Embracing Personalization in Biopharma Patient Support Programs

By Abigail Mallon, Chief Client Solutions Officer, VMS BioMarketing

Can we really call ourselves patient-centric if we don't embrace personalization? In a world where consumers can order a customized latte, stream a personalized playlist, and get tailored fashion recommendations with a few clicks, it's no wonder that patients are increasingly demanding that same level of personalization from the pharmaceutical companies that provide them with life-changing medications.

In comparison to other industries, such as retail and banking, pharma is still considered to be somewhat behind in delivering on this patient expectation. This has been largely due to a lack of data integration across the ecosystem, disparate access to digital technologies, and regulatory constraints. However, the industry is well poised to overcome these challenges because of two major forces. The first is the democratization of information, providing access to data to power personalization; 63% of patients would be willing to share their data with pharma companies for greater personalization.1 The second is the emergence of digital tools to deliver personalization to patients; 80% of patients indicated they use 1 or more digital tool to manage their health.1

Today, companies are rapidly advancing capabilities through partnerships to move from a traditional, one-size-fits-all model to a personalized, 1:1 patient support model. In fact, 97% of biopharma companies plan to invest in personalizing patient care in the next two years.2 They are doing this by leveraging A) data solutions to collect, analyze and develop patient profiles to inform personalization and B) digital technologies like interactive virtual tools, chatbots, gamification and remote monitoring devices to deliver the individualized support.

This effort is forging a new standard of what great patient centricity looks like for pharma companies, one that is rooted not only putting the patient at the center, but also in personalizing the way they are supported. These new programs have five things in common:

  1. Tailored: Interventions are specific to the patient and their profile, preferences, needs, expectations, barriers etc.
  2. Dynamic: The program is adaptive and responsive to how patients progress on their therapy and the feedback they provide.
  3. Streamlined: Use of point-of-contact models, providing the patient a go-to resource reducing confusion of multiple points of contact.
  4. Interoperable: Data integration across all patient services; solution providers communicate information back and forth to maintain a consistent view of the patient.
  5. Holistic: Support goes beyond addressing financial barriers to also helping patients address clinical needs, overcome emotional burdens, better manage their wellness, etc.

The advantage of embracing greater personalization is multi-fold. In recent surveys, 85% of patients believe there is still more that pharma can do to better personalize and tailor support for them.This work gets us a step closer to delivering a consumer experience that mirrors that of direct-to-consumer and technology companies. Additionally, positive patient health benefits have been proven out in multiple head-to-head studies that show an improvement on patient outcomes, including improved medication adherence, increased patient engagement, and better disease management.4 Most importantly, personalized support programs can bridge the gaps that exist in the care model, inclusive of the health disparities; 78% of patients reported an improvement in social determinants of health with personalized support.

At the same time, the business benefits for pharma companies are extensive. When patients receive personalized care, they are more likely to feel valued and supported, and this increases patient engagement and satisfaction with their medication experience. Through this impact, patients are more likely to successfully start and stay on their medications, allowing patients to realize the full clinical potential of the therapy and increasing the life-time value of the patient for the pharma company, leading to greater revenues. Second, the perception of the pharma company by patients, but also with providers, payors, and other key stakeholders is likely to improve, while achieving competitive differentiation. Lastly, is the more efficient use of resources by ensuring that the human capital portion of the patient support investment is focused on patients requiring the most handholding, and technology drive automated and self-serve solutions are used for all other patients.

Personalization is not just nice to have; it is a must-have. The timing of this evolution is critical because the consequences of not moving in this direction are significant; we risk continuing to fall further behind relative to other consumer-facing industries and losing out on the enormous potential of personalized patient support.

So, let's challenge ourselves to think outside the box, embrace new technologies, and put the needs of patients at the center of everything we do. The future of pharma support programs depends on it. It’s critical to collaborate with the right solution providers to design, build, and manage patient support programs that are more patient-centered, integrated, and inclusive than ever before, driven by advances in digital health and a growing recognition of the importance of addressing social determinants of health.

2Pew Research Center
4Journal of Medical Internet Research


The editorial staff had no role in this post's creation.