Great expectations: Patients think pharma owes them apps, rewards, and more

A new survey from Accenture measured patients' pharmaceutical preferences.--Courtesy of Accenture

It's not just about the pill anymore. That's a statement fast becoming a mantra in the pharma business. But while drugmakers experiment with apps and text reminders and copay discounts, patients are coming to expect all of that and more.

In fact, 76% of patients think drug companies are obligated to deliver information and services that will help them manage their own health. That's what the consulting firm Accenture found in a recent survey. So, pharma companies need to step up and deliver not only that pill--or liquid or pen injector or what have you--but also bevy of services to patients. Which services are most important to patients, that's the question.

Drugmakers "should individually consider the services they provide to their patients," Accenture spokeswoman Cam Granstra said in an email. But the survey does flag a few that patients appear to want most.

Pharma is actually pretty good at providing some services patients demand. According to the Accenture report, 53% of patients think drugmakers should offer them information about their products; 48% of patients get product information.

But the survey identified a few areas where drugmakers could step into the breach. Almost two-thirds of patients would like to be part of pharma rewards programs, but only 10% have that chance. About half want financial assistance, and 10% receive it. About one-third would like help measuring and tracking their health stats, and 20% get those services.

The payoff? When patients get the services they want, they really appreciate it. Almost 80% of patients gave the thumbs-up to in-demand pharma services like product info and symptom tracking. Even the services patients say they can live without score high satisfaction rates. Plus, 64% of patients say they're willing to share information on their health to get free services--which means companies can gather data they need to help improve care and track outcomes.

One interesting note: Print isn't dead. Patients put the most trust in printed information handed over by their doctors. But digital is definitely in demand, with 69% of patients welcoming email contact, 48% via websites, 44% through mobile apps and 38% via social media. So, multichannel marketing and patient services obviously go hand in hand. Not to mention customized communications.

- get a copy of the Accenture report

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