Two-thirds of patients have had some kind of negative healthcare experience with a medical provider, pharmacy, or hospital. Of those, 44% say these experiences led to additional consequences including being less likely to seek care in the future (34%), switching medical providers or treatments (34%), or not keeping up with their treatment (16%). Those figures come from Accenture’s 2021 report, Digital adoption in healthcare: Reaction or revolution?, in which they surveyed nearly 1,800 people in the United States about the changing healthcare experience.
What would make their experience better? In a word: empathy. Over half (52%) say they want a medical provider who listens and can provide emotional support. Pharma companies can also do better in the minds of patients. Only 16% believe pharma companies market their products in a trustworthy matter. To improve trust, patients would want pharma companies to reduce medication costs (41%) as well as offer more transparency regarding pricing (39%), the effectiveness and potential side effects of medications (34%), and the research and drug development process (34%).
Or to put more simply, as patient advocate Ella Balasa does, “Pharma companies must have the best interests of patients in mind throughout the treatment continuum…to consider the patient perspective in aspects of clinical trial design, marketing strategies, and simply understanding the ways in which the product they are developing will have an impact on patients’ lives and sympathizing with the burden/hardship that health conditions place on patients.”
This may sound simple, but it is not something the industry always excels at. As David Davidovic of pathForward explains in this article, even the patient journeys that companies develop are often just rejiggered versions of what used to be called the “buying process” or “decision flows,” which are from the perspective of the industry—not the patient. Instead, companies need to see things through the patient’s eyes and all of the beliefs, fears, attitudes, motivations, concerns, and other factors that have an impact on them.
The industry can do better, and this issue can help make that happen. That includes better addressing health equity and social determinants of health, exploring ways to drive new patients to seek treatment virtually, better engaging patients as people, and making the existence of patient support programs more well known. Our industry excels at developing life-saving therapies for patients. Let’s not let sour experiences turn people away from getting care. Let’s build a better healthcare experience for all.