Adapting to Digital PSPs – The need of the hour!

Over the years, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare providers and caregivers have observed difficulty in managing and implementing holistic treatment approaches. As patient expectations change, they begin to play an important part at every step of their health journey. Modernizing healthcare and focusing on newer approaches to engage with patients is becoming increasingly important and the industry is focusing towards redefining ways and aligning newer strategies to interact with patients at every step of the journey. Pharma’s is increasingly beginning to invest in improved Patient Support Programs

A survey conducted to understand the thoughts of doctors on patient support programs in India stated that 96 per cent of the sample size agreed that PSPs can improve patient outcomes, however 66 per cent of them were not satisfied with the existing solutions. Aspects like low patient engagement, poor execution, inadequate physician education, low industry participation were key gaps pointed out in the survey. Further, fifty percent of the group emphasized that ‘personalized assistance’ could lead to an increase in patient participation.

Until recently, support from pharmaceutical companies has been treatment specific with fragmented efforts into influencing the patient journey. However, this approach lacks continuity, ability for patients to reach out at their convenience or even high-quality scalable personalization. Companies need to understand that a patient’s journey begins from diagnosis and continues thereafter. It is important to understand patient generated data, interact in real-time and tailor treatment at every step.

Digital interventions have shown the potential to be an effective medium to offer practical, continuous, and patient behavior driven care.

With technology at the forefront, digital tools can help patients track their health on a regular basis, thereby offering and seeking advice or support from the respective health care team to self-manage in a better way (4). Monitoring devices and apps can be used to facilitate communication, thereby alerting patients and offering early intervention at critical points. Use of smartphones and intelligent devices can become a personalized support program (5), whereby routines, habits, and health goals are managed and captured behavioral factors can truly deliver results.

Today, quality of life and experience are parameters of prime importance for patients with a chronic illness. Companies are emphasizing on developing systems which offer more than clinical efficiency, especially for patients with chronic and degenerative ailments. Digital interventions can integrate different stakeholders of the healthcare ecosystem to deliver holistic care.

Many pharmaceutical companies are driven towards support programs built on behavioral science, thereby offering personalized treatment catering to patient needs in a timely manner. They have seen benefit in digital support programs, as it has largely improvised care, in difficult times. Through specialized support programs, pharma can help patients better onboard the treatment, ensure adherence, monitor adverse events and intervene at drop off points, to provide solutions that deliver better outcomes.

However, despite observing the potential to improve treatment, there are several concerns that need to be addressed before embracing technology to offer primary care. Industry, physicians and caregivers will have to understand factors like time, cost-efficiency, quality of information available, software and technological issues, data privacy, and insurance restrictions. (1,2) And digital efforts often need to be combined with physical footprint to support comprehensive care.

In today’s digital age, communication through several digital channels need to improve, as patients and families, both expect this to be personal and meaningful.