Pharma companies: The prime mover in supporting people to be healthier at home

George Botsakos

By George Botsakos

Pharma companies hold a central role in driving the evolution of healthcare, wielding the resources, knowledge, and technical skills needed to accelerate better patient outcomes and experiences. By becoming trusted partners to healthcare providers, pharma can achieve system-wide value – but, in ever-complex health environments, this is no routine operation.

Today’s healthcare market is under immense pressure to lower costs at the same time as improving clinical outcomes and patient experience. To meet demand and address complex care needs, health systems are exploring solutions that keep people healthier at home. Our recent research into the evolution of healthcare revealed huge optimism for these new solutions across pharma, medtech, and healthcare organizations alike. The opportunity is vast – according to our research, the market for solutions that move care from hospital to home will hit $390.4 billion by 2030.

For pharma companies, this shift has the potential to deliver positive benefits. Working closely with healthcare stakeholders, pharma companies can develop new products and services that drive healthcare evolution, relieve pressure, and create new opportunities for revenue and market share.

From product-focused to patient-focused

Reimagining the patient experience is far beyond the comfort zone of product-focused pharma businesses. Traditional commercial models and external reimbursement environments are designed for traditional solutions and services – not connected, patient-centric alternatives.

Our research found that healthcare leaders see pharma’s lack of understanding of healthcare systems as the biggest barrier to solutions that move hospital to home. Given the anticipated value opportunity, there’s a lot at stake. However, change is happening. Pharma companies are realizing the importance of new health solutions and are shifting their strategies to match. Globally, 76 percent of pharma and medtech leaders are prioritizing products and services that move care from hospital to home. Pharma and medtech leaders expect their focus on product and service solutions to more than triple in five years’ time. This massive swing in core business focus means transforming commercial models and growth strategies, and taking the right kind of risks to thrive in transition. It starts, of course, with the patient.

For pharma, the business case for shifting site of care is rooted in protecting market share and creating brand loyalty through better patient experiences. Pharma companies want to meet patient needs, but current business operating models don't easily allow for patient-centric approaches to be embedded in decision-making. As such, pharma has struggled to bring in the patient voice consistently, at the right level. To successfully create home-based solutions, pharma needs to get much closer to patients.

Integrate the patient voice to mitigate risk

Despite operating in a highly regulated environment, there are many learnings that pharma companies can lift from other industries where consumer focus is at the core of business success. Positively disrupting the patient experience means starting from the ideal outcome and working backwards, finding opportunities to personalize care, elevate consumer experience, and build brand loyalty. Considering the needs of diverse populations will be essential in the creation of appropriate technology, support, and financial considerations.

But moving to home-based solutions is a risky move for pharma. There is tremendous pressure to compensate for the significant R&D investment required, and this is complicated by uncertainty around reimbursement. Further complicating the picture is limited predictability concerning the percentage of patients that will use the solution, and use it in the right way, as well as the number of physicians that see the value for their practices and the potential improvements to quality of care. Additional considerations include the ability to sustain the at-home model over time, accountability for patient care in less controlled home environments, and inherent privacy and cyber security risks that come with connected delivery devices, sensors, and digital solutions.

To mitigate these risks, pharma can engage with patients in a transparent way, building trust and seeking to understand preferences and barriers to uptake. Pharma can play a more positive role by measuring patient journeys and outcomes. This might include assessing patient quality of life, time to treatment, and other patient-related metrics such as waiting lists. Quantifying the impact of inaction is equally as important, motivating upfront investment. There also needs to be clear consideration for how to compensate physicians outside of traditional visit models. There are mechanisms for this already, and alternative payment models will help longer-term. Finally, companies must evolve their organizations and capabilities to mitigate the regulatory, support, and technical risks that at-home solutions present.

Shed the siloes

To enable the shift from hospital to home, pharma companies need to identify and nurture the right tech, the right processes, and the right people. This includes bringing together R&D, manufacturing, and commercial teams, as well as enterprise functions like cyber security and data privacy. Collaboration will enable the development of highly effective solutions. Given the close proximity of these new solutions to patients, pharma companies also need to embed appropriate internal quality management processes, evidenced by medical devices quality certifications such as ISO 13485.

Externally, pharma companies have a responsibility to extend this commitment to collaboration across supply chains and partnerships. Stakeholder mapping can help to identify suitable partners to deliver solutions, from medtech to pharmacies to wholesalers. Systems thinking can support complex relationships, helping to understand the impact of each change on specific partners and strengthening relationships through awareness. Connecting the ecosystem is crucial. Pharma companies may have the ability to develop and deploy transformative solutions, but they need to understand the most appropriate applications and the associated value or challenges. This can only come from stakeholder collaboration.

In the midst of a complex – but ultimately positive – healthcare evolution, pharma companies hold the key to data-driven, technology-enabled, patient-centric solutions. They have the technical knowledge, industry expertise, and resources to create products and services that ecosystem stakeholders are ready and willing to implement. With the right financial and business models in place, these solutions will create brand-new value and opportunities.

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Healthier at home

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About the authors

George Botsakos
George Botsakos PA life sciences expert George is focused on helping clients define and deliver high performance and innovative strategies.

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