One of the biggest problems that pharmaceutical firms across the world, irrespective of their size or influence over patient populations, have faced is the difficulty in initiating meaningful engagement with the patient over sustained periods of time.
This is not a myth. Patients are more willing to compromise their personal information to doctors and hospitals, i.e., institutions they see and deem as more trustworthy due to their ‘personal touch’ than they are to pharmaceutical firms. According to the 2016 HRI consumer survey, an unprecedented 88% of patients would be willing to share more information with their own doctors to aid new discoveries in treatments as compared to just 53% of patients ready to initiate this sensitive relationship with a pharmaceutical firm. And this lack of trust is quite evident in the stagnant growth rates of the prescription drugs worldwide, having grown from $649 billion in 2008 to small improvement of $774 billion in 2017.
The market does have a better outlook on sales from 2018 onwards with predictions of sales crossing the $1000 billion mark by 2022. But a lot of that is bent around uncertainty, which can only be successfully countered by initiating viable countermeasures, among which, one of the most significant moves is generating more pharmaceutical engagement. Engagement can positively be driven but what didn’t work up till now won’t work in the next phase as well. More popular ad campaigns or public awareness programs lack the personal touch required to generate real engagements patterns that can be sustained over more extended periods of time.
For pharmaceutical firms across the globe, one of the most viable methods to achieve much better results from their engagements is to seek out and inculcate the deployment of telehealth methods into their engagement and outreach initiatives. Telehealth is definitely one of the most resounding tools in channeling quality healthcare to deprived patients in far-flung areas, especially in developing countries where there the proliferation of doctors and healthcare facilities are abysmally low to tackle complex medical issues. Recent advancements in technology have allowed telehealth to be utilized in a much more better and connected way. Smartphones have become an integral part of our lives, and along with that, people are becoming increasingly connected to the internet, making it advantageously possible to provide them with healthcare solutions on the go. And in this lies the key to generating sustainable engagement for pharmaceutical firms.
There have been successful examples around the world of telehealth being utilized to provide constant care and support to patients who otherwise did not have access to it. In Russia, it is complicated to deliver viable healthcare solutions to all of its populace due to the large area. The St. Petersburg Cardiac Monitoring Service, in collaboration with Aerotel Medical Systems, an Israel telehealth solutions provider, has initiated a program to monitor and provide care to people with heart ailments or those are at a risk of acquiring them. The Monitoring service accomplishes its aim by providing patients with portable Electrocardiogram or ECG devices and then monitoring individual traces from the tools to provide patients with the recommended course of action and that too, within minutes. The advice is equivalent to that of an expert, and it doesn’t end here. The report is also transmitted to the patient’s concerned doctor who can also monitor the seriousness of the patient’s condition at the time. It’s a win-win situation for every stakeholder involved, i.e. from the doctor to the patient and from the healthcare providers to the government agencies. Telehealth initiatives can have far-reaching consequences in helping to stem the flow of dangerous diseases or assisting in controlling the damage they might cause. For pharmaceutical firms, engagement can be led through similar telehealth initiatives and with technology thrown into the mix, equipment such as tracking devices for vital signs, smartphone apps for medical diagnostics and even chip implants can help pharmaceutical companies in driving meaningful engagement directly with their consumers, thereby building trust with them along the way.
People are definitely going to share their medical histories and info with pharmaceutical firms if they believe that this process is going to benefit their recovery programs or help them in progressing faster from their ailments. The preferences of patients have changed drastically over the years, and they no longer want to give the entire control of their treatment plans in the hands of doctors or healthcare facilities. Patients are now more willing than ever of learning on how to take charge and make decisions that affect their health on an independent basis. This could lead to drastic change in how the relationship between pharmaceutical firms and consumers once stood.
Doctors might even become secondary in this new world if pharmaceutical engagement plans are good enough to provide patients with a sense of control over their illnesses. And for this scenario to come to fruition, telehealth is indispensable. Something has to replace the dependence of patients on doctors, and that can only be a set of reliable tools coupled with sound knowledge. The gap indeed exists between utilizing telehealth initiatives to drive high pharmaceutical engagement, but the path goes only through this door as far as pharmaceutical firms are concerned.
Not all programs will drive the expected benefits, some may even backfire, there might be sensitive issues out where they shouldn’t be, but these all are just risks that need to be taken if the final outcome is to be achieved. The road towards building patient trust in the most real sense of the word might still be far off, but telehealth is one of the most viable tools that pharmaceutical firms can bet their futures on for the better.
About the author:
Rachael Everly loves to write on the topics related to business leadership, finance, technology and education. Her passion and flare for writing got her to write for topics that interest her such as recent technological trends and how they shape the business world. Her thought-provoking writing style has made her work to be recognized on well-known websites. She has been featured on some of the top blogs such as Inman, Forbes, Escape Artist and many others currently associated with Equip Sells It, a heavy machinery and equipment dealer in Sanford, Florida for their blogging operations. Follow her on Twitter @RachaelEverly, become friends on Facebook and connect with her on Linkedin for further updates.