Reimagining patient centricity and healthcare practitioner engagement

by Satish Pandelenghat and Manjunath Shanabag

The relationship between the life sciences industry and healthcare practitioners has changed dramatically in recent years. It wasn’t that long ago that sales reps visited each practice to provide information about new products. That changed in the late 1990s and early 2000s as information became more digital. Now what doctors expect is on-demand information through personalized channels in order to become trusted advisors to their patients.

The relationship between patients and doctors also has changed completely. Today, patients expect more transparency, and they want to be partners in their own care. They want to know costs, benefits, side effects and competitor products. This information becomes even more critical when it comes to drugs to treat serious, long-term conditions such as cancer, heart disease and central nervous system (CNS) conditions.

Indeed, the journey that patients now expect and demand is one that moves from informing to engaging to empowering to partnering with them. So, life sciences companies must also ensure that they communicate and partner with patients in a transparent and clear way, treating both healthcare providers and patients as partners.

The industry is increasingly seeking to engage with patients by providing high-value services and to drive toward positive outcomes through patient engagement and support services. With the right approach and digital communications channels, the elusive holy grail of patient advocacy while remaining compliant with regulations can become a reality.

Making sense of data

At the heart of this communication lies data. In today’s digitized world, data is pervasive. It comes from more traditional sources, such as health records; it’s captured by patients through mobile devices and wearables; and it’s generated on social media and blogs through forums and posts. The data is both structured — for example, lab data, patient demographic data, etc. — and unstructured — for example, narrative text, images, blogs, etc. Captured within this structured and unstructured data is real-world evidence about products: how they are being used or misused, side effects, benefits, and so on. It also contains information about the general health and well-being of the patients, for example, their habits, whether they exercise, and so on.

The way to make sense of all this data is to develop a common platform and apply machine learning, artificial intelligence, data analytics and other capabilities to extract relevant information that can be leveraged by the broader health ecosystem. But to encourage patients and other stakeholders to share their data, it’s important to engage with them on their terms and to provide them with something of value.

For patients, the value of the information or support will likely depend on the disease state and where they are in their journeys. A patient newly diagnosed with cancer, for example, will want information at the start of the journey. Next, the patient will want to be engaged and empowered regarding treatment options. And ultimately, the patient will seek a partner to help manage various aspects, whether it is wellness, managing the financial issues associated with illness, or with loss of a loved one. A patient who has been diagnosed as prediabetic, on the other hand, will likely be looking for information on prevention and wellness.

Today, life sciences companies and other healthcare organizations are increasingly looking to collaborate and partner to help solve the issue of illness and drive toward wellness and prevention. The channels through which customized and personalized information delivery is achieved also become critical to overall positive patient engagement. The tendency to work in isolation toward a single goal — for example, drug development and treatment in the case of a pharmaceutical company — is breaking down. The objective of all organizations is to build a strong relationship with the patient.

Imagining a future state

Today we’re at a point where common platforms enabled by artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and data analytics are making it possible to leverage the right data at the right time. And with the right information leveraged from a common platform and extracted in an intelligent way using these platforms, healthcare practitioners and life sciences companies can enable digital intervention with patients and set them on the path to prevention, adherence and wellness.

We read so often about big data and data from social media being a threat. Yes, there are security issues that need to be managed; security must always be an integral part of any platform and technology. But when those security issues are accounted for and carefully managed, the data that can be derived from a common platform and the intelligence that can be gleaned through advanced technologies such as AI will allow healthcare providers and life sciences companies to build stronger relationships with patients — to guide them on the health journey from informing to engaging to empowering to partnering with them.

Manjunath Shanabag is a senior principal for digital transportation in DXC’s Life Sciences group. He has more than 20 years of expertise in strategizing and actualizing high-ROI and end-to-end solutions for life sciences clients. Manju helps DXC customers achieve their digital transformation goals by connecting their strategy with practical and executable solutions. He is a thought leader and global relationship manager, savvy in growing accounts through digital transformation, solution accelerators, premium assets and white papers.

Satish Nair is a digital strategist with 19 years of diverse experience in information technology.  He serves as the lead digital solution architect and strategist for DXC’s Healthcare & Life Sciences group. Satish is responsible for driving digital growth, crafting digital solutions, advising senior leadership on digital technology trends, and providing thought leadership to effectively grow client and DXC business.

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