Embracing the Empowered Patient
Technology is the enabler for higher-quality interactions between pharma, HCPs and patients, argues Agnitio CEO Lars Diemer.
“The life sciences industry is ready, more now than ever, to embrace technology.” That’s the view of Agnitio’s new CEO, Lars Diemer. However, he stresses that technology is simply an enabler and the goal should be to get the best treatment results and outcomes.
“Yesterday’s technology solutions don’t meet the needs of a changing pharma landscape or the heightened expectations of the industry’s partners and stakeholders. Life science is moving more and more towards a model based around helping the overall treatment outcome. To do this they need new technologies and that’s where we can play a strong role.”
Building on the past couple of years in which the company invested heavily in foundation technology such as multichannel, Agnitio is now seeking to enable its clients to reach further into the treatment pathway, by helping “healthcare practitioners, patients and the life sciences industry to help themselves”.
Describing Agnitio as a “very visionary” company that has been working hard on opening opportunities for life sciences to work in new ways, Diemer tells eyeforpharma: “We are experiencing that life science companies are determined to become increasingly patient and customer-centric. There is an important role for Agnitio here in providing technologies that enable this new approach.”
Key business drivers
Indeed, customer centricity is one of two key industry drivers flagged up by Diemer for 2016. “Pharma companies know that they need to become more customer-centric and that this will affect their organization, culture, communication and overall strategy. Customer centricity will have a great influence on how pharma companies act in 2016.”
The second driver takes account of the rise of the empowered patient – what Diemer refers to as “embracing the empowered patient”. This approach acknowledges growing patient empowerment as a fact of life and requires us to respond to the challenges and opportunities that arise from this trend. Chief among these is the need to take a more holistic view of communication and to “focus further out in the treatment pathways and to start to empower the HCPs and patients.”
Diemer suggests that the time is now right for pharma companies to act because the necessary technologies that enable them to work in customer-centric ways are increasingly available. “It’s now possible to close the execution gap between what we want to do and what’s possible.”
The trend will be that HCPs will require tools that they can use to support their work with patients. There’s an opportunity for sales reps and other stakeholders from the life science companies to facilitate this.
As the journey though sales force automation, customer relationship management and closed-loop marketing has unfolded, the industry has been moving towards the multichannel experience. “Sales reps have many different tools in their toolbox to share information with HCPs, and these additional channels will empower the reps and the HCPs.”
At the same time, this model will enable life sciences companies to provide continual support between the rep visits by using different communications channels such as digital channels to keep in touch with HCPs.
Looking at the entire span of the treatment pathway, Diemer predicts: “The trend will be that HCPs will require tools that they can use to support their work with patients. There’s an opportunity for sales reps and other stakeholders from the life science companies to facilitate this.”
HCPs in control
During this process, there are good reasons for healthcare professionals to remain firmly in control. Although it is important for life sciences companies to directly understand patients’ needs and concerns, Diemer cautions: “Healthcare professionals will likely always be the most trusted advisors for the patient. It’s important, therefore, to empower the doctor to select content that they need and provide it to patients directly.”
Such content could be selected either in conjunction with a rep, patient engagement team or medical advice team, or information could be self-selected by the HCP from a range of sources that go beyond the pharma company.
“What’s important is to enable and support HCP decisions. Empowered patients need empowered healthcare professionals.”
One specific benefit of this new focus for pharma organizations is that it will enable reps to have better-quality conversations with doctors. Such interactions will be much more HCP-centered and consultative – focusing on asking what the customer needs and being able to provide that in a simple and user-friendly way.
An even more important outcome – and longer-lasting effect for pharma companies – is that the HCP will have content available that they can use as and when they need it. “Rather than being pushed by the rep only, HCPs can also pull the information on demand and provide it to patients when they see it as being relevant,” he concludes.
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