Five ways digital health can benefit pharma

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Five ways digital health can benefit pharma

The COVID-19 pandemic created a shift toward patients using online health tools to manage their health. With more than 75% of patients indicating they will continue to use these new tools to manage their health, it creates an opportunity for the pharma industry to embrace digital health tools to engage with patients. Traditionally reliant on face-to-face communication and selling, pharma organizations are now adopting a digital strategy to maintain awareness of its products and services, as well as clear communication with physicians and patients.  While the shift toward digital hasn’t been swift for pharma leaders, there are some natural benefits of moving further into the digital age: 

1. Direct patient connection. Digital technologies have the potential to transform the way clinical trials are conducted. Digital health tools enable direct connection to engage in online support groups for clinical trial recruitment of patients. By bringing these conversations into a digital health platform, stakeholders can take advantage of information gleaned from discussions, supplementing data collection, to help address issues or provide support early in clinical trials.

2. Connectivity with providers. Physicians have traditionally interacted with pharmaceutical companies via office visits. But recent regulations now greatly restrict the degree to which these encounters occur today. Digital health platforms and advanced technologies create new channels through which providers can interact with pharma companies. Digital health tools and communication channels are streamlined through the use of agents who can represent multiple drugs for different companies. These digital encounters can take place via patented technology, which transforms the engagement around a provider’s preferences and schedule.

3. Design by data. When a new drug is released, the information available usually consists of early studies and prescribing data. Once a drug is released into the market, any additional info comes from voluntary reporting from prescribers or patients. But digital health tools are able to track patient use and capture data to determine patient outcomes (including patient safety metrics). Technology today is capable of skimming de-identified data points in real time to easily share data with stakeholders through a secure, web-based application. Pharma companies can now evaluate in real-time how a new drug is perceived, monitor issues with dosing and adherence, and provide critical support and guidance toward positive outcomes. 

4. Medication adherence platforms. It’s estimated that medication non-adherence in the U.S. results in $105 billion each year being spent on avoidable healthcare. According to a recent report on medication adherence by Deloitte, 54 percent of consumers who take prescription drugs stated that they’d be interested in using digital tools and mobile technologies to provide alerts and reminders to take their medications. New digital health platforms such as Medisafe offer a companion to prescription medication that enable users to track adherence, engage in support tools directly from the manufacturer, and receive timely intervention for missed doses. The use of digital drug companions is gaining traction due to ease of use, cost, comfort with digital tools in general, physician recommendations and demographic differences.

5. Enhance digital presence. One of the biggest concerns that pharma marketers have is ensuring that online advertising does not breach regulations because if it does, the penalties are high. Online advertising within the pharma space has often been wrongly perceived as being tricky. But engaging with patients via digital health platforms offers a new way to connect with core audiences, with more segments to modify toward more refined targets. In digital settings, pharma can share tailored, condition-specific messaging to help drive awareness, reinforce its position among providers, and highlight its latest achievements in medications.  

The digital age is now, with everything within reach via smartphone and digital platform. Patients have already made the shift to digital health, with healthcare systems quickly following suit. The time is ripe for global pharma leaders to invest in digital technology and deliver support and engagement into patients’ daily lives. Now is the time to incorporate technology that advances beyond traditional communication channels to support new formats where patients are already gathering and can present a wealth of opportunity for the future.