Health Information Technology (HIT) is fast becoming a key component of our new healthcare system as hospitals, payers, doctors, patients, the government and the rest of the players in healthcare all work to implement new platforms and technology to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare. HIT includes everything from EMRs/EHRs to e-prescribing, Clinical Decision Support (CDS) programs, Health Information Exchange (HIE) and more.
Of course, new platforms also represent new opportunities for pharma and medical device marketers to reach their audiences. PM360 asked marketers and HIT experts:
- How can life science companies use the opportunities now available through HIT platforms to reach and help healthcare providers and/or patients?
- What kind of HIT solutions can life science companies provide to help HCPs deliver better care as they adjust to the new outcomes-based healthcare system?
- Working in the HIT space often brings up concerns in regard to violating patient privacy, data security and/or remaining compliant with HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules. How do you ensure that your solutions are both safe and compliant?
- In what ways can marketing and IT departments work together to create more personalized or data-driven campaigns based on the information they glean from their HIT programs?
Life science companies can best use health information technologies by employing these tools to facilitate the relationship between patient and provider. That can take many forms, but patient education is at the top of the list.
For example, EHRs can allow the HCP to provide reliable, accurate and relevant information about a diagnosis or drug immediately after writing a prescription, which can enhance the information available to the patient and help them understand their need for therapy and how to properly take the medication. And because their EHR can create this information automatically, the likelihood of it being reliably delivered may be much greater than with assets such as tear-off sheets or preprinted materials. This can greatly improve “first fill” rates, and start the patient down a path toward better long-term adherence.
Clinical Decision Support (CDS) is also a tool that is becoming increasingly common and one that is frequently used by our clients. CDS programs are directed toward the HCP, so they can be a very useful way to call attention to a particular item during the course of a busy office visit, which is always a challenge for life science companies. By appropriately integrating useful info into the HCP’s workflow, sponsored CDS programs can deliver important information that also makes business sense for the sponsor.
Finally, our clients find that delivering patient savings offers via an EHR or ePrescribing system makes great sense for the HCP, the patient and the sponsor because there is no need to worry about whether a physical card is available in the office, or whether the HCP or their staff will remember it. EHRs are a great way to “automate” the added value that life science companies seek to offer.
Pharma and life sciences companies are anxious to understand how they can appropriately engage in EHR and HIT ecosystems. Many of these companies are striving to bring additional value to customers that “go beyond the pill” by creating wrap-around services that could be integrated into HIT systems to improve outcomes and the quality of patient care.
With the urgency to identify new ways to engage with customers, two organizational challenges typically emerge. First, companies frequently approach strategies and initiatives in functional silos (i.e., clinical or commercial) that can create duplication of effort and minimize organizational learning. Second, teams often jump to creating solutions, whether it be disease management interventions or application of the latest technology such as an app for disease tracking or medication adherence. These solutions, though well intended, often miss the mark because the important step of using a data-driven approach to understand the journey of the patient or the gap the HCP has in managing the patient, has been minimized.
Instead, consider a more structured innovation approach using the following steps:
1. Coordinate all HIT initiatives across commercial and R&D functions under an enterprise governance to focus efforts and stimulate organizational learnings.
2. Mine patient treatment patterns with de-identified longitudinal data to more fully diagnose gaps and specific opportunities to improve patient care and outcomes.
3. Understand provider treatment workflows and areas where gaps and efficiencies could be gained.
4. Focus on all stakeholder experiences of any solution, integrating insights from current world realities of patients and providers, not just what makes sense to your brand.
In many industries, marketing and IT departments have traditionally been divided in their efforts—marketing at the front with customer interactions and IT in the back office finding operational efficiencies and better workflow.
We are in the midst of a digital transformation, aiming to upend that traditional model. Cloud computing, on demand mobile access, instant feedback with social and the supporting information analytics are changing the moments of interaction. Pharma must adapt to evolving technology to improve the patient journey.
Patients are becoming more empowered through digital media and new technologies, and therefore, manufacturers will be expected to deliver more value beyond the prescription to help improve overall health outcomes.
Pharma companies will seek service providers who can deliver digital solutions for specific patient interactions, such as benefit verification, prior authorization and patient assistance programs, which will engage the patient and ultimately reduce prescription abandonment.
The connected patient will require digital tools through each step of the patient journey in order to make good decisions to start and maintain therapy. It will be marketing’s job to explain the nuances of a technical service or application in order for patients to fully grasp the mechanics of the product.
New, personalized customer and patient interactions will be driven by technology. It’s not a matter of asking the question, “In what ways can marketing and IT departments work together?” as much as it is “What companies realize and embrace this transformation, and integrate the marketing and IT departments?” Hybrid skills speaking both business and technology will be required to lead. Furthermore, with life sciences trailing as an industry in this digital transformation, there is a tremendous amount of upside for marketing and IT to drive a personalized patient experience.
The opportunity EHR systems offer is in their access to healthcare providers and their ability to deliver relevant information within workflow at the point of prescribing. Manufactures put large budgets towards creating patient educational pieces, adherence programs and other support materials that often never reach their true destination—the patient. Tools in these systems can deliver critical prescribing information and valuable support materials to providers and their patients at the moment a medication is prescribed. Manufacturers looking to take advantage of this opportunity need to do three things:
1. Understand the Value: Similar to the way we use Outlook, the EHR is at the center of the provider’s day—the primary vehicle for recording patient information and communicating with colleagues. To earn a spot in this critical place within the provider’s workflow, messages need to add value without distracting, creating a barrier or taking the provider somewhere outside of their task at hand.
2. Optimize the Content: There is value in programs that already exist, but that content must be optimized for the EHR. Should the physician discuss it with the patient? Can it be sent directly to the patient (through the patient portal)? Answering such questions will help determine where and how that information can be communicated through the EHR to effectively reach the provider or patient.
3. Reach the Provider: To maximize the opportunity, an EHR strategy should communicate to the broadest group of providers possible. Working with a single partner will limit your reach, while incorporating multiple vendors into your strategy will extend that reach. Also, solutions that leverage a network of EHR/ePrescribing partners will deliver an even larger reach for your message (and greater ROI for your EHR strategy).
The healthcare industry is changing dramatically as reducing cost while improving patient outcomes is now becoming the priority for care providers. To meet the needs of patients, providers must coordinate efficiently and effectively across the entire continuum of care, regardless of setting or payment models. HIT is responding (albeit slowly) to these needs; silos of information are increasingly being replaced by systems that are capable of tracking and coordinating a patient’s care across providers and point-of-care outlets.
As hospitals and care providers begin to think differently about how they operate, so too must life science companies. Selling drugs is not enough—life science companies need to keep people out of the hospital. To do this, they must connect into the core HIT systems of care delivery, be in the moments of care and innovate in ways that actually move the needle on outcomes downstream, across large integrated delivery network populations.
Huge opportunities exist for companies that are willing to embrace this new world. The way to get in the door is to provide needed effectiveness information (not brand marketing messages) within the workflow. It’s critical that companies learn how to communicate the right information, to the right doctors, at the right time.
Pharma should be investing in programs that can illustrate real-time economic benefits of their drugs to certain groups of patients. As they begin to measure true outcomes “in the wild” they will begin to discover real-life findings and new services around these drugs. Product development will become population health program development—bundles of drugs and services with proven down-stream benefits. Rethinking what information is delivered with the drug, and how it is delivered, will be critical for life science companies operating in this new era.
A digital revolution is changing the healthcare landscape; I’d like to focus on how it impacts patients. Through their lens, HIT is about access—to info and to people—by all stakeholders. New health technologies such as Big Data analytics enable access to new data that can fundamentally change healthcare. One example is aggregating the wisdom and experience of all patients over the web, leading to:
Safer Healthcare: The Internet Knows First
Often, the earliest references to problems—such as adverse events, or drug interactions—appear in patients’ online conversations. Using technology to interpret these initial signals, quality information becomes available earlier, driving a potential quantum leap forward in drug safety. This is the future of drug safety and pharmacovigilance.
Better Healthcare: What Works, What Doesn’t
Each patient has a unique journey, often discussed with their peers on social media. Crucial insights can be decoded from these discussions such as unreported patient habits, satisfaction, switching behavior, unmet needs or educational gaps. These areas can be addressed by pharma and HCPs with better programs and products that will improve healthcare, leading to better outcomes.
Affordable Healthcare: Transparency in a Consumer-driven Market
Healthcare is increasingly becoming consumerized, and cost plays a dominant role in patient treatment decisions. HIT analysis of online patient conversations helps both providers and patients better understand patients’ financial capabilities and alternatives, which can impact treatment selection. Understanding this meeting point between patient needs, payer refunds and funding policies can help make healthcare more affordable.
With 72% of adults going online for health information, these potential areas of impact are significant.
HIT platforms are a chicken-or-egg conundrum. On one hand, the promise of HIT has yet to be realized. Until physicians take full advantage of the suite of features available through EHRs, for instance, the opportunities for life science companies to benefit are limited. On the other hand, life science companies have something that HIT companies need: Product and patient education content. To entice more user adoption—a critical component to EHR success—there is an unmet need for rich and meaningful content that biotech manufacturers already have, and an understanding of patient beliefs and behaviors that are not historically in the purview of HIT companies. This leaves life science companies with a choice: Wait until HIT platforms have reached the tipping point, or help push them over it.
Improving Content Delivery
Until the middle of last century, most medical consultations occurred in the patient’s home. Healthcare came to the patients, not the other way around. It’s a concept we need to revive.
Life science companies have become so good at producing quality content that patients are literally buried in an information avalanche and never really have the chance to process it. We’re not thinking about how the content architecture supports patients. As Jonathan Perelman of BuzzFeed said, content is king, but distribution is queen—and she wears the pants.
We need to design patient support systems differently. Instead of building libraries of content that patients need to visit, we should deliver content when and where it is most relevant to the patient. By mirroring the medical decision-making model, we can offer completely personalized experiences that follow the treatment algorithm doctors use at every step of the treatment flow.
Marketing and IT departments can easily align when they recognize the converging line between art and science. By strategically approaching their marketing strategy, IT can identify potential channels, which marketing can then build around. Consider the following tactics.
1. Enhance inbound tactics such as personalized digital advertising. On average, digital ads only reach 33% of their intended target. But with digital tools you can define your target audience. You can serve personalized ads—created specifically for that segment—based on an individual’s Digital Body Language, the online equivalent of facial expressions revealed around the negotiating table. It is comprised of website visits, downloads, searches and email responses. In many ways, it provides the most accurate picture of interest and intent.
2. Exercise page tagging on your Library of KOL Content and Patient Testimonials. Page tagging offers the ability to understand segmented analytics and also trigger behavior based on activity against tagged pages. Scoring and entry into nurture or sample campaigns can also occur with this activity. Consider tagging activity against specific offerings or content from the same KOL and then, based on engagement with a specific asset, deliver personalized communications from a designated sales rep or that KOL.
3. Incorporate a broader subscription center offer into your form strategy. Capture info about delivery and device preferences. Understand content and medical interests. Allow contacts to opt-in to future event notifications. Use this data to provide a more personalized and dynamic content-rich newsletter or to optimize the sample and trial process. Capture and score engagement against specific content and identify potential opportunity.
4. Ensure you capture and analyze an individual’s Digital Body Language across all channels. Develop universal profiles to understand things like cost of recruitment efforts, cost of acquiring new prescribers, cost and effort to convert prescribers from one decile level to the next and effectiveness of your communication outreach across regions.