Apr 29th 2015

Health Road – Patient Engagement Series: Part 2 Opportunities (Life Sciences)


Blog by Vishnu Saxena – VP & Business Head – Diaspark Healthcare

Patient Engagement was clearly at the center of discussion in the recent HIMSS 15 annual conference. A dedicated full day Patient Engagement symposium and a half day Patient Engagement forum at HIMSS 15 demonstrated that how critical and fragmented PE is going to be and it was great to have industry’s thought leaders under one roof. In an interesting study (HIMSS Leadership Survey of Health IT professionals) at the Conference, “72% of respondents said that consumer and patient considerations such as patient engagement, satisfaction and care quality would be the business issue that would most effect their organization over the next two years.

“Interestingly, a Patient engagement survey in one of the session endorsed the point I made in my previous series (Challenges – Lack of unified view of Patient Engagement ). The survey showed that all the stakeholders view and interpret PE differently that allows gaps in outcome and finger pointing to flourish. Well, as Patient Engagement is emerging from a loosely defined term into a common language, days are not far to achieve a uniform expectations among the stakeholders. There is a tremendous opportunity for Patient Engagement for all the players in the patient centric healthcare value chain: Life sciences organizations, Providers and Payers ( in that order please!) and digital health allows all these stakeholders to interact-engage with patients in newer and innovative ways so as to improve quality of health and revenue outcomes.

Patient Engagement in the Life Sciences:
Life Sciences, seems like not moving as fast on a Patient Engagement turnpike as their counterparts – Providers & Payers, which BTW has a huge potential. This is beginning to change and I am glad that DIA and other leading Pharmaceuticals are now taking initiatives to engage Patients using digital health. If you see involvement scenarios for Patient Engagement across the healthcare value chain, we mostly see it/ talk about from the lens of Providers and Payers (lately). Which is not bad thing but What about Pharmaceuticals ? I strongly believe that Patient Engagements begins right with the Pharmaceuticals and that too when they are going through “Drug Discovery ” phase and expands to Clinical Trials, Drug safety reporting and Compliance.

Patient Engagement during drug development and clinical trial management process:
Patients are a key participants in the drug discovery and development process while Clinical trial management is a significant aspect of the drug discovery process that demonstrates a whole range of possibilities for Patient engagement. Life sciences organizations invest millions of $$ to design and bring a drug to market ( Tufts center says 2.5 Billion- from Drug Dev to FDA approval) and then they release drugs at dismal approval rates with long timeframes that fail to justify costs incurred to develop a single molecule. An effective Patient Engagement has potential to revolutionize the drug discovery approach. As we know, the process of conducting clinical trials is very complex and makes the patient (or a participant) a constant subject of interaction. Pharmas, CRO’s have tremendous challenges in engaging these Patients and be able to provide them a better experience. Physicians (conducing CT) on the other hand face several challenges that include – patient retention during the entire duration of clinical trials that range from a few months to several years, data collection on drug safety and communication with patients during an emergency, such as serious adverse event reporting. These challenges present ideal and multiple scenarios for Patient Engagement using digital health ( Mobile, Web, Tele, Remote, Wearables). Patients/ subjects using a simple mobile application or a care portal on their smart phones – tablets, can go and report their drug safety instantly ( imagine the speed of high quality patient data and accuracy coming into safety database!), connect with Physicians/ Clinical trial Project Managers while sitting at home using telehealth and avoid going far distanced testing sites and improve emergency communication during the course of their clinical trial.

Wearable devices can play a significant role in Engaging patients and reducing their visits to a clinic as it can provide real time biometric data needed to capture drug’s impact. Remote patient monitoring solutions can engage clinical trial participants for cases such as serious Adverse Event Reporting and other health crises that requires immediate patient experiences reporting to the investigational site. In turn, these sites can provide an instantaneous response from clinical personnel and physicians to the participants. A digital health platform like 2Net hub from Qualcomm Life or a simple mobile platform ( 2Net mobile or similar) having capability to sense biometric data from those devices can speed-up the collection of those vitals and their instant reporting to Pharmas via Cloud would provide a great patient engagement example and participant experience. Now, do the analytics on this aggregated fresh, high quality data and arrive at better CTM results – faster.

Patient engagement can also help ensures compliance among enrolled patients to complete the clinical trials during the CTM process. Patients, often drop out of clinical trials mid-way due to either lack of belief in the effects of the medication or long durations. Patients do not follow the prescription of the physician during the entire course ( same Medication Adherence problem here too). A Patient Engagement cum Medication Adherence tool can help patients remain compliant, Engaged and motivated through the course of the study. This will enable healthcare providers and physicians at the study site communicate frequently with the patient pool by texts, medication reminders, study related topics, and the benefits of continuing medication. In a nutshell, there is a tremendous opportunity for Patient Engagement in Life Sciences sector. The way Patient Engagement is enhancing quality of care and bringing down the cost across Provider and Payer settings, I see same or even more value Patient Engagement has to offer for Life Sciences companies. Patient Engagement opportunities in Provider and Payer setting next.

(Thoughts are my own)

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