Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, has released a survey of 2,000 patients in the U.S. taking long-term, short-term or lifestyle medications, which found that the vast majority (76%) believe pharmaceutical companies should provide services that complement the products they provide.
The survey, Why Pharma Companies Can’t Ignore Patient Services, also uncovered significant gaps in the services that patients want and those that they currently are receiving. Those that do receive patient services—from participation in rewards programs to receipt of product information and financial assistance—value them greatly and are eager to use them. Yet the survey also indicates that for many customers these programs are not available.
While 63% of the patients surveyed say they want to participate in customer rewards programs, only 10% say they have been offered the opportunity to do so. According to the survey, other services that patients most expect or want but are not receiving are:
“The vast majority of patients surveyed don’t just want patient services—they expect them and are looking to pharmaceutical companies to be part of the solution. While many patient services are underserved, those who receive services are very satisfied with them,” said Shawn Roman, managing director in Accenture’s life sciences industry group.
Roman said, “This indicates there is tremendous opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to become more engaged with the patients they treat and truly understand how to help deliver a better patient outcome. Our survey findings show that this process can start early, with three out of four (74%) saying that outreach by pharmaceutical companies to patients should be initiated as soon as patients start taking a medication.”
Patients polled across all three groups indicated the most important services are product information 73%, financial assistance 64%, reward programs 60%, physician referrals 55% and nurse support via phone 45%.
“Services provided to patients are still in their infancy in the industry,” said Roman. “There is a plethora of unmet patient needs surrounding medication that can be fulfilled by the life sciences companies—pharmaceuticals, consumer health and medical device manufacturers, in combination with the providers and the patients. We believe that these parties converging and collaborating to provide services to better meet patient needs is a fundamental tenet of the future of healthcare.”
A comparison of the top-five services that pharmaceutical companies provide and the satisfaction levels among survey participants taking long-term, short-term or lifestyle medications are product information at 80% satisfaction; measurement tracking and alerts at 79% satisfaction; adherence support at 77% satisfaction; physician referrals at 76% satisfaction; adherence support at 77% satisfaction; and rewards programs at 73% satisfaction.
Roman said, “Patients are exerting more influence than ever on their treatment decisions. And while medicines and therapies are essential for delivering an improved health outcome, patients also are clear about their desire for complementary services to help them better manage their health and individual outcomes.”
The survey also shows that nearly 64% of patients taking long-term, short-term or lifestyle medications would be willing to provide information on their health to pharmaceutical companies if that would enable them to receive free information or services. When it comes to receiving information, survey participants indicated that their communications preferences from pharmaceutical companies are email 69%, printed materials 66%, web site 48%, mobile apps 44%, social media 38% and live support 35%.
“Consumer-facing industries provide a wide range of information through digital channels, so it is natural that patients’ preference is switching to digital methods of communication, particularly if it is available at the moment of need,” said Roman. “Pharmaceutical companies need to understand what patients truly value in services for their particular health need and how to best deliver them in a cost-effective, meaningful way. This opens up the opportunity to deliver a range of new outcome-based programs for patients through greater collaboration with the broader healthcare system including payers, providers, physicians and government.”