The integration of roles in the health system should theoretically result in better coordination of care and outcomes for patients. However, each entity is at a varying level of sophistication regarding executing on that promise—so there is no guarantee that the outcome is better for the patient. With patients shouldering a significant portion of the financial cost of medications, we cannot allow system integration to overlook its primary function—serving patients.
Providing patients with the tools and information to manage this complex system is paramount. It is simply overwhelming to be a patient trying to navigate all of these decisions and steps. One idea would be for pharma to provide healthcare navigators to patients to help them make decisions that take into account not just efficacy and outcomes, but also the overwhelming price considerations that are now in play. A patient with a chronic condition is going to weigh his or her options differently with regard to efficacy vs. price—probably weighing the latter more—than a patient with an acute, life-threatening condition who is likely to weigh the former more.
Providing the Tools Patients Need
We are early in our true understanding of how patients feel, react, and respond to having this new greater role in price and access. As advertising and marketing teams, we have spent oodles of time understanding how diseases make people feel and how brands can help, but now we must step back and reassess a lot of our understanding and insights to allow for this growing responsibility. Research, patient journeys, messages, and brands need to be recalibrated to allow for this new variable so patients and caretakers can make informed decisions for themselves and their families. New tools and communication workflows that provide seamless, actionable information need to be developed across therapeutic areas and brands to empower patients to navigate these additional stresses now being placed upon them.
Access to easily understandable evidence offering clinical and economic considerations should be one of those tools. Effective calculators providing cost projections are now available to help patients select benefit plans—expanding on these concepts should be an achievable goal. It is about ensuring that pharma provides all the possible information needed so patients can make a decision based on both health and financial burden.