Focus group: Patient-Centricity according to Patients & Physicians
The Pharma Customer-Centricity index (click here to see results) is an annual quantitative global survey amongst physicians and reveals how customer-centric top pharmaceutical companies are perceived and what is the impact of Customer-Centricity on these companies’ performance.
To truly understand what Customer-Centricity means for the most important stakeholders, the Patients, we sat down and listened to them in a follow-up US Focus Group.
Four patient advocates and three leading specialists shared their view with us regarding Patient-Centricity and what this means in their daily lives, what is their definition of being Customer-Centric within pharma, what are best practices and unmet needs, etc. We are happy to share the main outcomes below.
There were three main topics that presented themselves during this round table discussion:
- Patients & physicians have a very different view on Customer-Centricity.
- The use of digital tools can stimulate Customer-Centricity.
- Trust in pharma/healthcare has steeply decreased and plays a critical role in customer-Centricity.
Different views on Customer-Centricity
Customer-Centricity for patients: A holistic approach
Patients see Customer-Centricity as a holistic concept. They want pharma & the physicians to treat the person, not just the disease. Continued care is key: it stands for the best treatment and support from diagnosis and even from prevention until medical rehabilitation including full aftercare. They want all stakeholders to work together to improve the patient’s life. It is much more than the relationship between the physician and the patient. The time these two spend together is minimal.
“I see 6 different specialists and they are all bad at continued care. Not once they have contacted each other. They operate in the siloes.”
Patient Advocate & Patient
Customer-Centricity for physicians: A linear approach
Physicians see themselves in a central role, together with the patient. In their view, they are the main point of contact between pharma and the patient and are responsible for the continued care for the patient.
Patients expect to get the best (coordinated) treatment at any time. Also; multiple parallel diagnoses result in multiple concomitant treatments and medications – each with their efficacy and adverse effects – prescribed by different treating specialists, physicians and or caregivers.
They see themselves as the key role in making the above happen. But they agree that today the focus is still too much on treating the disease rather than treating the patient. They recognise a couple of hurdles on the way to get there:
- The pressure on them to perform impacts the time they can make available to support the patient 1 on 1.
- Pharma could support them to perform better, with more comparative data that would give them more transparency on what is the best treatment in each condition.
- Also, more data on the interaction of concomitant treatments for parallel diagnoses
“The patients want more info but can’t get more info. Therefore the relationship between patient & physician is critical. Physicians should let the patient feel that they can ask anything they need to know.”
Leadings specialist in Gastroenterology
Both patient & physician feel that there is a need for more relevant information. Once again, we see the linear view of the physician versus the holistic view of the patient.
The physicians see themselves as the central point of contact for the patient. It is the physician who as access to the different data sources, and so it should be the physician who gives relevant info to the patient in a transparent way. Physicians believe that pharma can help support them better by using digital tools. Today some of the pharma companies do this, but there is still room for improvement.
The patient from their side wants more info about the drugs they are taking, about the side effects, the procedure of the cure they are following, etc. The patient does not per se expects all this info coming from the physician. Pharmacies were mentioned as best practises here. They personalize their engagement with their customers much more than pharma. They create applications with which they can communicate with them and bend the offer to their needs.
“I see way too few organisations making use of ‘contextual education’. E.g. When I’m diagnosed I would immediately get an explanation of what that diagnosis means”
Another thing we saw very clearly during this round table, was the fact that patients have lost their trust in pharma & healthcare. Without trust, the concept of Customer-Centricity loses its value.
It is hard to put the finger on the exact cause of this mistrust. One thing is for sure, COVID has only made this mistrust more visible but it was already there, even before COVID started. Pharma’s quick response to the virus has many people questioning pharma’s general interest in helping the public. Suddenly, things move very quickly because of political and economic interest. With many rare diseases, this is not at all the case. These people feel left out & they feel monetized.
Patients also feel that apart from COVID, there are a lot of pharma companies who act like they are customer-centric, but in reality, there are not. Patients think it is difficult to distinguish genuine actions, in which the goals truly are becoming more patient-centric, from actions where the sole scope is ROI. When the latter is the case, surveys of pharma can even be perceived as a tool to sell more drugs, instead of an attempt of trying to understand the patient better. There is also a lot of misleading information out there, which does not help.
“If everyone is in the race to find a COVID19 trial, hasn’t anyone embarked upon exploring a treatment for my condition”
The issues we have just described above are worth our attention. We should try to resolve them where we can, hence improving the patient experience . Because it is the patient at the end of it all. What the patient must go through is tough, exhausting and sometimes, never-ending.
Customer-Centricity is a complex concept and has many truths. In this conclusion, we want to point out that there is not one correct solution to the problem. How can it be, the problem is defined differently depending on who’s answering. Where you stand is where you sit.
“There is a spectrum of the type of patient. Some are active, some are passive.”
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