How healthcare convergence is changing the role of pharma

Healthcare Convergence CSC Blogs

Changing market dynamics and demands for a more progressive approach to manage healthcare challenges are leading to convergence in healthcare. I spoke about this trend in my last blog and how it’s resulting not only in global healthcare systems becoming more and more alike, but also in convergence across a broad range of healthcare organizations.

By Sven Jansen, Industry General Manager, CSC Healthcare and Life Sciences, Central and Eastern Europe

Where once life sciences companies were suppliers to the care delivery environment, today life sciences companies and healthcare providers are partners in the delivery of care and increasingly are shaping the healthcare ecosystem (e.g., through engagement in accountable care organizations, management companies, digital programs and regional population health management plans.)

This evolving relationship doesn’t mean that life sciences companies are moving away from their existing business, but rather assessing new ways of improving the delivery of care and the care outcome through expansion, diversification and partnership.

A Recent Example

A large pharma company decided to establish an integrated health business independently financed and focused on holistic disease management program.

The pharma company had a specific approach to pain management, but wanted to understand more about the pain patients were experiencing and how to improve patient compliance. To start with, the company selected a specific therapeutic area – neuropathic pain – which is a complex area because it’s not always clear what triggers the pain and practitioners rarely have time to investigate all the possible causes.

The company built a disease management program to help doctors identify the pain their patients were experiencing. They created a pain detection application and provided physicians participating in the program with an iPad. When patients came to the practice complaining of pain, they would use the iPad to fill out a questionnaire while waiting to see the physician. Questions focused on what kind of pain the patient was experiencing, how strong the pain was, when they experienced pain, and so on.

The data gathered was used to conduct an analysis of the type of pain the patient was experiencing, giving the doctor enough information to make a clearer medical deduction and prescribe a suitable drug.

At the same time, data was uploaded (de-identifying the patients) into the pharma company’s database detailing what drug was prescribed with each diagnosis or symptoms. This enabled the company to build a huge database to understand how their drug was working and if it was preferred to other drugs in the same class or not.

Disease Management

The second step was to develop a disease management program, with guidelines around the types of pain patients were experiencing. Through this, the pharma company was able to provide insights to the patient about the condition they were suffering from, why they were experiencing pain and how to address it. The company established a call center to enable patients to get feedback and reminders. The critical element was patient engagement, which was key to helping patients manage their pain and improve outcomes. The call center was also designed with family members in mind, so they could help their loved ones manage their conditions.

The last stage of the initiative was to build care management networks across a geographical area, focusing on construction workers experiencing back pain. The pharma company connected hundreds of healthcare practitioners, multiple clinics and several payers. In so doing, the company was able to gather real-world data about how their drug was being used and the impact it was having on a significant number of patients. This was important when looking to get a drug on European formularies, since publicly funded health systems need evidence that drugs are superior to other drugs in the same class.

The importance of data and analytics in demonstrating value in the new interconnected healthcare ecosystem cannot be over-stated. Healthcare convergence and the changing role of life sciences companies from supplier to partner to manager means real-world, evidence-based data will become more critical and will help to differentiate competing products.

Information derived from data will be the currency of the future – not only in healthcare.

 

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