What is value? In simple terms, value is any service that is interesting and appealing to patients.

But, we live in a time in which value has to impact more than just patients. In today’s healthcare industry, population-level outcomes are and will continue to be the currency to define success. When pharma considers value-added services, they need to determine which strategies will prove valuable not only to individual patients, but also to payers and providers. These services need to be more than just a shiny new app or a fitness tracker to dangle in front of patients. Sure, these are great at first, but are these tactics really adding value that leads to better health outcomes? The answer is no.

Effect of the One-way Push

Pharma has made a genuine attempt to evolve their tactics to include value that is more focused on patients. However, many of these tactics continue to be a one-way push of a product or information and tips about a condition.

Don’t get me wrong. Information and knowledge are important. But, information and knowledge alone are not enough to change behaviors that lead to better health outcomes.

The true definition of value goes beyond what patients find interesting and appealing. Value should be about obtaining better health outcomes and delivering them in a way that is engaging to patients. And to do that, you have to go beyond pushing product or condition information and help patients build the real-world skills they need to manage their condition every day.

To determine what demonstrates real value for patients with type 2 diabetes, MicroMass conducted a research study of two websites about healthy eating. Website One (information-based approach) offered instructions about how to balance carbs. Website two (skill-building, gamified approach) allowed participants to practice building a healthy, balanced plate and then receive feedback on their answers.

Overall, 71% of participants thought that Website Two would instill more confidence to help them make better decisions. In addition, many participants indicated that the skill-building and gamified approach was different and more personalized. “After living with [type 2] diabetes for several years, I get quickly bored with vague, general knowledge and information,” said one participant. “I am looking for actionable, specific information, and advice.”

What’s Next for Pharma?

Pharma needs to go beyond delivering information that’s part of the latest fitness craze or app. This approach is not going to move the needle when it comes to adding value to patients—or payers and providers for that matter.

Patients may like these tactics. They may even engage with these tactics for a short time.

But there are two questions to consider. Will these tactics drive lasting changes in behavior and improve outcomes? Why does pharma keep investing in the same approaches that are proving to be less effective?

Decades of research show that behavior change is not just about information. Pharma needs to incorporate evidence-based behavioral approaches and reinforce the importance of information and skill building.

And that’s a value that patients can appreciate.

  • Jessica Brueggeman

    Jessica Brueggeman is SVP, Health Behavior Group at MicroMass Communications, Inc. Jessica leads a team of behaviorists in applying behavior change strategies to health communication programs. Recently, her role expanded to include development of new products and services for health systems and ACOs.

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