Big Questions for Big Pharma: Examining the Patient Experience

Many people express skepticism about the pharmaceutical industry. If not skepticism, than concern, if not wholesale distrust. For every few negative stories, however, there is at least one positive example. In a recent report by PM360, pharmaceutical industry experts were asked several questions about how to best improve the patient experience with their companies. The questions asked by PM360 included:

  • How can pharma better partner with patients to help offer an improved experience? What are the keys to developing a trusting relationship between patient partners and pharma?
  • What areas along the patient journey are most in need of improvement in terms of how pharma interacts with patients? What can the industry do to improve these areas?
  • How must patient engagement strategies change in the age of more empowered and informed patients? How can pharma better meet patients’ rising expectations in a timelier matter?
  • What examples of services, offerings, programs, etc. have you seen pharma offer that has really elevated the patient experience and is worth emulating?
    Keep reading to learn more about some of the response, or follow the original story here for full details.

An Expert Opinion

Emily Mason is the Director of Patient Experience as Astellas. Mason describes the answer to these questions as addressing unmet needs. This entails meeting patient needs both medically, and in their need to be heard. One way Astellas is investigating this idea manifests in their Through The Eyes of the Patient Program. The goal of the program is for employees to understand what its like to live life with some of the conditions their products treat.

In one example, the program asked patients with vasomotor symptoms (or VMS) to record themselves. Any time they were impacted by symptoms, the patients would record their experience. If a hot flash interrupted a patient’s sleep at midnight, that patient would wake up and film the experience. An employee participating in the program would then receive that video at midnight to simulate the way in which the medical condition interrupts the patient.

Getting a Second Opinion

Nareda Mills works as the President of Patient Solutions for Ashfield USA. Her belief is that patient retention is the area pharmaceutical companies could most improve upon. The costs of acquiring new patients greatly outweighs the costs of maintaining and serving current patients. The money saved could be reallocated to any number of beneficial functions.

Mills describes a more holistic approach as the solution to patient retention. Patients today, for example often face long waiting periods between receiving newly prescribed medicines. It may take up to to two to four weeks for patients to receive medicines they need. The recommendation is to start with a “welcome call.” This informational discussion takes place within 24 hours of a patient being prescribed new medication. This allows companies to address concerns and questions upfront, and keeps patients motivated as they wait for new medicines.

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