Superior Patient Engagement – A “Must Have” For Biopharma

Andrea Heslin Smiley, President and CEO, VMS BioMarketing

Life sciences companies and their solution providers are partnering to reimagine the role patient engagement can play in a brand’s market success today. In recent years, there has been more than a 50% increase in the number of patient services being offered to patients, and 85% of companies have reported increasing their investment in patient centric capabilities.The patient engagement solutions market is expected to grow at nearly 20% CAGR.

A new generation of patient engagement programs that optimally integrate human connection, technology, and data are setting a new standard of what great looks like. This rapid transformation in patient engagement can improve the value chain, drive category leadership, and turn the vision of patient-centricity into practice.

Market tailwinds are driving rapid change

The traditional patient support model is becoming antiquated, and its negative impact on health and business outcomes is being exacerbated. The main driver of this is healthcare consumerism. Today’s patient engages with a multitude of companies and brands outside of healthcare, the likes of Apple, Amazon, and Netflix, and they are now expecting, wanting and needing more from pharma companies. In fact, 76% of patients feel that pharma has a responsibility to provide tools and services that complement their products, and 50% of doctors say they are more likely to prescribe medications from companies that are more patient centric.

This belief is bolstered by the lasting impact of the pandemic. COVID-19 placed unprecedented demands and strain on the healthcare system and accelerated the need for innovative patient-centric services that give patients what they are looking for from pharma companies. At the same time, many pharma executives feel a strong social responsibility to do the right thing by investing in patient engagement and aspiring to improve the reputation of the industry as a whole.

Biopharma companies are facing the highest levels of competitive pressure, as many therapeutic areas become increasingly crowded. Investing in differentiation is a requirement to establish an advantage. And as the industry continues its shift from volume to value-based-care, the adoption of patient engagement strategies that are rooted in evidence and proven to drive better outcomes, become a must have.

The growth in investment is justified

We as an industry spend nearly $31B a year to get to the moment of prescription. So often we struggle to capitalize on all that momentum. Yet, 20-30% of patients abandon their script and never start the prescribed therapy, and 50% of those who do start drop off by 12 months. A big reason for this is because patient engagement has been an afterthought. Pharma continues to rank as one of the lowest NPS industries, at 5.2 out of 100 on average.

Innovative patient engagement programs allow biopharma to fully capitalize on the momentum being created to drive new patients onto therapy. Improving patients’ quality of life and health outcomes by increasing adherence helps patients realize the full potential of your product. And a byproduct of that increased patient success is growth in the commercial bottom line. By reducing first-script abandonment, companies can grow the volume of patients on product, and by improving medication adherence companies can create a significant uptick in the patient life-time-value.

Focus areas for patient engagement innovation

The core tenants of this transformation can be detailed in five areas:

  1. Holistic support models: Providing patients a consistent resource at all stages of the journey from onboarding to ongoing therapy management, with a focus on the full spectrum of needs: clinical, emotional, financial, and logistical.
  2. Optimizing the human connection: Technology cannot replace the emotional intellect, context, creative thinking, and relationship building that human resources can bring to patient engagement. Algorithms are now being used to determine the optimal mix of human vs. technology driven intervention.
  3. Personalizing the patient support: Utilizing predictive analytics, preferences, and assessments to design an individualized patient experience instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, inclusive of the right number, timing, format, and channel of intervention for each patient in the program, and even the specific topics that are covered in each touchpoint.
  4. Making the support dynamic: Recognizing that patient’s time on therapy isn’t static, programs have become dynamic by tapping into a host of different real-time, real world data sources, like wearables, to guide interventions and next best actions based on patient progress.
  5. Systematic mining of rich patient insights: Leveraging interaction analytics to create the “voice of the market” feedback loop from front-line patient conversations back to the life sciences company to guide program optimization and broader brand strategy.

Learn more about patient-centric solutions for biopharma at


Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Industry Basket

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