Over the course of my 25 year career, I have witnessed significant changes across the life science industry and challenges brought forth by the ever-evolving landscape. However, the past few years have been a time of unprecedented upheaval, caused by the global uncertainty of the Covid pandemic and digitalisation, which has ushered in a new era of how to do business at scale.
As a result of this seismic shift, pharmaceutical organisations are increasingly seeking to define and implement a fresh approach which is aligned with a digital, personalised patient pathway. The aspiration is to improve the patient engagement process, increase retention rates and deliver better patient outcomes. Make no mistake, the challenge is a difficult one: combining established working practices and developing digital technology will require a deep-rooted understanding of several different operating systems. Equally, all changes will need to be handled with sensitivity and a deep understanding of the patient experience.
The paradigm shift: from siloed to collaborative commercialisation models
To date, most pharmaceutical drug commercialisation models operate with limited collaboration among various external stakeholders. Companies are often primarily focused on developing and marketing a licensed drug medication without fully engaging with other healthcare industry players. This approach can result in variable data endpoints.
Lately, the market has recognised the benefits of a coherent, integrated, multi-stakeholder collaboration model. This dynamic business model includes engaging with payers, providers, patient advocacy groups, and industry regulators at various stages of the drug development life cycle, ie:
Phase III clinical study programme
Commercial drug submission and approval
Post-marketing, pharmacovigilance drug safety monitoring
Collaboration with payers can play a pivotal role in shaping commercial positioning. Traditionally, many organisations have tended to engage with payers late in the drug development process. This has resulted in the primary focus of discussions being pricing negotiations. A more integrated business model would require an early and proactive collaboration with payers.
Early engagement of this kind can trigger a discussion more centred around the development of value-based pricing models and evidence-based data generation which can highlight pharmaceutical drug patient safety and economic value. This collaborative approach could profoundly impact patient outcomes whilst also benefiting commercial metric targets for an organisation.
Healthcare systems, including hospitals and clinics, are another critical group to be brought on-board. Typically, industry interactions with healthcare professionals (HCPs) and healthcare partners are established via marketing activities and direct sales channels. This transactional approach can sometimes lack a deep understanding of the provider needs and unique patient populations’ requirements. Furthermore, it can be a difficult model to expand and scale. Alternatively, a harmonised digital and personalisation business model has the potential to add value to a patient support programme. For more information on patient support programmes please take a look at the article written by my colleague Clare Woods here. Co-creation of patient care pathways coupled with real-world evidence (RWD) could help to support the advancement of new innovative drugs in specific patient demographics.
Additionally, proactive communication with regulatory agencies should be actively encouraged. Early engagement allows for timely identification and resolution of any/all potential policy hurdles and ensures compliance with evolving regulations. Being proactive may reduce the time-to-market and improve patient experience, engagement, retention and therefore access to innovative therapies.
Patient advocacy groups and patient registries have a significant part to play. Not-for-profit organisations provide invaluable insights into patient needs, preferences, and behaviour traits. Building a close working relationship with patient advocacy groups/registries enables the development of a personalised, patient-centric pathway. Offering education and support also empowers and truly values the patient experience. By involving patient groups early in the scoping phase of a digital personalisation project, all parties can better understand the patient perspective and the journey with a clear goal to enhance patient outcomes.
Moving beyond one-size-fits-all: the need for a personalised approach
In summary, the future of patient engagement is to go beyond the pill. This demands a departure from the traditional one-size-fits-all approach. The current rigid, standardised, labour-intensive approach is becoming obsolete. Moving towards an agile, digital, personalised business model could help to address the specific needs of patients across many therapeutic conditions, drug lifecycles and markets.
Moreover, the rise of digital technology shows no sign of slowing down. As adoption increases so will the number of case studies which validate the user experience and the business case return on investment (ROI). At its best technology can unlock a wealth of data, learning and understanding which can profoundly improve the lives of patients across the globe.
At Nye Health, we are pioneering an innovative digital patient engagement and real-world data platform that is specifically designed with and for the patient. A powerful, compliant bridge between patients, their data, healthcare providers and life sciences organisations, it’s built on the principle that patients need value in order to engage; that principle, combined with patient-controlled data - including NHS electronic medical records - offers systemic value to the industry.
We are a passionate and committed team that operates to the highest values and standards. We are actively working to embrace this future–but we cannot revolutionise the industry alone.
Graham Howieson, Business Development Lead at Nye Health