The notion of patient-centricity has gained increasing attention from drug developers and others in recent years, mostly in the area of chronic diseases and those requiring complex therapies. But value-added services, which go beyond simple initiatives addressed to patient compliance and access to therapy, are also gaining increasing attention from a variety of other audiences, including advocacy groups, physicians and nurses, and payers. Moreover, the provision of such services has attracted increasing interest beyond pharmaceutical companies seeking to support their own marketing and sales — to data aggregators, diagnostic companies and health IT firms. These firms see a number of business opportunities for platforms and services that help patients take control over their own health and treatment or help payers better understand the value of particular therapies.
Over the course of several posts, we’ll be exploring the topic of value-added services from several perspectives, looking at:
- How the changing face of disease treatment in areas like oncology and inflammatory conditions are creating new needs for value-added programs;
- Benefits of value-added services in terms of different audiences;
- Differences between implementing such programs in the United States and European markets, where direct contact between patients and drug developers is prohibited; and
- New factors like personalized medicine and drug pricing issues that are also driving interest, increasingly from players outside the pharmaceutical industry.
Value-added services have long existed in areas like multiple sclerosis, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cholesterol management, where the diseases are chronic, the markets competitive, and patients commonly require help with drug access and compliance. In recent years, oncology has increasingly become a further area of focus as many indications come closer to being treated as a chronic disease and patients are becoming more engaged and involved in their own treatment. Other indications where value-added services are becoming important include those where treatments have become more complex such as dermatitis, psoriasis, and asthma. The advent of biologics as treatments for these conditions brings in questions of access, compliance, quality of life, and risk management — all which require more drug company support for patients, physicians and other caregivers, and payers.
Five years ago, it was relatively rare to have programs like these or support for patient advocacy in oncology. Now companies are much more likely to have conversations with patients and physicians about quality of life and compliance. Moreover, the aim of value-added services has gone beyond just getting patients drug access and helping them remain compliant.
Such programs are increasingly about keeping them on treatment long-term (or encouraging them to start or switch to a drug-maker’s own therapy) and understanding their needs based on their chronic illness. The latter includes information on specific drug regimens to coping with lifestyle requirements, including those imposed by work, school, and travel. Thus patient-centric programs enable drug developers to capture knowledge that can help with drug development, identifying those outcomes that are meaningful to patients and providing the means to gather precious knowledge about customers that can help refine a commercial segmentation down the road.
In our next post on this topic, we’ll discuss the benefits of value-added services to audiences beyond the patient and drug developers, to other important audiences including nurses, physicians, patient advocates, and payers.