Patient engagement is something that physicians have done for thousands of years as they cared for patients (whether going to their homes or having them come to hospitals or clinics). With new digital health technologies the way providers can engage with patients is changing significantly but we’re not quite sure about the best ways to apply that technology. This is why I’m looking forward to attending <a href=”http://events.medcitynews.com/engage/”>MedCityNews.com’s ENGAGE</a> conference next week in Washington, DC. Most of these kinds of conferences focus on providers but I think that biotech, med device, pharma, payers, and others have much to learn as well. The term “digital health” for some pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies has traditionally focused on supporting marketing strategies for their product launches, branding and access to providers.
However, with the incentives provided through the Affordable Care Act – patients, payers and providers are increasingly adopting mobile health solutions to coordinate patient care activities. As a result, mobile health solutions have transformed into effective patient engagement platforms enabling the seamless, multi-dimensional connectivity amongst these key stakeholders to provide a holistic view of patient care. Such platforms can help provide real time feedback and management of a patient’s episodic events, chronic illnesses and general health and well-being.
<b>Why should pharma and biotech look beyond just sales when it comes to patient engagement?</b>
Pharma and biotech companies should consider looking beyond pure sales and marketing uses and become more engaged in the development of mobile health solutions alongside payers, providers and most importantly patients. Being engaged early on can potentially provide meaningful insights on patient care and therapy use that can help better design future products and clinical trials. For example, understanding patient unmet needs based on lifestyle patterns, adverse event reporting from therapies, developing better inclusion/exclusion criteria etc.,
<b>How will pharma and biotech companies benefit in the future from patient engagement?</b>
Remote monitoring, wireless sensors, e-prescribing, social media provide direct patient access and a vast amount of data. If captured and structured appropriately from the outset, pharma and biotech companies can leverage the insights gained from this data for effective, real-time product and business decisions. Patient engagement platforms can be viewed via a connected approach as follows (1) patient gets prescribed a therapy (e-prescribing) (2) patient is able to provide real-time physiological updates to his/her physician (remote monitoring) and (3) the patient is able to share his/her experiences on a particular therapy with fellow patients (social media). Such real-time actionable patient engagement can enable pharma and biotech to observe key datasets related to patient care and in turn make meaningful and actionable business decisions.
As a newcomer in the digital health space with vast experience in life sciences, I envision that digital health will play a vital role on a number of fronts (research, clinical, new products, revenue sources etc.,) for pharmaceutical and biotech industries in the coming years.
The ENGAGE conference provides a perfect forum to initiate this understanding.