By: Amanda Price
Digital healthcare development continues to be critical across efforts to create more streamlined and cost-effective drug-development processes. In 2014, digital health investments totaled about $6.5 billion, more than doubling since the year prior. Improved technology presents enormous potential, but also comes with shifting roles of healthcare stakeholders, including pharma companies.
The rise of technology has paved the way for better-informed consumers. Technology gives patients access to large quantities of information quickly and offers convenient ways to track personal health. No longer do patients rely on physicians to provide information and make decisions; rather, access to information has created more patients who are willing and able to actively participate in treatment decisions affecting their care. Dan Goldsmith, Chief Strategy Officer of Veeva Systems, believes that “[Patients] will be actively designing the therapeutic and treatment approaches for themselves with their physicians.” Pharma companies have an opportunity to educate patients about their care, shifting their focus from physicians to patients, as patients will ultimately be the key decision maker in this new digital age. This new patient-centric strategy allows pharma companies to understand the patient’s day to day lives and reimagine ways to improve them.
Opportunity for Pharma Innovation
As patients take on a larger decision-making role when it comes to treatment, they look for information to help them make informed choices. Pharmaceutical companies can provide much-needed patient tools that can help educate consumers, support behavior change, and encourage treatment adherence. Moreover, these tools can reduce the need for physicians to deliver routine information that can be standardized and accessed by patients outside of office visits.
Pharmaceutical companies have already increased their efforts to engage patients via digital innovation; in fact, the number of apps developed by pharmaceutical companies has increased significantly over the last five years. Examples include Novartis’ VaxTrax app, which allows parents to keep track of vaccinations, GlaxoSmithKline’s Cancer Trials app, which helps patients locate clinical trials in their area, and Johnson & Johnson’s Crohn’s Diary tool, which helps patients target what foods are causing them problems.
Each of these tools were developed by pharma companies that know the industry and patient behaviors. To create effective solutions in the healthcare space, digital tools should aim to focus on real needs with a measurable impact on health quality and cost. With the rise in digital therapeutics, pharmaceutical companies have started changing their business models to be more innovative and strategic, yet their mission remains the same: maintaining and improving the health and safety of their patients.