Why pharma should invest in digitally-enabled and patient-centric business models

Pharma has a productivity, regulatory and business challenge at hand in terms of bringing new drugs and therapies to the market and catering for the emerging needs of patient-centric care. How can pharma address and cope with this challenge? Patient-centered digital apps and solutions are able to provide a brand new arsenal of possibilities to engage with patients and other care stakeholders. Some pharma companies have started to build their ecosystems of digital app partners.

For people familiar with the digital health arena, so called “beyond-the-pill” services and apps have been steady companions over the last years. Dozens of presentations and papers have been produced on the subject each year. Frightening figures of how much e.g. therapy non-adherence would cost healthcare systems have repeatedly been disseminated.

Yet, not much has changed in the pharma world as far as digital services and solutions are concerned. And to be honest, there was not much reason for change. Most healthcare systems did not really care about patient outcomes, about quality of care, or the engagement of patients to contribute to better health. And with almost no drivers in place, pharma could easily continue to rely on the old and proven business model.

However, there is writing on the wall and it reads disruption.
One can observe a growing realization amongst pharma companies that a new business model is required that involves patients more closely and more effectively. A number of pharma companies have started initiatives to engage directly with patients and partner with them across the entire care cycle.

Pharma builds ecosystems of digital applications and services through partnerships-min

In essence, there are 4 major drivers behind the changing pharma world:

  • The emergence of genomics-based therapies: genomics opens up a completely new world of therapy and drug treatment opportunities for many indications. However, to perform predictive analytics and subsequent therapy options, it requires a large volume of individual patient data. Moreover, a particular genomic disposition is not necessarily sufficient to predict a certain clinical outcome. Frequently, this has to be substantiated by non-clinical patient data such as behavioral or life-style information.
  • New requirements to conduct clinical trials and obtain regulatory approval for drugs: in order to realize the benefits coming from genomics and move towards personalized medicine and treatment, the way clinical trials are conducted will change. The physician centered-trials will disappear and patient-reported outcomes data will become a key component of drug development. Regulation authorities all over the world have already started to adapt their approval requirements accordingly.
  • Healthcare systems shifting from “fee-for-service” to integrated and outcomes-based care and reimbursement models: no healthcare system can be sustainable without connecting and engaging patients. This sobering realization is dawning on more and more health officials and administrators, even in hard-to-move countries such as Germany. Future healthcare will be delivered within integrated care networks and reimbursed on the basis of medical outcomes. Key enabler to accomplish this digital technology – an array of tools, apps and services based on electronic health records.
  • The emergence of the connected patient: patients are more and more willing to become gatekeepers of their own health. In this context, they are perceiving digital tools and services as becoming key enablers in empowering them to take a much more proactive role in taking care of their own health and care. Today, smartphone penetration in most developed countries ranges between 70% and 80%. This increased connectivity will greatly influence the way pharma (and other stakeholders) engage with patients all along the care cycle.

Patient centricity – the new blockbuster drug?
All of the previous drivers are based on one and the same concept and have one common denominator: patient centricity.

Often, there is confusion about the terms patient engagement and patient centricity, which are far from being the same.

True patient centricity means listening to and understanding the patient’s experiences of his or her condition along the care cycle – what the particular patient appreciates, wants and needs, and what is most likely to have an influence on positive healthcare outcomes. Real-world monitoring (RWM) and evidence (RWE) will become key components of a new pharma business model. The knowledge and insights that can be obtained by listening to and involving patients can be utilized at every stage of a pharma company’s value chain, from drug discovery, over gaining regulatory approval to post-approval market patient management.

It will be crucial for pharma companies to deploy a patient-centric culture, structures and processes, as well as resulting patient-centric business models. Only by doing so, they will be able to launch drugs to the market that reflect the notion of personalized care, comply with pay-for-outcomes models and address the expectations of public healthcare systems and payers.

How pharma companies can achieve digital transformation: building patient-centric ecosystems
Patient centricity will operate in a new digital ecosystem. Digital solutions and services will enable patient centricity, and pharma companies need to design their strategies for building and managing innovative digital ecosystems.

Pharma companies can do this in a number of ways. A recently conducted global survey by R2G found that a well-designed partner integration strategy is key to such an endeavor. Such a strategy needs to connect health apps, solutions, devices and electronic records. The study also found out that collaborating with solution and service providers already at an early stage is considered to be the most promising partner approach, well in front of incubator or accelerator programs, pure service purchasing or investments.

A successful partner strategy will always reflect a “bundled or companion offering” of apps, services and solutions, all along the pharma value chain and covering as many aspects as possible of the patients’ conditions.

If you want to find out more on how to build your patient-centric companion offering of digital apps and integrate them into your organization, reach out to us.

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