By now, most pharma brands can rightly claim they provide patient services: Support for benefits enrollment? Check. Co-pay cards? Check. Disease education and management tools? Check and check.
And the list goes on. But do these services alone drive faster treatment starts and improved adherence? Not necessarily. They are only the table stakes, the necessary but not yet sufficient components of delivering effective patient services.
The key driver for success in patient services is not simply what services you provide, it is how you deliver those services and create an overall patient experience. That is the difference between patient services and servicing patients.
For instance, a brand may have a patient call center, but are inbound calls placed on hold for five minutes, or are they routed immediately to a person or team dedicated to that specific patient? Or, a brand may launch a campaign sharing a product’s entire value proposition, but what is the impact on patients when receiving all information at once? Focusing on how patients receive and react to resources is necessary in designing an experience that truly services them.
Differences in how manufacturers choose to engage with patients will have an even greater impact on sales as markets become more competitive and the consumerization of healthcare evolves. Patients are consumers first; their experiences as consumers set their expectations, and their analogues are the retail, hospitality and other industries in which high-quality customer experiences are the expectation and norm. Pharma can learn much about how to customize its offerings by observing the successes and setbacks of companies and industries in which consumers exert more control.
But pharma should not just meet the consumer experience standards of leaders in other industries, it should surpass them—after all, what could be more critical than delivering services that help improve a person’s health? Pharma companies that can deliver superior experiences through patient services can create and nurture patient relationships that drive improved outcomes and create strong advocates for their brand and programs.
It is not always easy or straightforward to evolve from providing patient services to servicing patients. Pharma must understand patient needs and the drivers of health decisions, and be prepared to customize strategies, technologies and operations for each brand, portfolio and market—to say nothing of governance, KPIs and execution. Regardless, the manufacturers that can commit to a mindset and operating model focused on servicing patients (and not simply offering patient services) will be best positioned to succeed in the long term.
For the full picture, read this article.