Boosting the impact of patient services

New research from Accenture has revealed that adoption of patient support services hasn’t improved since 2015 despite increasing pharma investment. The company’s Jennifer Spada tells us how companies can boost awareness of their programmes to improve patient outcomes.

As part of its drive towards patient centricity, the pharma industry has increasingly been building patient support programmes that can offer beyond-the-pill services to patients. The market for patient engagement solutions was worth $8.8 billion in 2017 and is projected to reach $18.68 billion in 2022, an annual growth rate of 16.2%.

These programmes can help guide a patient through complex information about diagnosis and treatment choices, or aid them with information on the medical and financial aspects of care, and also include day-to-day care management such as medication reminders, symptom monitoring, and nursing support.

Research has shown that when patients utilise these services, adherence increases, quality of life improves, hospitalisations and ER visits are reduced, and survival rates rise.

 

• Read the full article in pharmaphorum’s Deep Dive digital magazine

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How to Capitalize on Digital Health Momentum in 2021

How to Capitalize on Digital Health Momentum in 2021
Adam Sabloff, Founder and CEO of VirtualHealth

As we re-examine the healthcare system in the wake of the pandemic, we are continually identifying opportunities to rebuild parts of the system to new and improved specifications. One critical facet is digital health, where we continue to struggle with what should really be table stakes: the ability to integrate data from disparate organizations and systems into a unified view of the whole person and take action.

During the height of the pandemic, telehealth made it possible to deliver care that was personal yet socially responsible. As a direct benefit, the use of digital health tools on both the clinical and consumer side picked up a tremendous and timely head of steam. But what will become of these innovations once we make our eventual return to normal?

Today, many healthcare consumers can talk to a therapist or a counselor through text, monitor glucose levels through a diabetes app and meet with their primary care provider over videoconference. The challenge is that a lot of this patient data is still landlocked in electronic medical record (EMR) systems that do not communicate or coordinate with one another or with payer systems or consumer apps.

The sustainability and applicability of digital health tools are still often questioned despite reports that investors had poured a staggering $5.4 billion into the digital health industry just by June of this year (Rock Health). The key to success is to seamlessly connect these tools with legacy systems and siloed access points to create a truly integrated healthcare continuum. Jumping between systems, each holding only its own limited slice of patient data, and then trying to take action on this data, is neither scalable nor sustainable.

Healthcare consumers have long looked at the seamless nature of apps in other areas of life and asked for a similar level of accessibility and on-demand, high-quality information from the healthcare system. Accenture found in its 2020 Digital Health Consumer Survey that although consumers are interested in virtual services, a cumbersome digital experience turns them off. Additionally, the survey found that concerns over privacy, security, and trust remain, along with difficulty integrating new tools and services into day-to-day clinical workflows.

The good news is that the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) has made several major data exchange rulings this year that will push providers and payer organizations to update legacy systems to make consumer health data more assessable and sharable across all parties, all for the benefit of the patient.

The Stage is Set: Healthcare Leaders Must Act, Now

The incredible investments in the industry, increasing consumer demand, and data sharing regulation show that healthcare connectivity and interoperability have never been more essential. To ensure that the digital health transformation and remote healthcare delivery models progress optimally beyond the current environment, we must support healthcare organizations in evolving their infrastructure and software capabilities to support this kind of strategy. This is where health tech has a critical role to play in building flexible pipes to connect the full spectrum of repositories and players, including doctors, specialists, nurses, care managers, health coaches, caregivers, and, of course, the healthcare consumer.

What does this look like in practice? Imagine if an unusually high heart rate warning was triggered by a patient’s smartwatch, which then alerted the patient’s care manager to check-in. With a comprehensive view of that patient, the care manager calls the patient to assess if they are okay and learns the patient ran out of their prescription which helps lower the heart rate. Knowing that patient does not have access to a car and is afraid to take public transportation due to COVID-19, the care manager then sets up a prescription delivery straight to that patient’s doorstep.

Through this process, digital health tools, patient data, and social determinants of health all came together to equip that care manager to deliver personalized care to the patient. Sound like sci-fi? This innovative approach can actually be a reality for organizations that manage large populations. The key is educating more healthcare leaders about the benefits of a comprehensive healthcare platform that improves health outcomes, lowers costs and increases member satisfaction. 

This all starts with a platform that coordinates and aggregates the siloes of data and tools (clinical and digital) into a central hub. that allows providers to oversee the access points, plans, and processes in a patient’s healthcare journey without the task of building or maintaining the system themselves. This can be a game-changer in the way we assess and treat patients and help the industry to fully realize the dream of truly comprehensive, coordinated care.


About Adam Sabloff

Adam Sabloff is the founder and CEO of VirtualHealth, provider of HELIOS, the leading SaaS care management platform, serving more than 9 million members across the U.S. Prior to VirtualHealth, Sabloff served as VP of Development and Chief Marketing Officer for Midtown Equities, a $7 billion real estate, media and aviation conglomerate, where he also oversaw its technology subsidiary, Midtown Technologies.


12 Recently Launched COVID-19 Vaccine Management Solutions to Know

12 Recently Launched COVID-19 Vaccine Management Solutions

An in-depth look at twelve recently released COVID-19 vaccine management solutions as COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed nationwide.

1. Microsoft

Microsoft
launches a COVID-19 vaccine management platform with partners Accenture and
Avanade, EY, and Mazik Global to help government and healthcare customers
provide fair and equitable vaccine distribution, administration, and monitoring
of vaccine delivery.

Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) has deployed over 230 emergency COVID-19 response missions globally since the pandemic began in March, including recent engagements to ensure the equitable, secure, and efficient distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

2. Accenture

Accenture recently rolled out a comprehensive vaccine management solution to help government and healthcare organizations rapidly and effectively plan and develop COVID-19 vaccination programs and related distribution and communication initiatives. Expanding on Accenture’s contact tracing capability that leverages Salesforce’s manual contact tracing solution, the platform is rapidly deployable and designed to securely track a resident’s vaccination journey, from registration and appointment scheduling to final vaccine administration and symptom follow-ups.

3. VigiLanz

VigiLanz, a clinical surveillance company launched their new mass vaccination support software, VigiLanz Vaccinate provides end-to-end management of the entire vaccination process, enabling hospitals to maximize the success of mass vaccination events for healthcare workers. VigiLanz Vaccinate streamlines vaccine administration and management by making it easy for staff to register and provide consent while automating workflows for program administrators. Its real-time insights into volume needs to reduce vaccine waste, while analytics give visibility into vaccination and immunity rates at the individual, department, hospital, and system-level.

4. BioIntelliSense

UCHealth recently deployed BioIntelliSense BioButton™ Vaccine
Monitoring Solution
, an FDA-cleared medical-grade wearable for continuous
vital sign monitoring for up to 90-days (based on configuration) to healthcare
workers receiving COVID-19 vaccine UCHealth’s staff and providers will wear the
BioButton device for two days prior and seven days following a COVID-19 vaccine dose
to detect potential adverse vital sign trends. Together with a daily
vaccination health survey and data insights, the wearer may be alerted of signs
and symptoms to guide appropriate follow-up actions and further medical management.

5. VaxAtlas

VaxAtlas launches a
digital platform to support the COVID-19 vaccination process making it easy for
anyone to schedule and manage their vaccinations. Through a comprehensive suite
of on-demand tools, VaxAtlas manages the process of getting COVID vaccinations
from beginning to end. The platform provides access to a national certified
pharmacy network for local appointment scheduling, recall alerts, second dose
reminders, as well as QR clearance passes for vaccine validation. VaxAtlas
alleviates the complexity associated with vaccine logistics and helps to get
people back to work and back to living their lives.

6. DocASAP

DocASAP launches COVID-19
Vaccination Coordination Solution to help healthcare providers and payers meet
the urgent demand for vaccinating the nation. DocASAP’s COVID-19 Vaccination
Coordination Solution will help providers and payers guide people through the
vaccination process with pre-appointment engagement, online appointment scheduling
and reminders, and post-appointment wellness tracking. This will help reduce
the burden on staff and call centers to manage the sheer volume and complexity
of these appointments, and better coordinate the influx so providers can
effectively deliver the needed care. DocASAP will support the phased approach
to rolling out vaccinations, beginning with front-line healthcare staff.

7. Allied Identity

Allied Identity announced the launch of Vaxtrac, comprehensive vaccination management and credentialing platform designed to aid in the local, national and international response to COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. Vaxtrac uses SICPA’s proprietary CERTUS™ service in order to ensure the security of vaccination records and credentials.

8. Net Health

Net Health has developed a proprietary web-based Mobile Immunization Tracking platform to more efficiently manage on-site
immunizations. To ensure compliance, Net Health’s Mobile Immunization
Tracking platform tracks verification and enables employee consent forms to be
electronically recorded. Immunization data and the Vaccine Information Sheet
(VIS) are pulled directly from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) database
and fields are auto-populated so clinicians do not have to manually enter data.
This ensures information in the employee record is accurate and saves time as
the clinician moves from one employee to the next.

9. Traction on Demand

Vancouver tech company, Traction on Demand,
has developed a COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Accelerator. The accelerator helps
health authorities track all the critical details of their clinics including
type, location, staff members, and cold storage units available on-site and
applies CDC’s COVID-19 Temporary Clinic Best Practices to a
Salesforce-based mobile app, providing organizations with a digitized CDC
checklist, auditable clinic administration including a permanent auditable
record of all vaccination clinics an organization holds, critical risk
identification, and shift tracking.

10. MTX Group

MTX Group launches a
comprehensive end-to-end COVID-19 vaccine administration, management, and
distribution Solution for state and local public health agencies built on
Salesforce. The MTX vaccine management solution brings together the various
components of a COVID-19 vaccination program, including vaccine administration
and inventory management. MTX also works with public health departments to
identify necessary steps to promote vaccination adoption within a community.
The vaccine management solution is secure, portable, interoperable, and
provides data-driven vaccination program management capabilities.

11. Infosys

The Infosys
Vaccination Management (IVM) Salesforce Solution
is an end-to-end offering
for automating tasks, integrating data sources, and delivering a seamless
vaccination program that offers supply chain visibility and future demand
forecasting. Disparate systems won’t work for this unprecedented health crisis.

12. Phresia

Phresia provides an end-to-end COVID-19 vaccine management solution for outreach, intake, reminder, and recall tools to increase vaccine uptake. Key features include communicating with patients about vaccine availability, send appointment reminders and boost recall, manage your waitlist, automate patient intake for vaccine visits, including consents, questionnaires, and patient education, and screen patients for vaccine hesitancy and maximize uptake by delivering personalized messaging based on those survey results.

Microsoft Deploys COVID-19 Vaccine Management Platform

Microsoft Deploys COVID-19 Vaccine Management Platform

What You Should Know:

– Microsoft launches a COVID-19 vaccine management platform with partners Accenture and Avanade, EY, and Mazik Global to help government and healthcare customers provide fair and equitable vaccine distribution, administration, and monitoring of vaccine delivery. 

– Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) has deployed
over 230 emergency COVID-19 response missions globally since the pandemic began
in March, including recent engagements to ensure the equitable, secure and
efficient distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.


With COVID-19 vaccines soon to be available, Microsoft
announced it has launched a COVID-19 vaccine management platform together with
industry partners Accenture, Avandae, EY, and Mazik Global. The COVID-19
vaccine management solutions will enable registration capabilities for patients
and providers, phased scheduling for vaccinations, streamlined reporting, and
management dashboarding with analytics and forecasting.

These offerings are helping public health agencies and
healthcare providers to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to individuals in an
efficient, equitable and safe manner. The underlying technologies and approach
have been tested and deployed with prior COVID-19 use cases, including contact
tracing, COVID-19 testing, and return to work and return to school programs.

To date, Microsoft
Consulting Services (MCS)
 has deployed over 230 emergency COVID-19
response missions globally since the pandemic began in March, including recent
engagements to ensure the equitable, secure and efficient distribution of the
COVID-19 vaccine. MCS has developed an offering, the Vaccination Registration
and Administration Solution (VRAS), which advances the capabilities of their
COVID-19 solution portfolio and enables compliant administration of resident
assessment, registration and phased scheduling for vaccine distribution. 

Key features of the solutions include:

– tracking and reporting of immunization progress through
secure data exchange that utilizes industry standards, such as Health Level
Seven (HL7), Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) and open APIs.

– health providers and pharmacies can monitor and report on
the effectiveness of specific vaccine batches, and health administrators can
easily summarize the achievement of vaccine deployment goals in large
population groups

Partnership Offerings

Microsoft partners have leveraged the Microsoft cloud to
provide customers with additional offerings to support vaccine management.
These offerings also apply APIs, HL7 and FHIR to enable interoperability and
integration with existing systems of record, artificial intelligence to
generate accurate and geo-specific predictive analytics, and secure
communications using Microsoft Teams.

EY has partnered with Microsoft for the EY Vaccine
Management Solution to enable patient-provider engagement, supply chain
visibility, and Internet of Things (IoT) real-time monitoring of the vaccines.
Additionally, the EY Vaccine Analytics Solution is an integrated COVID-19 data
and analytics tool supporting stakeholders in understanding population and
geography-specific vaccine uptake.

Mazik Global has created the MazikCare Vaccine Flow that is built on Power Apps and utilizes
pre-built templates to implement scalable solutions to accelerate the mass
distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Providers will be able to seek out
specific populations based on at-risk criteria to prioritize distribution.
Patients can self-monitor and have peace of mind to head-off adverse reactions.

Level Ex pitches gaming as a tool for reaching doctors

Interactive, cloud-based video games are designed to tackle pharma’s current challenge: engaging doctors virtually during a pandemic. But the tools are likely to outlive the circumstances in which they were born.

4 Actions to Elevate the Patient Experience and Spark Growth

4 Actions to Elevate the Patient Experience and Spark Growth

What You Should Know:

– According to a new report from Accenture, 2 out of 3 patients are likely to switch to a new healthcare provider if their expectations for managing COVID-19 are not met, including sanitary and safety protocols, access to up-to-date information, and the availability of virtual care options.

–  Accenture identified four ways to improve the patient experience, and therefore your path to recovery, during, and after the pandemic.


The COVID-19 pandemic forced hospitals, providers, and payer networks to drastically overhaul and restructure their systems to accommodate virtual care models. As a result, health systems’ revenue and patient volume plummeted, made worse by the industry’s slow-to-adopt virtual care practices that deprioritized the importance of patient experiences.

Elevating the Patient Experience to Fuel Growth

According to a new report from Accenture, 2 out of 3 patients are likely to switch to a new healthcare provider if their expectations for managing COVID-19 are not met, including sanitary and safety protocols, access to up-to-date information, and the availability of virtual care options. Based on a survey of more than 4,600 U.S. respondents, the report, “Elevating the Patient Experience to Fuel Growth,” notes that patients are looking for a safer, more secure, and convenient healthcare experience — including strict sanitary and safety protocols as well as virtual care options. In addition, those who believe their healthcare providers handled COVID-19 poorly were three times more likely than satisfied patients to say they will either delay seeking services for at least a year or never return to that healthcare provider.

By prioritizing consumer experience and delivering new
virtual expectations, providers can maintain their patient base and
grow market share by capturing switchers ready to leave competitors –
potentially increasing their revenues by 5% to 10% pre-COVID levels within
12 months. For a $5 billion health system, this could be between $250
million and $500 million in additional annual revenues.

“Our research clearly shows that the patient experience matters now more than ever,” said Jean-Pierre Stephan, managing director, Accenture Health. “This should be interpreted as positive news because it means the future is in the hands of healthcare providers to embrace change and provide better healthcare experiences. We’re advising providers take this opportunity to offer a holistic, digital approach that centers on the patient’s access to quality care and post-care services; this will better position healthcare providers for long-term growth.”

In turn, Accenture recommends four actions that healthcare providers can
take to improve the patient experience.

1. Address patient concerns in a personalized manner

Communicate specific actions taken to protect patients —
such as offering separate entrances, allowing contactless payment and online
paperwork, or even describing the advanced level of protective gear used by
staff. When possible, physicians should deliver the message directly.

2. Meet people at the front door

Address unique patient needs and ease COVID-19 concerns before
a patient steps foot into the office or enters a virtual waiting room. Embed
new safety and wellness protocols and practices throughout every interaction,
from finding a doctor to scheduling an appointment or completing registration
in advance of a visit. In fact, the survey found that 74% of patients are now
likely to use online chat or texting to provide check-in information before
their appointment if such a service is available.

3. Enhance virtual care capabilities

Develop new models that use more virtual care, from bookings
to meetings, so that those who remain wary of in-person care have more options.
Patients have indicated a strong desire for this to happen. In a survey of 2,700 patients that Accenture conducted
in May, 60% said that based on their experience using virtual care and
devices during the pandemic, they want to use technology more for communicating
with healthcare providers and managing their conditions in the
future. 

4. Listen through social channels

Actively monitor local and national social channels to
gather real-time insight into patient perceptions and community sentiment. This
enables quick operational pivots to address consumer needs and measure progress
along the way.

“While many health systems have improved safety protocols in light of COVID-19, they must also make the patient experience a top priority, not just to convince people to return, but also to lead the way in re-imagining the future of healthcare,” Stephan said. “In this new future of care, health systems need to provide effective, trusted, reliable care—both in person and virtually—while instilling confidence and demonstrating safety and respect. Otherwise, patients are likely to switch to other providers who are reinventing how healthcare services are delivered.”

Digital therapeutics: Why human psychology is key to adoption

The healthcare system is running at its limits in many countries worldwide. One reason is the growing demand for healthcare, largely driven by the rise of chronic diseases. COVID-19 has further underscored just how stretched the system is today. Is there any solution to the twin challenge of managing costs while extending capacity?

We believe that digital technologies are an important part of the answer. Although still in early stages, it is poised for broader adoption thanks to recent technological advances. While digital won’t help solve all the problems in our healthcare system, it will significantly contribute to easing the cost and capacity burden.

One particularly promising area in this context is digital therapeutics. Based on the analysis of individual patient data, patients receive personalised medical recommendations – through an app or a digital platform – without the need for physician intervention. Digital therapeutics can help patients stick to treatment plans and/or better understand what triggers critical situations. Digital therapeutics are already available for different indications including diabetes or asthma and are being developed in many other areas as well.

• Read the full article in pharmaphorum’s Deep Dive digital magazine

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Enabling innovation by connecting an ecosystem of partners

COVID-19 has been a shock to the system for every industry, not least pharma, but the sector is already looking at new ways to build resilience for the future.

Kevin Nikitczuk, INTIENT Network lead at Accenture, notes that collaboration and innovation are two of the key aspects that allow pharma to be ready for (hopefully unlikely) future situations akin to the pandemic.

“With COVID-19, the industry has realised that they need to accelerate and expedite everything they do – from identifying new targets to executing clinical studies to getting drugs onto the market.”

The sharing of knowledge has already been critical in the industry’s collaborative efforts to expedite a COVID-19 vaccine, and Nikitczuk believes that this open approach should extend beyond research into the software and data tools pharma uses every day.

A current problem, he notes, is that each of the many steps on this path requires different software tools – and most companies are using myriad different platforms within their organisation.

Part of this is an issue with unproductive competition – which can sometimes be a road blocker for innovation, particularly when proprietary technology is custom-built by niche players or developed in-house.

But it’s also true that over recent years – and especially during the course of the pandemic – the pace of technological growth in pharma has exploded, meaning there are more possible solutions available than ever, including more patient-facing technology such as telemedicine.

“We have some partners providing very similar tools to each other, and that’s okay, because we want to provide clients with options… I think that helps foster collaboration and encourages a little bit of healthy competition – which is always good for science”

This fragmented landscape creates issues for pharma.

“If, for example, regulations change or new standards for processing data come out, companies are going to face difficulties if they don’t have the proper infrastructure to quickly pivot out their software with new tools,” Nikitczuk says.

“Because of that, they may miss out on getting their products to patients in time.”

Nikitczuk believes that open, cross-company collaboration will be key to building flexibility and, ultimately, resilience against these difficulties.

Accenture, for example, decided to take its previously siloed platform products in areas as diverse as research, clinical studies and patient support and bring them under one umbrella.

The resulting INTIENT Platform brings together multiple third-party tools to allow continuity and flow of data across software and companies, whilst also facilitating insights delivered by artificial intelligence.

Rahul Kabra, INTIENT’s Europe lead, says he hopes the platform will streamline and accelerate collaboration across an entire product life cycle.

“We have partners providing patient facing capabilities in the form of medical devices or tools to enhance adherence. We also have partners providing the backend technology to secure personal data or manage workflows.

“Pharma and external partners can now use all these tools under one, end-to-end platform.”

In fact, Nikitczuk notes that clients themselves had a large role to play in pushing for a joined-up approach – showing that the spirit of collaboration in the industry is putting to rest any concerns that competition will continue to be a barrier.

“Our clients started pointing out that even though they were subscribed to several of our platforms, these tools weren’t talking to each other, and everything was still siloed.

“We took their advice and worked with them to bring these platforms together onto one end-to-end solution. Then we started working on bringing third-party vendors in. It’s been really great to see the collaborations blossom.”

To further this, Accenture is encouraging clients to develop their own software tools or bring their existing niche partners into the ecosystem and strengthen its capabilities.

It is also further encouraging open collaboration by keeping the platform solution-agnostic.

“We have some partners providing very similar tools to each other, and that’s okay, because some clients have a preference for certain vendors, and we want to be able to showcase that and provide clients with options.

“I think that helps foster collaboration and encourages a little bit of healthy competition – which is always good for science.”

Another reason for this approach is the fact that, traditionally, trying to get a software solution into a pharma company has been quite an endeavour.

“First you have to navigate procurement, which can be inhibitive for smaller start-ups. Even well-established firms struggle to get new products installed in large companies or even single departments which can be a time- and resource-intensive activity. We want to make this process incredibly fast.”

Nikitczuk adds that the more this partnership ecosystem and infrastructure is built up, the easier it will be to get future solutions onto the platform and into pharma companies.

Kabra adds that, as with pharma companies sharing knowledge to develop COVID-19 vaccines, he hopes that open collaborations like this in software will allow life science companies to take advantage of the collective intelligence of independent vendors who have poured all their time, energy, and passion into developing solutions – which, in turn, will enable the industry to  push boundaries and accelerate innovation.

“By being more open, the industry can allow companies the flexibility to test and implement new, potentially game-changing technologies,” Kabra says.

“We might even see the days of laborious, expensive, and inefficient procurement and implementation processes become a thing of the past.”

This is part of the draw of true open collaboration – when different companies are aligned to the same goals, processes that once took months to do can be done in days, or even less.

“As the biopharma landscape grows and evolves, we must continue to uncover new insights and innovative uses for data,” says Kabra. “By doing so, we develop new opportunities to raise the standard and personalisation of patient care and accelerate treatments to market.”

Luckily, it seems that the industry is more than ready to be truly collaborative and drive this collective mission forward.

To learn more about how Accenture is bringing companies together, click here.

About the interviewees

Kevin NikitczukKevin Nikitczuk is a senior principal within Accenture’s Life Sciences, leading the network partnerships for the INTIENT platform. Kevin has an in-depth working knowledge of life science R&D after years of laboratory and corporate experience within the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical devices fields. Kevin earned a PhD in Immuno-Oncology from Rutgers University and has published peer-reviewed articles on his work and holds several patents.

Rahul KabraRahul has over 25 years’ experience in technology strategy, innovation, global partnerships and solution development. He has previously held positions as a Strategy Lead for Accenture’s Products Group, and as the Ecosystem and Ventures Lead for Accenture Technology. Rahul holds a degree in Computing from City University London, and an MBA from Henley Business School.

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Takeda Collaborates with Accenture and AWS to Transform into a Cloud-Based Company

Shots:

  • Takeda has entered into a five-year agreement with Accenture and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to support the company in moving 80% of its applications to the cloud and modernizing its research tools
  • The transition of Takeda’s applications to the cloud will enable the company to remove non-differentiating technology and create a scalable architecture. The collaboration will leverage cloud and data-driven insights to accelerate drug development, increase operational agility, reduce technology costs, and develop the workforce of the future
  • Additionally, the collaboration with Accenture and AWS has already helped the Takeda to use the cloud in launching a clinical trial acceleration and secure data-sharing platform for the COVID R&D Alliance in <5days. The COVID R&D Alliance is a consortium comprising 20 companies, including Takeda, Amgen, and AbbVie to study and identify the potential of COVID-19 therapies

    Click here to­ read the full press release/ article | Ref: Takeda | Image: Enterprise Talk

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Why intelligent automation is the future for regulation

There are a host of new, previously unimaginable tools and techniques – from analytics to robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) – available to help speed up processes and increase data accuracy. But for many life sciences organisations, these tools are either not yet fully adopted or are not being put to good use within their regulatory functions.

In Accenture’s Intelligent Life Sciences: Redefining Regulatory through Intelligent Automation report, we underscore how automation can help regulatory professionals in life science organisations bring products to patients faster.

Adopting intelligent automation could help organisations realise disruptive benefits that are above and beyond the tangible gains of cost, quality and productivity improvements. By applying intelligent automation, companies could realistically expect to enable: the seamless distribution of product information in a variety of multimedia channels to all internal and external stakeholders; rapid and accelerated implementation of product advances that could propel continuous improvement; and advanced prediction of risks to mitigate against resource capacity constraints – which have been highlighted during COVID-19.

For many companies, it could be realistic to automate as much as half of the manual maintenance tasks currently performed, resulting in significantly different future operating models where blended roles will prevail with strategic product oversight.

“One of the most common mistakes companies make is to allow business units to carry automation initiatives in silos”

But where to begin?

Where do you begin this transformation? Start with the data. Companies need to change the way people collect, curate, interpret and apply data for regulatory submissions and improve confidence in that data. According to Accenture research, most organisations are still struggling to understand the basic ‘truth’ of the data they use and exchange with others. The Accenture Technology Vision survey found just one-third of 103 life sciences executives have high confidence in their data and validate it extensively. To improve data confidence regulatory executives should take a four-step approach to change how they:

  1. Collect Data: Life sciences organisations should utilise cloud-based solutions with global access that facilitates one repository with a single source of truth and eliminates the use of local file sharing and servers. By integrating applications across the end-to-end value chain, they eradicate data entry duplication.
  2. Curate Data: Regulatory specialists need to apply data standardisation and master data management to define the right granular level of data for storage. This needs to be done up front. By implementing robust data governance and management, they can maintain data quality and integrity. By ensuring traceability of data evolution, as well as end-to-end transparency of submission status and its components, they help promote confidence in the data itself.
  3. Interpret Data: Executives need to make more use of readily available data to drive business decisions and optimise operations. They should be applying analytics to past submission data to recommend future submission content plans and pre-empt and mitigate health authority (HA) questions.
  4. Apply Data: Regulatory employees should be using stored data to intelligently create submission documents. By limiting documents full of free text fields and subjectivity companies can adopt a more digitised approach, where document templates can be compiled automatically from available data. Making real-time data accessible to the consumers of the information when and where it’s needed increases the likelihood of buy-in to the system’s value-add. In this way, manufacturing scheduling can be optimised, and batch release decisions more informed. This, in turn, enables healthcare practitioners to get the most up-to-date product information at their fingertips.

Focusing on the business outcomes of how data can be interpreted and applied, through implementation of analytics, RPA and AI, will help strengthen your data vision, enhance your data stewardship culture and provide financial justification for investing in improved data management. This is crucial because all signs point to a future world order of increasing volumes and complexity of new products coming to market, and digital support is a must have – not a nice to have – to handle this workload.

What intelligent automation to consider?

As companies make the move into the realms of intelligent automation, there are 3 key considerations that need to be considered from the offset.

  1. Set the North Star vision: Discuss the company strategy and pipeline considerations for the next 3-5 years and what the business objectives to achieve this strategy are. Is the driver for intelligent automation waste reduction and cost saving, or the speed at which innovative products are being brought to patients? Define the priority focus areas for your intelligent automation roadmap and evaluate the balance of ‘quick wins’ versus longer term strategy initiatives.
  2. Create the Operational Blueprint: Outline what the future processes look like with the inclusion of intelligent automation. What activities remain and from where should they be performed? Consider how job descriptions and roles will evolve to account for the transformed future working environment.
  3. Prototype, automate, evaluate, repeat: Establish the infrastructure to prototype at speed and fail fast. Consider how to implement in an agile, modular manner that gradually combines into an end-to-end solution. Carefully evaluate benefits realised.
“Lack of communication on how the workforce will be re-purposed post automation implementation can lead to internal unrest and possible attrition”

Here are some example use cases showing how Intelligent Automation is changing the game:

Regulatory Requirements & Content Plans

  • Business Challenge: Maintaining data on submission requirements is a constant challenge. As a result, market requirements gathering is often repeated for each submission, generating longer lead-times. Additionally, insights gained from HA feedback are not incorporated into submissions, reducing first time submission approval accuracy.
  • Solution: Analytics can compare new submission properties against past submissions to suggest a content plan based on the closest match, and most recent, approved submission.

Health Authority Correspondence Processing

  • Business Challenge: Timely recording of submission approval dates or tracking of HA questions can be challenging when information received by affiliates needs deciphering and translating before being entered into regulatory systems.
  • Solution: AI tools can translate and decipher letters without the need for local affiliate intervention and automatically enter information in Regulatory Information Management systems for stakeholders to act upon.

Label Authoring and Tracking

  • Business Challenge: Managing and providing traceability of the roll out of global label updates is onerous based on language nuances, implementation considerations and replicated data terms across multiple documents which can lead to a high risk of product label inconsistencies.
  • Solution: AI tools can take the complexity out of mapping global-to-local terms and automatically suggest what updates are needed where, as well as provide end-to-end traceability of the update progress.

As companies make the move to adopt intelligent automation, they need to make sure their projects are: business-outcome oriented (rather than simply automating a task or function); human-centred (so they don’t just eliminate repetitive tasks but rather free up people to focus on higher-value analysis, decision making and innovation); and technology rich (i.e. integrated into the broader architecture of data sources and applications).

How do you ensure success?

And there are pitfalls to avoid. One of the most common mistakes companies (across all industries) make is to allow business units to carry automation initiatives in silos. You should drive home the notion of ‘one company’ and keep an eagle-eye out for cowboys building their own rogue programmes. Similarly, make sure everyone is on the same page – if there is a disconnect between IT and the business, what’s built may not serve what’s needed. And make sure your HR, training and communications teams are looped in, informed and armed with the right information and tools to encourage and support adoption.

Lack of communication on how the workforce will be re-purposed post automation implementation can lead to internal unrest and possible attrition. There will need to be training and change control in place, and that takes planning and management. Finally, from the onset and throughout there needs to be a team tasked with ensuring responsible automation is in place. This needs to be owned by the C-Suite and at every turn communicated to employees, so it is part of the DNA of the transformation: consider the ethical and legal implications when data is handled, and tasks are automated. Know who is accountable and responsible for outcomes and ensure those teams own that responsibility.

The process of adopting intelligent automation isn’t easy but it’s also unavoidable. Adoption of processes and procedures to handle complex data is essential in this day and age – the companies that fail to build a platform that is adaptable to change are at risk of being left behind; those that do adopt new solutions are not only poised to succeed – they are the industry leaders of the future.

About the author

Kim BrownriggKim Brownrigg is a senior principal at Accenture and leads the Regulatory Domain in Europe. Her responsibilities include interlinking Consulting, Technology and Operations services to optimise client value and defining next generation service offerings. Kim is currently leading Accenture’s Regulatory digital transformation programme; helping clients define their digital strategy and roadmap within Regulatory, designing applied intelligence solutions and prototypes and delivering pilots and scaled implementation to transform and streamline the industry.

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Pharma improves HCP engagement during COVID-19 – report

Pharma companies have improved how they engage with healthcare providers as a result of COVID-19, according to a new survey of HCPs.

This has resulted in pharma companies being more relevant and providing more value in closing the care gap, the report says.

The Accenture survey of 720 general practitioners, oncologists, cardiologists and immunologists globally found that this is in turn helping HCPs better serve patients.

For example, most HCPs said pharma companies are increasingly providing education on how to better treat patients remotely and help them manage their conditions in light of COVID-19. Nearly one in five HCPs (19%) said they expected that asking patients to self-administer more may be a permanent change after the pandemic, and the survey notes that 36% of patients have asked to have treatment remotely during COVID-19.

Companies are also helping patients understand where they can access labs, infusion centres or imaging centres, and are offering solutions to HCPs and their practices so they can more easily afford and keep stock of therapies.

HCPs in the US said that information on affordability programmes that pharmaceutical companies offer has been particularly helpful.

“57% of HCPs said they felt reps are failing to understand the true impact of COVID-19 on them, and 58% said they have been spammed by a pharma company”

The survey, which was conducted in May and June across China, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US, indicates that many patients and HCPs believe these changes are here to stay.

“Pharma companies are smart to be offering these new services but there’s more they can do to support HCPs and patients who want more self-directed and virtual interactions,” said Brad Michel, Accenture North America life sciences lead.

“Consider how 65% of all HCPs we surveyed said they value self-administration methods for patients, such as auto-injectors or on-body devices, more than they did pre-pandemic. And 62% said they value tools for remote monitoring of their patients at home more now than they did prior to COVID-19.

“This feedback, in combination with patients saying that they want to go into HCP offices less frequently even after the pandemic ends, suggests an increasing opportunity for pharma companies to be even more relevant to HCPs and patients’ changing needs.”

Luckily there does seem to be a growing trend towards pharma companies diversifying their communication beyond product information, while HCPs are finding more value in additional support services – 82% of HCPs in the survey said they have seen pharma companies change what they communicate about, to include support that meets their most pressing needs.

The impact on launch

Before COVID-19, 64% of meetings with pharma sales reps were held in person. During the pandemic, this shifted to 65% of meetings held virtually. Many of the HCPs reported that they expect restrictions in access to healthcare facilities will continue for some time – perhaps even permanently – and 97% of HCPs want either all virtual or a mix of virtual and in-person meetings even after the pandemic ends.

Indeed, 43% of HCPs said they are currently restricting who can enter the office for professional reasons (i.e. no pharmaceutical reps). Twenty-eight percent of those with restrictions said they believe it is something they may implement permanently and another 44% said they would keep the restrictions “for the foreseeable future”.

But HCPs also said they still want to learn about new treatments and interact with pharma sales reps – they just want to do so in different ways.

Eighty-eight percent of the HCPs surveyed said they want to hear about new treatments despite being amidst the pandemic. Four in ten HCPs said the likelihood of starting a patient on a new treatment has increased, as they have a greater ability to monitor patient response, more access to information on new treatments and more time to learn about them.

In fact, 61% said they are interacting with pharma sales reps more during COVID-19 than they did before. But they want pharma sales reps to have a better understanding of their needs and the needs of their patients. For example, 57% said they felt reps are failing to understand the true impact of COVID-19 on HCPs (with 51% saying pharma was failing to understand the impact on patients), and 58% said they have been spammed by a pharmaceutical company – receiving high volumes of digital content that misses the mark.

“We are at a critical juncture because HCPs want to communicate with pharma sales reps and learn about new treatments, but they need more value-added interactions and outreach that show a greater understanding of their situation and that of their patients,” said Ray Pressburger, Accenture’s global life sciences marketing, sales and access lead.

“To add value pharma companies should consider how they can capitalise on sales reps’ unique customer insights and re-channel their time once spent onsite and on the road into designing more personalised, and newly relevant HCP engagement strategies.”

The full report can be accessed here.

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Virtual Behavioral Health Could Reduce Costs, Improve Patient Outcomes, Report Finds

What You Should Know:

– A new Accenture report called “Breakthrough Behavioral
Health Access: Think Virtual” finds that the use of virtual behavioral health could
expand care for more than 53 million Americans facing these conditions.

– Demand for behavioral health specialists significantly outweighs current availability; in addition to severe wait times of 25 days for first clinical appointments, we are projected to have a shortage of 250,000 behavioral health and mental health professionals by 2025.

– Just a 1% increase in treatment for these disorders would save $2.4 billion annually and could yield as much as $2.4 billion in medical cost savings annually.


The use of virtual delivery channels could expand treatment
to 53 million Americans suffering from behavioral health issues, according
to a new report from Accenture. The
report, “Breakthrough Behavioral Health Access: Think Virtual,” is
based on a survey of more than 3,400 people in the U.S. diagnosed with or
having symptoms related to specific behavioral health conditions such as
anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, attention deficit disorder
or reported themselves as having addiction or substance abuse issues.

Access to Behavioral Healthcare Barriers

Access to behavioral healthcare is especially challenging.
Beyond the burden on individuals, the challenges of accessing and delivering
behavioral health services have a ripple effect across healthcare. Payers,
providers, employers, government and life sciences companies are all impacted
differently.

“The behavioral health crisis in the U.S. isn’t new, but the pandemic is clearly exacerbating it,” said Rich Birhanzel, a senior managing director at Accenture who leads the company’s Health practice globally. “The rapid expansion of virtual care models during lockdown in the current pandemic created new expectations for effective and reliable healthcare at a distance. While our research found that only 38% of respondents hadn’t been widely using a virtual channel for such treatment in the prior three years, they’re now overwhelmingly willing to do so.”

Virtual Health Can Shatters Barriers

Virtual Behavioral Health Could Reduce Costs, Improve Patient Outcomes, Report Finds

Current data indicates that nearly 58 million adults and
8 million youth between the ages of six and 17 in the U.S. have mental
health and/or substance use disorders, yet only 43% of affected adults are receiving
treatment for them. Four in five respondents (81%) of the Accenture survey said
they would either definitely or probably engage in a virtual channel to manage
their behavioral health condition. Applying this finding to the 66 million
adults and youths impacted by these disorders suggests that virtual channels
could expand care to approximately 53 million people. Furthermore, the number
of people with such conditions is likely to rise due to the current environment
of COVID-19, record unemployment, and widespread social unrest.
 
Among the channels respondents said they’d be willing to use include on-demand
videos (cited by 55%), webchat (63%), individual therapy via voice (59%) and
individual therapy via voice plus video (56%).

The research shows younger patients are much more likely
than older ones to engage in virtual behavioral health services. The report
notes that this is critical insight for employers as they develop their
workforce and talent strategies, particularly since millennials comprise the
largest percentage of the U.S. labor force, followed by Gen Zers.

In addition to improving people’s lives, better access to
care and treatment is a potential breakthrough in terms of overall outcomes and
medical spending as behavioral health patients typically have co-occurring
medical conditions and as a result, can have two to three times the amount of
associated health expenditures. Related Accenture analysis shows that even a 1%
increase in treatment for behavioral health disorders in the U.S. could yield
as much as $2.4 billion in medical cost savings annually, due largely to the
fact that individuals with behavioral health conditions often have other
medical conditions.

From Tipping Point to Transformation

The report notes three fundamental factors that healthcare
providers should consider to remain relevant and responsive to consumers’
needs:

· Control the personal cost. Four in 10 respondents
(44%) said they would only use such channels if the services are provided at
low or no cost to them. Public and private organizations sponsoring these
solutions will need to think through how to lower costs to
consumers—particularly those in need. 

· Orbit around experience. Beyond cost, consumers want convenience and positive user experience. While consumers are hungry for behavioral health services through virtual channels, the design of the programs and consumers’ experiences will make or break adoption no matter the demand.

· Make all the connections. Coordination and integration of care with a whole-person approach is critical. Services should be offered in the context of individuals’ physical health, and data-sharing and interoperability among different healthcare stakeholders are critical to providing the most effective care.

Report Background/Methodology

For the Accenture 2020 Behavioral Health Consumer Survey,
Accenture surveyed 3,448 US consumers ages 13 and over to better understand
attitudes and behaviors related to virtual health options for treating mental
health conditions and substance abuse issues. All survey respondents were
either diagnosed with and/or had symptoms related to specific mental health
conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADD/ADHD, or reported themselves
as having addiction issues. Survey respondents received anonymity and
represented a cross-section of the population based on age, location,
ethnicity, insurance coverage, gender and income. The survey was conducted by
Dynata in May and June 2020.

Clinical decision support tools will help oncologists manage complexity

Making treatment decisions is a tough choice for oncologists: a therapy might save or significantly extend one patient’s life but not deliver the desired outcome for another patient. Reaching this decision involves weighing a variety of data – from clinical trials to the patient’s medical background – and with the advent of more personalised oncology, the sheer volume of data that needs to be considered is growing exponentially.

When we speak to oncologists, the most consistent feedback we hear is that the complexity of information is increasing and we need support to access it faster, more efficiently and in a more targeted manner.

Consider how precision oncology will fundamentally change the way cancer patients are treated. First, instead of looking at the organ of the cancer’s origin only, doctors are going to pay more attention to the patient’s genomic characteristics and the medical history when deciding on the most effective cancer therapy. With next-generation sequencing technologies now broadly available, it is easier than ever before to understand the genomic variants of a cancer. We expect many new therapies based on the molecular profile of a tumour to come to the market in the next three to five years; for some indications it could be two or three times as many therapies compared to today.

All the ‘new’ data that is becoming available is driving therapeutic decisions in oncology.

• Read the full article in pharmaphorum’s Deep Dive digital magazine

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COVID-19 Has Permanently Shifted Patient Behavior Towards Virtual Care

Report: How COVID-19 Has Permanently Changed Patient Behavior Towards Virtual Care

What You Should Know:

– The COVID-19 crisis has significantly impacted the
patient care paradigm, and the ripple effects have altered patient behaviors
and expectations, requiring a significant change in how life sciences companies
engage with and support patients

– Accenture surveyed 2700 patients about changes in care
during COVID-19 and found a major shift to virtual care, which patients
embraced.

– Virtual care is here to stay and can be an integral
part of the patient experience with health care providers and as part of
clinical trials.

– With 70% of patients deferring or canceling treatment, virtual tools were widely adopted as an essential lifeline for continuing care.


The COVID-19 pandemic has permanently shifted patient behavior towards virtual care, according to a new survey from Accenture. The Accenture COVID-19 Patient Survey conducted in May across China, France, Germany, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S. asked 2,700 oncology, cardiology, or immunology patients globally how patient care has changed during COVID-19. The survey revealed patients have embraced virtual care and communications at very high rates as a result of COVID-19 and nine out of 10 reported the quality of care was as good or better than before.

Patients Chose to Defer and Change their Care

As restrictions came into effect, patients faced difficult choices about whether and how to continue their treatments. Many healthcare providers canceled appointments, and transportation options were shut down. Patients were afraid to risk exposure to COVID-19 by going to their healthcare providers for regular treatment, and many (70%) deferred or canceled at least some elements of their treatment.
 
But nearly half of all surveyed patients also started getting some treatment at home instead of going to their healthcare provider’s office and they began using virtual tools such as video conference calls, online chat, and apps. 1 out of 5 patients switched to a different therapy due to COVID-19, while nearly half considered making a change. Patients were concerned about how treatment might affect their risk of COVID-19, and about the method and timing required for specific treatments.

Sixty-three percent of those who used video conferencing
said it was very good or excellent, an impressive response given 70% were using
video conferencing for treatment for the first time. By using technology to
support communication and care, healthcare providers were largely able to
maintain or even improve on the patient experience.

Other key findings of the survey include:

Trust in the Healthcare Ecosystem Increased

 Forty-seven percent of respondents said they received better, more personalized responses; 41% said quicker responses and 40% said it was more convenient to access through new communications channels.
 
In addition, the overall trust in the healthcare system has increased. Sixty percent of patients surveyed said their trust in healthcare providers has increased, and 45% said their trust in pharmaceutical and medical device companies has increased.

Virtual care helped keep some clinical trials going

Worryingly, many clinical trials were disrupted by COVID-19.
Seventy-seven percent of patients said their clinical trials were suspended or
delayed, which could have a knock-on effect on the speed in which new
treatments come to market.
 
However, for trials that continued, the use of virtual care was critical for
consultations, treatment, and monitoring. Consider that 61% of patients whose
trials continued used some form of virtual communication or care.

Using virtual technologies as a regular part of the clinical trial process would not only improve resilience to disruptions but would help to improve the patient experience.
 
Patients said they want to be consulted more, but they are currently far from the center of the clinical trial design process. As decisions were being made on how to modify clinical trials due to COVID-19, only 14% of surveyed patients were asked about what changes would work for them. This held true across all therapeutic areas and geographies.
 
“Increasing virtual communication and treatment options offers multiple benefits for clinical trials, as one-third of all patients in trials reported that even before COVID-19, they had difficulty making appointments or physically getting to clinics for treatment,” said Michel. “Patients want more video conferencing and fewer clinic visits, which would make clinical trials more convenient and accessible.”

For more information, the full report is available for
download here.