It used to be that a doctor was a patient’s only touch point for a diagnosis and prescription. Today, patients have many more avenues to get the information they seek, which has led to higher expectations from patients. Fortunately, life sciences companies have the opportunity to understand, educate, and treat patients by successfully engaging them.
Shifts in Healthcare That Changed Patient Expectations
Patients are more empowered than ever to take control of their health and health data. There is a plethora of information related to health conditions and how to manage them, what treatment options patients have, and any potential risks and side effects. Better-informed patients are empowered to guide the decisions concerning their health in a direct way. And because of the way this information is gathered, patients have become advocates for their own health.
There has been a dramatic shift in patient expectations from pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Where historically the doctor was the primary point of contact for patients, healthcare consumers are now looking directly to companies for information and value-add services above and beyond treatments to manage their health. Patients expect personalized advice, support, and tools that were previously only provided by their physicians.
These shifts in healthcare have created a very unique opportunity for life sciences companies to develop a direct relationship with patients. Companies that recognize this and put a strategy in place are going to be successful in establishing loyal patient relationships.
What Patient Engagement is Not
To make sense of this shift, it’s necessary to understand what patient engagement really means. Some companies have tried to benefit from this shift and embarked on patient engagement initiatives but have not been entirely successful. To understand why they may not have been successful we must first explore what patient engagement is not.
- Mobile apps: A mobile app by itself doesn’t equate to patient engagement. There needs to be an entire strategy for mobile that needs to be understood first before you attempt to build an app for your patients.
- Patient portal: Many companies build patient portals, only to have them sit idle with no patient traffic. The “if you build it, they will come” strategy doesn’t work in most cases.
- Social media: Social media can certainly be part of a patient engagement strategy, but it is not as simple as just having a Facebook page or a Twitter account.
- Unique marketing campaigns: What most marketing companies or departments fail to understand is that this is not simply a marketing problem that can be solved with a hip marketing campaign to address the overall objective.
While each of these can be, and usually are, part of a larger strategy around patient engagement, each of these in and of itself is not what patient engagement is all about. A company cannot simply just adopt more modern tools as a solution.
To learn more about the relationship between life sciences companies and patients, the shifts in healthcare that are changing how organizations are engaging with patients, and how to approach the development of a patient engagement initiative; you can click here or download our guide below.