Patient services have a meaningful impact on the lives of patients, but it goes without saying that these services are only useful if they are used. A new Accenture report reveals that over the past five years, little has changed to improve patient utilization of services. This report underscores the need to simplify the patient experience so that patients engage with services that improve and extend their lives. Ironically, after years of struggling to increase patient awareness and adoption, it seems the calamity of COVID-19 has presented some breakthroughs around these issues.
In 2015, Accenture conducted a survey of patients to understand the awareness and utilization of patient services. The findings were discouraging: most patients weren’t aware that support services existed, and many patients who were aware still didn’t use these services.
In the five years since the first survey, pharma companies have accelerated their investment in patient services and the sector has exploded. The market for patient engagement solutions was worth $8.8 billion in 2017 and is projected to reach $18.68 billion in 2022, an annual growth rate of 16.2%.
It’s no wonder that pharma companies are eager to invest in these services. Research from the report shows that patient services, when used, increase adherence, improve quality of life, decrease hospitalizations and ER visits, and raise survival rates. But while the patient services space is far more crowded with offerings, the report reveals that patients are still slow to understand and adopt these services.
Accenture’s second survey, which collected responses from more than 12,000 patients, identified three core findings:
Insight #1: Patient awareness and adoption of pharma support services is low.
Patients need clear, easy to understand information to better understand their condition, manage care, or access financial assistance. Patients appreciate support services when they use them, and approximately 8 in 10 patients surveyed rated the services they used as valuable or extremely valuable.
But most of the time, patients simply aren’t using these services because they don’t know that they exist. Accenture found that patient awareness is no higher than it was five years ago, when the company conducted its last survey. When patients are aware of services, between one half and three quarters of them use these services. This adoption rate has remained the same over the past five years.
Insight #2: Physician awareness and support of patient services is also low.
The survey shows that patients still get most of their information about their diagnosis and treatment from their doctors, just as they did five years ago. Patients turn to their doctors far more than they consult with pharma companies.
The numbers of approved therapies, specialty medications, and services have skyrocketed in recent years. Patients are looking to doctors for guidance, and doctors themselves are having a tough time keeping up with the maze of pharma offerings. But just when patients need more of their time, doctors have less of it to give. Administrative tasks are consuming more of a typical doctor’s schedule than ever before.
How can pharma companies streamline information for physicians to help them become champions of patient services? The Accenture report sees an opportunity for doctors to steer patients to the right path for services and support, but only if pharma companies do a better job of engaging doctors and helping them be a part of the solution.
Insight #3: Patients are ready to receive information and care via new channels
The bright side of the pandemic is that it has accelerated the adoption and use of technology. For pharma companies, this has had a pivotal effect on patient receptivity to information channels besides doctors.
The survey uncovered an increased use of online resources for patients in the treatment phase and increased use of pharma websites (from 36% to 44%) and social media (from 33% to 40%).
As patients turn to online communities and other digital channels, community support groups are playing a more significant role.
The pandemic could be a game-changer for patient services, one that fosters greater adoption of digital tools to manage health. As patients have used these services during the pandemic, 84% said they were valuable or extremely valuable.
Will changed mindsets during the pandemic be enough to jolt patient services into broader reach and use? It’s up to pharma companies to seize this opening. There’s an opportunity to shift the way we view healthcare management, beyond one-on-one discussions with physicians and into a community and continuum of care across touchpoints.
But we must make this journey easy for patients. The report advises pharma companies to simplify the process of how patients and healthcare providers learn about and access services. Companies must get creative in maximizing these touchpoints, using data to personalize services and power targeted, digitally enabled patient services.
“Cut through the noise and simplify service choice with coordinated delivery and an integrated service model – all with the patient at the core,” the report advises. “Harmonize with healthcare provider workflows and patient lifestyles – communicate via technologies already in use, like…smartphones, to make awareness and adoption of patient services easier and more convenient.”
This pretty much summarizes HelpAround’s mission statement. Our goal is to simplify the patient experience; our mobile services offer easy touchpoints along the way to help patients engage with support services. HelpAround’s technology is one of many along the frontlines of patient services innovation over the past five years, all developed with the belief that better technology can help pharma companies better connect with patients.
Pharma companies have too much invested to see their efforts to help patients flatline with low awareness and adoption. The Accenture report reveals that pharma must invest just as much energy in connecting patients with services as designing the services themselves.
How HelpAround addresses Accenture’s insights:
Insight #1 – Patient awareness and adoption of pharma support services is low. HelpAround makes it easy for patients to discover and act on patient services through their phone without requiring an app. No more need for faxes and phone calls; now patients can access program tools through websites widgets, QR codes on print and video, emails from your CRM, and SMS invites..
Insight #2 – Physician awareness and support of patient services is also low. HelpAround makes it more convenient for healthcare providers to share resources with the patient. No paper forms, no faxing, no signatures with a pen. With eRX, SMS text links, and QR codes on printed material, the HCP can easily share the patient services with their patients with less effort and time.
Insight #3 – Patients are ready to receive information and care via new channels. HelpAround makes the specialty medication journey simpler for patients by delivering the services on their preferred platform – web, mobile web, text message, or app. They can easily make the choice that is best for them.
To Learn more about how HelpAround can help you improve the patient journey, schedule a demo today.