“Transforming Patient Services: Virtual High-Touch Support to Engage, Motivate and Drive Patient Adherence”

Featured Speakers:

  • Doug Stover, Vice President, Global Head of Innovation, Alexion Pharmaceuticals
  • James Doucette, Director Customer Programs and Collaborations, AstraZeneca
  • Lyndi Hirsch, Chief Marketing Officer, AdhereTech
  • David Weingard, Founder & CEO, Cecelia Health


Late October, a panel featuring pharma thought leaders met during Fierce Pharma’s Digital Innovation Week to discuss the implications of COVID-19 and its causative impact on the acceleration of digital health adoption in the United States. The panelists, representing both pharmaceutical manufacturers and solution providers, drew on their extensive experience to offer rich insights on the future of digital health in pharma.

Key Insights for Pharma:

Implications of COVID-19 on Patient Access and Experience

1.) During the COVID-19 pandemic, 70% of individuals consciously abstained from needed medical care due to the social, economic, and health risk implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

2.) Patient healthcare information seeking behavior has intensified during the pandemic despite evidence to suggest that anything non-COVID related has become secondary. Patients are more interested than ever to take ownership over their healthcare.

3.) Digital Health has become a necessity to support individuals along their patient journey. The far reaching impact of the pandemic on the traditional means of care delivery (especially for people with chronic illness) has necessitated the need to engage with healthcare in new ways.

Best-Practices to Incorporate in Pharma Patient Support Programs

1.) Consumers hold “liquid expectations” for the type of digital experience that they expect business to deliver. The technology industry has set a high standard for digital technologies by creating a seamless experience in areas like e-commerce, search, and music. It follows, that it’s critical for pharma to deliver a high-quality digital experience if they hope to successfully engage consumers into their digital health offerings.

2.) Pharmaceutical patient support programs should be designed with the targeted patient population front and center. Pharma leaders should consider characteristics such as disease state, geography, demographics, and patient experience level with technology if they want to create an experience that is successfully meets the diverse needs of individuals.

3.) Support programs should strive to incorporate rich, two-way dialogues between clinicians and participants. When possible, clinicians should use available data to engage with participants in real-time to help people correct the course with any challenges that they may be experiencing.

Challenges in Delivering Effective Pharma Patient Support Programs

1.) Information sharing between pharma, patients, and providers continues to be a real challenge. The difficulties related to information sharing often inhibit care coordination and reduce opportunities to improve outcomes.

2.) Pharma too often struggles to source rich the behavioral insights that would allow them to deliver a similarly rich patient experience. Typically, program design is based on insights collected prior to launch when the reality is that insights should be sourced dynamically to deliver a dynamic program experience.

3.) Opaque and changing regulations often create challenges for pharma. It’s clear that some companies have discovered how to respond to regulations appropriately, while others are still developing a better understanding around the “dos” and “do nots” related to their response.

Pharma Needs to Invest in Digital Health in a Post-COVID World

1.) Pharma must seek to better understand the patient journey in this new digital world. Companies should seek to understand consumers who increasingly finds themselves confined to their homes and are forced to take make healthcare decisions at their kitchen table.

2.) Long term thinking, strong partnerships, and sustained investment is a key aspect of building out a digital health strategy in the future. Pharma companies that believe that they can go back to the “old way” of doing things will not be successful in the post-COVID world where digital health technologies and adoption will grow rapidly.

3.) All stakeholders in healthcare need to work together to improve connection to the healthcare environment. Well integrated programs that can seamlessly flow into the life of time-strapped consumer will be best positioned to improve patient outcomes and support pharma business objectives.