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Value Beyond the Pill: What Can it Look Like?

Intouch Team

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Can a company change from being an assembly-line manufacturer to being a thoughtful, collaborative caregiver? Can an entire industry? This is one of the biggest struggles facing the pharmaceutical industry.

Some manufacturing industries can get away with being simply that: a group of corporations competing in the business of creating and selling. The pharmaceutical industry was able to consider itself in those terms for generations. However, as market pressure grew, managed care became more decisive, and consumers became better educated, that's changed.

The lines have blurred between care provider and product seller and between branded manufacturer and generic manufacturer. Patients have immediate access to information previously only accessible to healthcare professionals (HCPs). Managed care and regulators have become far more stringent in reimbursing for drugs. Many historically implemented marketing tactics have become more highly scrutinized and disallowed.

Overall, while medical advances and the volume of data have reached dizzying heights, healthcare expenses have skyrocketed even further. The status quo is unsustainable and, in order to survive, pharma companies must evolve. Pfizer's Primary Care President Adele Gulfo has been quoted saying: “The days of just selling the pill are over. (source)

The pharma industry was built on the difference it can make to patient's lives. It's indeed time to move beyond the pill to see what more is possible.

"Value beyond the pill" is a phrase that has become shorthand for this need. A recent survey found nearly half of the industry agreeing that a strategic shift to focus efforts in that vein will prove profitable in only a few years (source).

But what will that look like? Who will make it happen? Here are three examples.

Beyond the pill: Adding services to the product line of offerings

People with diabetes need help managing their diet, exercise, even foot care. People with cancer need help figuring out how to get the normal requirements of life — child care, commuting, holiday preparation — along with a grueling schedule of treatments and consultations. Health conditions require a lot more than just medicine, in short.

Pharma has understood this, and public-relations programs for some brands have begun to offer services to help manage health. A true focus, though, could see meaningful changes in patient's lives: for instance, imagine a meal-delivery service owned by a diabetes company and subsidized by insurance, or a personal-assistance service offered by a hospital to improve patient-satisfaction rates and increase appointments.

Beyond the pill: Using data to personalize care

Manufacturing delays, prescribing habits, prescription abandonment, community behavior … these enormous data sets (“Big Data”) exist, but are not always given the proper tools for thorough analysis, or the appropriate connections that could create a meaningful narrative.

Pharma companies have the equipment and the know how to open up more lines of business as information providers, not just treatment providers. Even simply providing the umbrella under which academic, managed-care and sales data can gather will be an increasingly important service.

Beyond the pill: Providing liaison services for patients with professionals

Far too often, patients are confronted with a diagnosis about which they have no information. A general practitioner can, at best, provide a few slim leaflets and a referral to a local specialist. But how can a person diagnosed with a rare condition find the best possible care?

Connecting patients with physicians is an area in which the industry can really shine. For decades, pharma brands have worked with HCP Key Opinion Leaders, seeking them out for insight and endorsement. The industry knows how to find the leaders in every field; the moment is ripe for pharmas to harness this ability for patients. Consider the impact of a service that combined ranking systems, managed-care coverage information, and a location-based physician locator into a single database for patients to search.

The pharma industry was built on the difference it can make to patient's lives. It's indeed time to move beyond the pill to see what more is possible.

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