Patient-centric approach

Patient approach

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Personal, Predictive and Positive for Patient, Care-giver & Healthcare sector

Over the past two decades the healthcare industry in India has been growing at a commendable pace, currently it is valued as a USD 158 billion industry and is expected to cross USD 280 billion by 2020. This sector has witnessed an approximate of USD 5.25 billion FDI’s coming in for the hospitals and diagnostic sector which also includes signing of around 23 deals worth USD 679 million, together with new initiatives taken by the Indian government, like Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Mission, Mission Indradhanush. Besides, the medical tourism in India is a growing sector and is estimated to achieve a 20 – 25% growth rate, whereas the hospital industry is expected to reach INR 8.6 trillion by 2022 from the present base of INR 4 trillion at a CAGR of 16-17%. Indian Pharmaceuticals Market (IPM) is the third largest in terms of volume and thirteen largest in terms of value. IPM is registering a growth of nearly 12 to 15 %, the growth of the chronic therapy segment is over 25%.

While the healthcare market continues to grow at such tremendous pace fuelled by population increase, lifestyle changes and disease profile shifts, the healthcare delivery models have been slow to keep pace with the changing patient attitude and expectations. As patient education and awareness increases and with technology playing a pivotal role in our lives, there is a paradigm shift in consumer expectation in any service they pay for, including healthcare. Consumers expect highly customized experiences. Food delivery apps remember to surface your favourite restaurants, e-commerce sites use social media channels to retarget and remind the customers of their wish lists. There is a radical shift in patient expectations of an ‘always-on’ approach to care, disrupting the dynamics of the patient-provider relationship. Today’s patients have more knowledge, choice and options to handle their own recovery. In turn, healthcare providers are needed to understand the non-linear, multi-stage patient journey via the different channels and touch points. In today’s digital age, where seamless, personalized experiences are the norm, healthcare is still catching up to the reality of patient-centricity and addressing the expectations of an informed patient who pays for his treatment and expects more value.

Ted Levitt in 1960 shared the term ‘Marketing Myopia’. His advice was to focus on customers, or more specifically, the Consumers. This bring us to a valid thought that who is the real customer, thedoctor or the patient? Classically, doctors have had a close relationship with the pharmaceutical industry. Kessler shares that today’s marketing practices have positively influenced the doctors however alienated the patients. The current marketing practices here have accustomed to the disadvantage of the patients. To keep pace with the changing marketing dynamics, a paradigm shift in marketing practices is the need of the hour and very distinctively it is towards patient-centred marketing.

While pharmaceutical companies are still predominantly doctor-focused to get prescriptions, and hospitals and other healthcare delivery stakeholders are still functioning in traditional algorithms, many healthcare companies have started to recognize this shift in the marketing dynamic and realize that the traditional pharma models short-term focus on deploying large numbers of reps to drive prescribing alone is no longer viable. They are starting to implement patient-centric marketing in a balanced manner along with the traditional models. Tapping the patient first can build trust, drive engagement, and make it easier for patients to help practitioners help them. In a survey by Pharma Marketing News, an impressive 86% of pharma executives either agreed that “a focus on patient-centricity is the best route to future growth & profitability”.

The future of healthcare sector is now based on three new“P”which is Personal, Predictive and Proactive. In this sense it is about positive wellbeing, less of caring or curing. However, in cases of illness, then care is about patients and personalisation, putting people at the centre of the medical process, supported by physicians, paramedics and healthcare organization which are right for individuals. The future is crystal clear, this will lead to convergence of sectors, enabled by an integration of technologies, the personalisation of science, and business models that have more human touch than commercial. The upcoming technologies like advanced recording systems, Internet of Medical Things (IOMT) and artificial intelligence coming into hospital industry, that will help this approach involving patients, care-givers, patient communities and support groups.

Defining Patient-centred marketing

Patient-centredmarketing / Patient centricity means putting the needs and preferences of the patients at the centre of marketing strategy.

The driving forces in healthcare decisions in Patient-centred care approach, are individual’s specific health needs and desired health outcomes. There is partnering approach in treating patients, this approach should be balanced between patient and care givers not only from a clinical perspective, but also from an emotional, mental, spiritual, social, and financial perspective. A separate department or hospital wing in handling global patients is a good example to quote.

Elements of Patient-centred Care

HealthCare is collaborative, coordinated, and accessible.The right care is provided at the right time and the right place. Broadly speaking, care focuses on physical comfort and importantly emotional well-being.Patientand family-centred care reassures the active collaboration and collective decision-making between patients, families, and providers to design and manage a customised and comprehensive care plan.In this model, Patient and Family preferences, Values, Cultural traditions, and Socioeconomic conditions are respected.

Cultural Shift to Patient-centred Care

As with other forms of value-based health care, patient-centred care requires a shift in the way healthcare provider practices and health systems are designed, managed, and reimbursed. In keeping with the doctrines of patient-centeredness, this shift neither happens in a vacuum nor it is driven by traditional hierarchies in which providers or clinicians are the lone authority. Everyone, from the parking valet and environmental services staff to c-suite members, is engaged in the process, which impacts hiring, training, leadership style, and organisational culture.

To that end, many providers are implementing patient satisfaction surveys, patient and family advisory councils, and focus groups, and using the resulting information to continuously improve the way healthcare facilities and healthcare provider practices are designed, managed, and maintained from both a physical and operational perspective.

Patient-centred care in the Family Doctor Clinics

Patients have trusted, personal relationships with their family doctors in patient-focused care models. This all-inclusive look at the needs of the whole patient requires providers to offer services or referral to services such as peer support programs, social workers, financial counsellors, mental and emotional health providers, transportation and daily living assistance, and in some communities, language and literacy education. Physician may also employ a variety of technology-based tools to help patients take ownership of their health care outside of the doctor’s office e.g. Healthcare portals for appointment, diagnostic facilities etc.

Patient-centred care in the hospital

Traditionally hospitals have a mindset of Patient care in silo. For them anyone other than Patient is a distraction, burden or nuisance. However, a patient-centred care at hospital encourages family collaboration through a home-like environment that not only meets the needs of the patient but also meets the needs of family members. e.g. maternity hospitals are being redesigned with family-friendly postpartum rooms, Family loungefor family members of long duration treatment.Visiting hours and visitor restrictions are a thing of the past in a patient-centred care model. Patients should be given the authority to identify who can visit and when. Family members are kept informed of their loved one’s progress through direct and timely updates. Newer set of corporate hospitals are engaging IT companies to enable themselves to serve Patients better.

Personalised medicine

The concept of patient-centred care extends to the treatments and therapies clinicians provide not as generalised therapies but customised.If care plans are customized, then medications as well. This has been witnessed in beauty & wellness sector. A patient’s details of genetics, metabolism, biomarkers, immune system, and other “signatures” can now be connected in many disease states — especially cancer& other life-threateningdiseases — to create personalized medications and therapies. There are various organizations who are developing companion diagnostics that help clinicians better predict the best drug for each patient.

Building Patient-centric brands

Whilst every healthcare company – from drug manufacturer to health insurer, pharmacy to hospital, GP to specialist -it is vividly different from most of what happens today, the industry has willinglyaccepted the idea of patient-centricity. At least to start with at corporate level.

While no hard metrics exist that can track success of such initiatives, annual patient-centricity ranking, and awards published by industry organizations nevertheless attempt to provide a degree of feedback to the industry. Pharma companies are aligning with Companies providing care at home.It is the approach that looks beyond disease, beyond product, beyond treatment. It is human-centric and integrated in its response.


From the prevailingsales & marketing practices, can Indian Pharma companies transit into patient-centric marketing? The traditional commercial model needs a paradigm shift to keep pace with changing patient profile. Currently pharmaceuticalrepresentatives are selling by discussing product efficacy to doctors, which is being challenged. Today, the doctors face knowledgeable, engaged and net savvy patients who can confront them and challenge their understanding. Indian Pharma companies must put right efforts in development of genuine partnerships between doctors and such knowledgeable patients. It should encouragesupport groups that prioritize healthy patient outcomes and eventually a satisfied patient. It is also crucial that doctors should remain pivotal to these activities and evolve a mutual win-win and trustworthy patient-centric model. As the popularity of patient- and family-centred health care increases, it is anticipated that patients will become more involved and satisfied with the delivery of their care, and evidence of its clinical efficacy should continue to mount.This could also be referred to as on-demand healthcare, a by-product of a healthcare revolution wherein patient can obtain the services they need, at the preferred time based on their affordability, feasibility and availability.

About the Author

Dr. Sunil Kumar is the CEO and Founder of Medihub. He is a celebrated oncologist practising in Lucknow. After completion of post-graduation from Sanjay Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences in 2009 he associated with various top-notch hospital at Varanasi and Lucknow. He is currently associated with Ajanta Hospital as senior consultant oncology. He has a decade of experience in the field on oncology.

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