A New Kind of Patient

Most of the time when the industry talks about today’s patient, the focus is on how they are better informed and more empowered to make their own healthcare decisions. While that remains true, the pandemic helped create a new subset of patients, one that is in urgent need of the industry’s attention: the people who deprioritized their health checkups, screenings, medication pickups, surgeries, and more due to COVID—and have yet to address what they put off.

Dagmara Scalise of Merkle lays out all of the shocking figures, including 52% of people skipped care even though they said they needed it during the initial months of the pandemic. Average weekly screenings dropped 94% for breast and cervical cancer and 86% for colon cancer—and rates still haven’t returned to pre-pandemic levels. Additionally, 62% of patients with chronic conditions before COVID were responsible for 80% of the drop in new prescriptions. These delays in care can have a devastating impact on patient health. But Scalise says the industry can help, if it changes how they think about patients—and by implementing five kinds of strategies that can encourage patients to get timely care.

Another imperative for the industry to address this growing concern is implementing a patient-first approach—in more than just words. As Keri McDonough of Syneos Health says in our Focus On Patient Experience section, “Despite earnest efforts and meaningful progress, the ‘patient-first’ concept still feels aspirational. Messaging about ‘patient centricity’ remains pervasive and opaque. To me, ‘patient centricity’ evokes an old-school market research lab where patients were asked to choose between options that often had little to do with what mattered most to them, while we watched behind two-way mirrors.”

But McDonough and other experts within our Focus On section provide tips on how to change that and what is necessary to build organizations that are actually centered around patients. That includes our Think Tank on “Embedding the Patient Point of View in Everything You Do,” which provides strategies on the best ways to implement direct patient feedback throughout every process within your company from drug development to commercialization. This can no longer just be lip service. Patients need our help, but they can also be a great resource into how to best deliver it. Don’t forget that.

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