalized therapies and regulatory mandates to incorporate the patient perspective into product development and approval processes is driving increased patient centricity initiatives in life sciences. We know that more and more pharmaceutical company leaders are identifying patient centricity among their highest priorities, and that the presence of a chief patient officer and a designated patient services function has become a rising trend for the industry. This is a significant evolution of strategic imperatives considering the brand-centric approaches drug companies have traditionally taken to managing their patients.
Here are some ways that life sciences organizations can affect the shift away from disease-centricity to improve outcomes for and deliver value to both patients and caregivers via patient-centric solutions and services:
These are foundational actions that a life sciences company of nearly any size and specialty can—and should—incorporate into its patient centricity strategy.
We know, however, that aligning business functions, developing a digital strategy, and accessing costly patient data are among the most significant barriers to implementing patient-centricity initiatives. It can be hard to know where to begin to put the required breadth and variety of personalized products and services that deliver actionable insights into place.
The shift from disease-centricity and brand-centricity to patient-centricity is not just a change of perspective—it’s a matter of taking on a patient-focused engagement model, reorganizing patient service programs, digitizing technology, and creating sets of experiences that spotlight the patient.
These are fundamental improvements to the successful organization’s DNA. We see this stretching across four core areas that define the character and makeup of a patient-centric life sciences organization:
An organization that focuses on these four areas of improvement is one that is prepared to meet the challenges of patient-driven healthcare services and the industry-wide expectation to deliver individualized experiences that cohere with provider and payer interactions.
Life sciences organizations now have unprecedented, direct access to patients who expect a seamless, personalized experience throughout the continuum of care.
While many companies have focused on educating and engaging patients to improve experiences, increase adherence, and reduce costs, many still struggle with how to link efforts to business results. Listening to and understanding patients is essential, but it can be difficult—organizationally, operationally, technologically—to continuously integrate the voice of the patient in therapy development, product launch, brand strategy, and patient services.
But by successfully supplementing their operating models with resources focused on convenient, seamless, and technology-enabled patient services that increase disease awareness, improve diagnostic services, and support patients with engaging digital products and experiences, these organizations will reap the benefits of shifting reimbursement arrangements and improve their bottom line.