Here’s How Bayer and Other Pharma Companies are Putting Patient Centricity at the Heart of their Supply Chains
You might think keeping the patient at the centre of consideration would be a no brainer for pharma companies, but in the swirling tumult of regulation, economics, logistics, and management, this noble ideal can sometimes fade into the background.
Research by the Aurora Project – a non-profit organisation with a mission to promote and action patient centricity – gathered data from 1,282 patients, health care providers, biopharmaceutical and medical device company employees, as well as opinions from pharma senior managers and psychologists. And, while 91% of respondents stated patient-focused missions were important, only 36% of patients said they trusted the pharma industry.
This data adds to the evidence that, within pharma supply chains, there’s a need for more focus on the patient centred approach, and companies need to find ways of addressing this trust gap.
One way in which the pharma industry is attempting to bridge this gap is by offering more complete, outcome focused solutions. These digital therapeutics are already helping patients around the world manage, and in some cases, even reverse their illnesses.
“We already have a number of patients who are managing their own health, but interestingly most patients lack true health literacy and control over their own health,” said Bayer’s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Sebastian Guth. “What we can do is ensure that the information available to patients is clear, reliable, and provided at a time that allows the individual to make an informed decision, because patients are not waiting. Patients are pushing us harder, demanding a new relationship, not only physicians but with the industry too.”
For example, diabetes sufferers must constantly measure their blood glucose levels by pricking their finger and taking a blood sample. This is clearly both inconvenient and painful for the patient, so pharma companies are working on ways to deliver the necessary data in a more convenient and less intrusive fashion. One idea is to use Apple’s wearable technology which is capable of detecting blood glucose without the need for invasive procedures. The technology may be a way off right now, but a solution such as this would significantly reduce the day to day burden on patients.
Other methods of treating diabetes digitally are through online portals such as Virtua Health. This non-profit organisation assists diabetes sufferers with trying to reverse their condition, rather than simply managing it. The portal gives patients access, from any connected device, to dedicated physicians and health coaches who can give them advice on everything from diet to exercise.
In a peer reviewed study, it was found Virtua Health was able to reverse type 2 diabetes in half of its clinical trial participants, eliminating or reducing insulin dependency in 87% of patients in just 10 weeks.
Innovations such as this show that patient centricity is about more than a comforting hand on the shoulder, something pharma companies are not often able to offer in a literal fashion. Instead it provides a way for companies such a Bayer to offer patients a more complete treatment service, outside of traditional pharma-HCP-patient supply chains which should serve to improve trust in the industry.
Apple is not alone in making roads into the healthcare arena. Amazon has teamed up with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to develop technology which is designed to simplify healthcare while increasing transparency and quality – all at a reasonable price point. With modern technology it is possible to get EKG data via smartphones, yet patients are still being forced to attend inconvenient appointments to use bulky and expensive machines.
“Digital solutions are essential to driving innovation in an evolving healthcare environment,” said Member of the Board of Management and Head of the Pharmaceuticals Division at Bayer AG, Dieter Weinand. “Bayer is seeking to apply them across the pharmaceutical value chain in order to detect diseases at an earlier stage, to develop medicines faster, and to deliver individual treatments with a meaningful outcome for patients. In this endeavour, we benefit immensely from collaborations and the exchange of knowledge and skills with innovative startups.”
If pharma companies are willing to collaborate with these contemporary tech giants, it could have fantastic implications for improving patient centricity and trust, as well as treatment schedule adherence and clinical outcomes.
Patient centricity is set to be a hot topic at LogiPharma 2020, in April, at the Nice Acropolis, France. Please download the agenda today for more information and insights.