Hospitals must increase patient awareness of treatment services

May 18, 2015

As managed care and hospital organizations increasingly take on the risk for managing patient populations, it is critical to improve patient engagement and awareness of patient care opportunities beyond the acute care setting, according to the results of a new survey.

As managed care and hospital organizations increasingly take on the risk for managing patient populations, it is critical to improve patient engagement and awareness of patient care opportunities beyond the acute care setting, according to the results of a new survey.

Results from Patient Services: Pharma’s Best Kept Secret by Accenture, showed that when patients are aware of therapeutic services, nearly 6 out of 10 of those surveyed use them (58%), and nearly 8 in 10 (79%) perceive the services as extremely or very valuable. Yet, less than 1 in 5 patients (19%) are aware these programs even exist.

“This shows that there is clear opportunity for healthcare companies to increase their value to patients by increasing awareness, and ultimately use of patient services-and to start doing so much earlier in the patient journey,” says Tony Romito, managing director Accenture, Life Sciences.

Related:Patient engagement: The core of effective population health management

“Most healthcare companies have services focused on post-treatment but by offering pre-treatment services, they can become the ‘go-to’ resource from the start of the patient journey,” he says. “Patients still have significant unmet needs-particularly in the pre-treatment interval. By filling gaps in services at this stage, healthcare companies have an opportunity to achieve first-mover advantage in a specific therapeutic area.”

The survey also showed that patient awareness is low across all therapeutic areas, ranging from 18% for bones, lung and heart conditions, to 21% for cancer and immune diseases.

Patients also value services across all disease states, according to the survey; 79% of respondents said that the services they used were “‘very” or “extremely” valuable. This high level of satisfaction is seen across all disease states.

 

NEXT: What patients want

 

What patients want

Patients want more help and guidance before they begin treatment for a disease, with their greatest frustration being lack of notification of being “at risk” for a condition, according to the survey. Nearly two-thirds of the survey respondents (65%) said that pre-treatment is the most frustrating period of the patient journey, while 34% of patients surveyed cited frustration with the lack of knowledge that they might be at risk of a condition before they experience symptoms. This percentage rose to 44% of patients surveyed with immune diseases.

“As managing patient populations, it is critical to improve patient engagement and support patient care beyond the acute care setting,” says Romito. “To be successful in achieving this, healthcare companies must optimize patient care through effective patient services. These study results show that while patients consuming services perceive a great deal of value, and are thus engaged in the treatment of their condition, far too few are simply aware of what’s available and how to use these services.  This presents a tremendous opportunity to optimize the investments healthcare companies have made in patient services, and improve the partnership across payer, provider and pharma to better support population health management.”

Related:Gaining maximum advantage from your patient portal

Patients want their healthcare professionals to be the primary source of information on services they need to manage their health, but digital channels play a key role as well, according to the survey. Eighty-seven percent of patients stated they wanted a single point of contact to provide a service to help them manage their condition; 85% of those would like that to be their healthcare professionals. In-person visits with doctors are the top means from which patients gain information (67%), but digital channels are a close second, mentioned by 57% of respondents.

Benefits of patient support programs

The range of benefits for patient support programs include earlier identification of patients at risk for acute medical events, faster delivery of appropriate treatment, and greater compliance with prescribed treatment plans, to name a few, according to Romito.

“Formulary managers can help in several ways,” he says. “Firstly, in dialog with their pharma partners, be sure to incorporate the patient services topic into the discussion about the value of the product to the patient. This is particularly important as pharma is increasingly producing research to demonstrate the differentiated patient outcomes that are associated with the use of their unique patient services with their products.

“Secondly, as new products are added to a formulary, formulary managers can ensure that communications to the physician community include information not only about the drug efficacy and safety, but also about the associated services that are available to help patients-eg, affordability, education, communities, etc."