What digital services do patients want from pharma?

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Two recent reports highlight the deficiencies in eHealth and the opportunities that exist for those companies providing digital services to patients. Increasingly there is an expectation that these types of digital services should be provided, and those that do will benefit not just in terms of adherence and patient care, but also in longer term brand and product loyalty.

Use of eHealth in EU

The first is an eHealth report realised by the European Commission which surveyed the use of digital in hospitals and GP surgeries around Europe. Whereas it found that certain aspects like digitised patient health records were commonly used, other aspects like online consultations and access to personal records remain very low (<10%).

The research was broken into several areas with Electronic Health Records being the most prevalent. Two areas that stand out are so called Tele-Health and Personal Health Records. Tele-Health includes patient monitoring at home, online consultations and online training. Aside from training, there was very little activity with only 4% of respondents saying they used it with any frequency.

In terms of Personal Health Records, around 25% of respondents reported that whereas their patients requested renewals or prescription and appointments online, the availability of these services was tiny in comparison, with under 3% facilitating patient access to their own records and only 13% facilitating renewals and appointments.

Why GPs haven’t embraced eHealth?

GPs cited reasons like lack of remuneration (79%), insufficient knowledge of IT (72%) and a lack of a regulatory framework on confidentiality for email doctor- patient communication (71%). Despite this 97% of GPs say that they use a computer during a consultation and the same number (97%) also state that their practice has Internet access.

Digital Services highly valued

The second report comes from Accenture who carried out a survey of 2,000 patients in the US. The findings show that patient services are highly valued and yet apparently underserved; it also finds that most patients preferred digital with 69% saying they want companies to email them, while 66% liked print materials.

The survey found that patients were most open to industry contact just when they were about to start taking a medication (74%) but 50% stated they would look for industry contact while on a medication; e.g. information on side-effects, adherence

Patients willing to collaborate with pharma to obtain digital services

The most important services stated were product information, financial assistance, rewards programs and doctor referrals. The survey report goes on to emphasise that the desire for these services and the willingness of patients to collaborate with companies to obtain them, means there are significant opportunities for pharma companies to look at ways to expand access to care and treatments and build new collaborations within the industry as a whole.


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