Considering Today's Active, Engaged
and Digitally-Enabled Patient

It’s time to renovate the conventional patient treatment journey to reflect how patients actually behave. Typically, the patient journey is an oversimplified representation of how people consume therapies and overlook the emotional, behavioral and cultural factors that affect disease diagnosis, treatment and management. It’s against this backdrop that Signals Analytics proposes the modern patient treatment journey.

Today’s consumers are proactive members in their healthcare journey; their decision making is not linear - it’s complex, irrational and subject to bias. Even prior to disease diagnosis, patients are utilizing social media, online communities, blogs, forums and mobile apps to help them understand, diagnose and manage their illnesses. By focusing on this digital body-language, healthcare suppliers can make dramatic improvements in patient experience, treatment access, adherence and ultimately impact outcomes. However, the arrival of the empowered digital patient brings with it a deluge of unconnected and unstructured data, events and records against which conventional “big data” analytics approaches stand little chance towards revealing the many “whys” surrounding choice and behavior. Instead, the military-proven concepts of signals intelligence can uncover a deeper understanding of the modern patient treatment journey, as well as the relative opportunity within each critical stage, to drive patient-centered solutions.

1. Consideration & Understanding

Critical Questions to Seek Answers:
What motivators and emotions are driving individuals to seek diagnosis and care before they become a patient? What sources of support, treatment or referral mechanisms are patients exploring prior to clinical diagnosis?

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5% of all Google searches are for health-related information

(Google blog, “A remedy for your health-related questions: Health info in the Knowledge Graph,” blog entry by Prem Ramaswami, February 10, 2015, googleblog.blogspot.co.uk)

In the traditional patient treatment journey, Consideration & Understanding is often overlooked or not even considered. Take for example a simple scenario; An otherwise healthy female develops certain symptoms and navigates online to research these symptoms. She finds blogs, articles, photos, forums, patient communities, advice, treatment options and insurance reimbursement confirmations. This happens long before the patient ever steps into a doctor’s office. Companies that engage early with consumers to understand the motivators that drive them to seek diagnosis and care before becoming bona fide patients are better positioned for successful launch and improved outcomes. By uncovering sources of support, treatment or referral mechanisms with which patients interact and creating aligned experiences, brands are better positioned to be viewed as healthcare partners instead of an unavoidable cost.

2. Awareness & Recognition

Critical Questions to Seek Answers:
Which information sources are patients consulting to self-diagnosis? What is their experience? How do emotions play a role in decision making and actions prior to seeking care?

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64% of patients are willing to provide personal data in exchange for free information and support services

Patients are increasingly taking self-control of their health and are also being encouraged to do so from a wide range of sources including; government advisories; healthcare provider communications; television, radio and print advertisements; in-store displays; and an ever- increasing number of digital outlets. According to a 2015 poll by the National Institute of Health, 62% of American adults take prescription drugs and one-third of these are between the ages of 18 -39 (the “sweet spot” of the digitally-aware and active demographic). While in a recent poll by Accenture, 68% of patients responded that they are actively online several hours per day. The age of the digitally-empowered patient has arrived and is playing an increasingly active role in consumer decision making prior to seeking care. Through “listening” to patients, life sciences companies can ascertain the relative importance placed on therapeutic features and adjust their offerings, both therapeutic and “beyond the pill”.  In addition, by understanding the information sources patients are consulting, analyzing their experiences, and gaining insight into their attitudes, emotions, beliefs and actions prior to seeking care, life sciences executives can engage with patients at the right time, utilizing the right message, communicated via the right language through the right channel and thus personalize every experience.

3. Presentation & Diagnosis

Critical Questions to Seek Answers:
Which factors and forces most matter in shaping choices of care, providers, therapies, technologies and services?

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20% of drug marketing budgets are allocated to after-launch patient engagement

Here begins confrontation with raw human emotion, fears, uncertainty and doubt.  The consumer is an official patient replete with diagnosis and is now considering treatment options. In the world of consumer goods consumption, Google calls this the “Zero Moment of Truth” and it represents the detailed effort of browsing forums, reviews, social media and digital communities for pertinent answers. Treatments are best positioned for success at this stage when fully-aligned with the questions, challenges and concerns that matter most in shaping choices of care, providers, therapies, technologies and other healthcare services. In the life and death world of disease, this takes on a whole new meaning. It could be providing detailed information on drug effectiveness or adverse effects. It may also support the execution of choice such as proper usage, insurance coverage, access or the importance of medication adherence. Every step in this stage is potentially a vital point of interaction and investment. And with 20% of the marketing budget typically allocated to patient engagement after drug launch, imagine the increased effectiveness of launch activities if just a portion of these funds were utilized to gain deep insight into patient profiles much earlier in the treatment decision process.

4. Treatment Selection

Critical Questions to Seek Answers:
Which external forces drive treatment and provider selection? How do patients learn, monitor, evaluate and select potential substitutes or alternatives?

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52% of patients don’t take the medication they are prescribed

It’s at this point that the patient initiates investigation in earnest. Initially-identified treatments are included in the search, with alternatives added and others altogether removed from consideration. The patient begins to interact with options on an in-depth basis and undertakes direct engagement with digital sources for rich details, medical reviews and clinical trial options/results. He or she turns to online support outlets, engages key opinion leaders, reviews health system options, interacts with disease associations and converses with friends and family. Fully understanding these external forces that undoubtedly drive treatment and provider selection, as well as understanding how patients learn, monitor, evaluate and select potential competitive substitutions or alternatives is a key driver to outcome success during this stage. And with adherence rates ranging from 16% to 70% depending upon drug class, an advanced omnichannel strategy that ensures messaging is aligned with patient desired needs during these touch-points is no longer discretionary.

5. Disease Management

Critical Questions to Seek Answers:
Which features are most prominent in determining treatment compliance and noncompliance? What engagement approaches do patients and caregivers really desire?

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$637B in lost worldwide industry revenue due to patient non-adherence

A recent survey showed that 18 percent of prescribed medications were discontinued in less than one month and, in these cases, 52 percent cited perceived lack of efficacy as a reason. (Gregory Simon, et al., “Patient information: Depression treatment options for adults (beyond the basics),” UpToDate, 2015). This simply does not need to be the case and this trend can be reversed. During this stage, the patient engages in a set of activities aimed at slowing or stopping disease progression or even curing the disease and improving overall health. The emphasis shifts to a deeper treatment connection, as the patient begins to fully-experience the day-to-day therapeutic lifecycle and proactively access resources and solutions that can assist them in managing their disease state. They are online reviewing medication reminder apps, experimenting with health devices to self-monitor, interacting with social forums and enrolling in integrated care offerings. In short, patients are proactively self-managing their care between physician visits in order to minimize complications and avoid negative outcomes. They are also sharing experiences utilizing blogs, forums or even self-created websites or charitable foundations. With such a wealth of information available to life sciences executives, it is just a matter of uncovering the value levers patients require to improve treatment adherence and broaden adoption. By listening to this “voice of the patient”, life sciences companies can move toward enabling total healthcare packages, modalities of treatment and digital health offerings that improve outcomes and support an enhanced quality of life.

6. Outcomes

Critical Questions to Seek Answers:
How can I assure clinical, economic and QOL value of my therapy? What are the motivators of adherence? Which habits can I influence to promote compliance? What are the significant patterns regarding treatment usage and health care choice?

86% of patients expect integrated healthcare from the life sciences industry

(McKinsey & Company)

 
 

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