Patient partnerships: putting relevance into relationships

There are perhaps two ways to look at 2020 – on the surface, it has been a year of pandemic health catastrophe, on a deeper level it has been a year where we finally acknowledged the fragility of health partnerships and the importance of good relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and the patients it serves.

‘New normal’ – on warp-speed
In the past decade, industry has been moving away from a transactional engagement model and towards one more based on collaboration and conversation. We arrived into 2020 with the vision and enthusiasm that a new decade offers to find that as a sector committed to a collective global health endeavour, we suddenly had to work much more openly and cohesively to problem-solve for people infected with coronavirus and to help to shield people with chronic conditions rendered even more vulnerable to the impact of reduced access to treatment and supportive care. That endeavour became essential; it became necessary to build partnerships that are not defined by the volume of the interactions but instead by the value that each interaction brings to all of the stakeholders.

Value over volume
At NexGen we have always focused on bridging new partnerships between patient groups and pharma experts. Our role is to facilitate common ground so that patients’ voices and needs are expressed to the right people within pharma and that the right people within pharma are equipped to ‘actively listen’ to those needs.


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3 practical steps for improving patient support

Research Partnership’s Emilie Braund and Harrison Gaiger dig down into the top insights pharma companies can harness to make their patient support programmes as powerful as possible.

The pandemic has undoubtedly disrupted the healthcare landscape and amplified the complex factors that influence and shape patient journeys. Findings from our recently published whitepaper ‘Free thinking: The impact of COVID-19 on chronic disease management and the implications for pharma marketing’ revealed that, in the spring of 2020, two thirds of physicians across Europe felt patient management was severely impacted as a result of COVID-19. Remarkably, global health systems have evolved quickly in an attempt to adapt to the crisis and great strides have been made to continue providing patients with the information and care they need. In our research, 89% of physicians across Europe reported replacing face-to-face consultations with virtual consultations during the first wave of the pandemic. However, in some additional research we conducted with healthcare professionals, over two thirds across both the US and EU feel patients are still in need of additional support to help manage their condition.

Patient support programmes (PSPs) can play an integral role in providing such assistance. Well-developed PSPs offer a number of opportunities to improve disease management, optimise treatment pathways and deliver better patient outcomes. Our research found the following patient needs being fulfilled by effective PSPs:

  • Adherence and compliance
  • General education on condition
  • Help with self-care
  • Advice for a healthy lifestyle
  • Advice on own treatment management
  • Psychological support

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Enabling new models of care: pursuing pharma’s partnership potential

There is a huge, ongoing shift in how health and wellness is approached in the UK, and the changes will have important implications for NHS-industry partnerships.

Transformative change is coming to the NHS and is set to radically alter how the UK’s health service cares for people at a population level.

The NHS Long Term Plan signposted this change, with its emphasis on preventative health, and the forthcoming expansion of the Integrated Care Systems programme continues this direction of travel on a path towards the long-cherished hope of joining up health and social care.

As new approaches to healthcare attainment take hold there will be some degree of uncertainty among pharmaceutical companies about where they fit into the new structures and the holistic care they seek to provide.

But they’re not the only stakeholders working to map out how to enable new models of care and what their role should be.


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‘No going back’ for clinical trials after COVID

Trial sites have adapted swiftly to the restrictions of COVID-19, and patients have seen many knock-on benefits as a result. The next step is ensuring the industry does not regress to old ways of working once the pandemic is over, say Karen McIntyre and Allyson Small.

COVID-19 has changed everything for clinical trials – but in most cases these are changes that were well overdue.

“For years and years, the industry has debated the practicalities and safety of decentralising clinical trials, using telemedicine, and where study activities should take place,” says Karen McIntyre, executive director, global lead Catalyst Program & site relationships at Syneos Health. “We were always having these discussions, but nothing moved forward.”

When the pandemic hit, regulators around the world rapidly updated their guidelines to reflect the realities of conducting trials amidst lockdowns and social distancing mandates.

“For example, drugs are now able to be delivered directly to patients to allow for a clinical trial visit to take place remotely,” says McIntyre.

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

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How patient insights are changing trial solutions

Patients have been asking for patient-centric trial solutions for years – the industry just hasn’t been listening. That’s according to Medidata’s Anthony Costello, who was bringing patient feedback into product design long before COVID-19. He tells us what insights pharma has been missing out on and how they can be harnessed to build better solutions.

COVID-19 might have forced the industry to leave behind its reticence around remote and decentralised trials, but according to Anthony Costello, senior vice president of mobile health at Medidata, this reticence wouldn’t have existed in the first place had the industry been genuinely listening to patients.

“Patients have not been saying anything new during COVID-19, but the difference is that the industry has woken up and started paying attention,” he says.

“Patients have long wanted more and better technology to use in studies so that they don’t have to visit sites so often, but the industry has been very reluctant to go in that direction.”

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

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True patient-focused research through decentralised and hybrid trials

How can pharma improve the patient-centricity of its trials during COVID-19 and beyond? Experts from across the sector give their thoughts on the key approaches and technologies that are driving patient engagement forward.

With COVID-19 presenting new barriers to running and recruiting for clinical trials, making studies patient-centric is more important now than ever before.

According to one analysis, conducted by Global Data, approximately 67% of trial disruptions during the early stages of the pandemic were due to the suspension of enrolment, followed by the delayed start of planned trials at 18.4% and slow enrolment at 14.4%.

Ensuring that trials are easy to access and don’t overly burden the patient is essential amidst these potential disruptions – but a truly patient-centric trial has benefits beyond enrolment.

Trials that are engaging and easy to partake in can lead to higher adherence, higher satisfaction, improved data quality and overall performance, and can even give participants a more positive view of the sponsor company in terms of their commitment to bring new treatments to patients.


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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.


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Finding agility in unprecedented times

Nicole Farmer, general manager, UK & Ireland at Sanofi Genzyme, tells us how the company aimed for agile adaptation during COVID-19, and how these lessons are driving patient centricity going forward.

2020 has been a watershed year for every company in the industry – and for Nicole Farmer, general manager for the UK & Ireland at Sanofi Genzyme, that meant moving into a pharma leadership role at a time when things couldn’t be more uncertain.

Nevertheless, Farmer – who was appointed in May at the height of COVID-19 – says that her main goals when coming into the company hadn’t changed due to the pandemic.

These goals were: creating an environment where people have the courage to be proactive and not wait to be told what to do; pushing beyond current limitations; and keeping customers and patients at the heart of why Sanofi does what it does.


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Patient journeys in the era of COVID-19

OPEN Health’s Richard Jones and Sumira Riaz assess the pandemic’s implications for understanding patients’ experiences and how the pharma industry can support them

It’s impossible not to view healthcare in 2020 through the lens of the current global pandemic and COVID-19 is certainly set to cast a long shadow over patient needs and engagement.

Even when the virus is tamed, and recent advances with vaccines are grounds for much optimism, the huge societal and healthcare changes that we’ve seen take place this year will undoubtedly have left their mark in all sorts of altered, and new, approaches.

The way in which patients make their way through the healthcare system has shifted enormously, bringing disruption to the patient experience. COVID-19 has driven massive uptake of different types of digital support and interventions, most notably with telehealth.

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

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How pharma needs to change for the era of digital health

Experts from Healthware Group explore how companies can rebuild their approach to digital from the ground up for the benefit of patients.

Digital is not just a nice-to-have for pharma companies – it’s a necessity for ensuring that patients have the best possible outcomes in modern healthcare systems.

With digital tools and techniques being able to improve almost every aspect of a pharma company’s business, from R&D to sales, there’s no excuse for not implementing digital transformation at every level – and that’s not even mentioning new opportunities for life science firms to produce digital products that can complement or even replace traditional medicines.

Roberto Ascione, founder and CEO of Healthware, says that this landscape means that companies like his need to expand to be “communicators, connectors and builders” all at once – and this is a philosophy he has built up within Healthware over the last two and a half decades.


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