Improving Patient Experience Goes Beyond the Relationship

Marc Helberg Headshot
Office Managing Vice President, Philadelphia Office

Improving patient experience in healthcare is a complicated matter, as a patient’s experience is the sum of all interactions across the entire system. Think about your last trip to a clinic. Chances are, you had a lot of interactions and the ones you responded to most positively were those that met your personal needs. But your needs are much different from those of the patient next to you — and there’s the rub. From communication to service to access to care, a patient’s preferences and needs will vary.

Still, it’s vital to overcome patient experience challenges. Novant Health Physician Network may have arrived at a solution with its patient-first mentality, focusing on the patient experience in healthcare not just within the hospital but outside its four walls. Patients can schedule appointments online and even opt for virtual or video visits. With more than 900,000 patients now using Novant’s online tools, the move has definitely paid off. People want choice and flexibility, after all, and that’s what this health system is giving them.

Giving patients active choices can affect more than 60% of healthcare spending. It also puts people in control of their own healthcare, which can be empowering for the individual and can improve the overall patient experience in healthcare.

Pharma Patient Experience Challenge

Of course, patient experience in the pharmaceutical industry is a different story, largely because few pharma companies have direct interactions with patients. The question, then, is how to put the patient first.

For the most part, transparency can go a long way. Rarely do patients hear about what getting a medication through the development process is like — nor do they hear about the percentage of drugs that fail to make it to pharmacy shelves. It costs about $2.6 billion to produce a new drug, according the Tufts University Center for the Study of Drug Development. Why not distribute the related shareable information to the public?

Providing this information is just the first step to better connect with patients. It often requires a multitiered approach for a pharmaceutical company to become more patient-friendly. The following are just a few options:

1. Recruit change agents.

Improving patient experience in healthcare, particularly within pharma companies, will sometimes requires an outside perspective. But don’t stray too far from the industry. Consider working with physicians, hospitals, and pharmacies to find strategies to become more patient-friendly.

Pew Research Center found that 74% of people view physicians positively, while roughly half trust their physicians to provide them with accurate information. You want to partner with someone who understands your customer base, and that’s a medical professional in direct contact with patients.

2. Improve your messaging.

Most pharmaceutical companies have some type of community outreach initiative, yet the messaging behind it often falls short — with little more than a page devoted to it on a website. Even when pharma brands supply flu vaccinations, credit is given to pharmacies administering the “free” shots.

If you’re not sure how to take advantage of opportunities like these, hire a marketing team to create informational content. Patients can then learn directly from you, helping to dispel misinformation and build trust with your brand — all the while enhancing patient experience in healthcare.

3. Work with patient advocates.

Even though many people distrust the pharmaceutical industry, patients still want pharma companies to engage in their healthcare. According to a 2019 Accenture study, 67% of patients would like drug companies to offer more medication-related engagement services, specifically as it relates to their medical conditions. Few patients believe such services exist.

Working with a patient advocacy group might help. Patient advocates engage patients with information about their care and treatment. An increasing number of drug companies now use these groups to better understand disease management and patient support.

Patients want to trust the companies making their medications. Involving other medical professionals and improving your overall messaging are steps in the right direction for enhancing patient experience in healthcare.

Marc Helberg Headshot

About the Author

Marc Helberg Office Managing Vice President, Philadelphia Office

Marc is an energetic people developer and problem solver, focused on ensuring that the right size solution is brought to enable overall strategic progress.  He has expertise in large program and project management across complex and large organizations.  Marc is the Office Managing Vice President for our Philadelphia office. 

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