Driving Digital Health With Patient Value at the Helm

Updated on February 7, 2023
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The last two years saw a significant leap toward patient-centricity in the healthcare space. In 2023, that trend will inevitably continue—focusing on providing value to the patient.

With more people finding convenience in the apps on their phones – whether grabbing a coffee or a car to the airport there’s an increased expectation of a better customer experience from the brands we interact with. From a more personalized experience to mental health and community support or simple ease of access, 2023 will see an increase in advanced and useful experiences across the digital healthcare landscape.

Digital health will need to prove its business case. 

If 2022 was about patient-centricity, this year, pharma companies will need to provide data-driven evidence that digital solutions meet patient needs while aligning with business targets.  

Quick-win tactics, like adding a few pieces of content or one new feature are not leading to enough value for the customer or the business. Leading pharma and healthcare companies are adopting a product mindset which involves focusing on continuously delivering measurable value. In order to do this there must be real-world evidence obtained from market research and user testing to support the business case and to help design programmes and solutions that are value-focused and data-driven.  

This renewed emphasis on proving the business case is part of a cultural shift in pharma away from a large volume of tactical projects towards a focus on quality. In 2023, it’s not enough just to pursue the coolest tech idea; the emphasis is on performance. Pharma companies are already investing heavily in data infrastructure and processes needed to drive value propositions. Going forward, they need to harness the insights from this data and put the right plans and budget in place to create effective digital-first programs that deliver for patients and the business.

Personalization programs will finally start to get personal.

From AI/machine learning to sensors/wearables and 5G, a wide range of tools can now deliver a personalized healthcare ecosystem. Who hasn’t seen their neighbor with their Apple watch or asked to join a FitBit challenge with your colleagues? With data and a product mindset leading the way, 2023 will see robust personalization programs that offer end users relevant content and resources in a frictionless way. Omada Health, which provides ongoing, personalized care for people with chronic conditions, is a good example. The average Omada member interacts with the platform 30 times a week.

Personalized video, chatbots and hyper-targeted ads can drive the shift towards digital-first, personalized, patient-centric healthcare. Meanwhile, data visualization can help healthcare providers extract actionable insights from the mass of information pushed their way.

For companies new to this area, the key is to have realistic starting goals – then evolve based on successful outcomes. The grander vision, however, is to create a sophisticated personalization model that can allow for preventative care – alleviating pressure on the healthcare system. 

Better patient-focused experience through interoperability. 

Building on value to the patient, 2023 strategies are centered around the “omnichannel” experience as a solution to the current siloed situation and to improve interoperability. The health system is incredibly fragmented and the industry knows it. Talk to a friend or colleague and you’ll find an anecdotal story of trying to find an in-network doctor or understand a medical bill. These calls take up time and often end up in a complicated tangle of transfers to other departments or even calling an entirely different company. 

Health insurance companies like Oscar Health have successfully implemented new personalization programs that empower their customers to make important decisions about their health without spending time searching through the whole, broken health system. Co-founder and CEO, Mario Schlosser said “Because we control our tech stack from end-to-end, we’re able to build tools that allow us to respond to consumer pain points and provide a less complicated experience.” Almost half of their customers have engaged with the program, driving a 20% increase in overall member engagement. By connecting members to the information they need most, while delivering that information within the same platform, Oscar and many others are now seeing increased engagement and an ability to help their customers complete their necessary tasks to manage their health.  

Mental health matters

With the rise of remote health offerings and a clear gap in mental health support, most Pharma companies will begin to provide some degree of mental health information and resources to help their patients. If the answer isn’t easily accessible patients will look elsewhere, increasingly seeking out answers on Google and most recently TikTok. With many chronic illnesses or lifestyle-health changes comes the need for both mental health and community support. 

We’re already seeing pushback on digital health products lacking a fulsome experience. Popular digital health products like Noom are quickly learning that member success relies on more than surface-level healthy eating guidance. Noom is a digital health solution that offers weight loss coaching and former employees recognized that they were underprepared for customers’ mental health needs that were blocking them from achieving their healthy eating goals. In one example, a customer represented suicidal thoughts, saying he had feelings of “wanting to step off the ride”. Although this is not a common conversation, many users expressed emotional challenges that Noom coaches were not prepared to support. 

Meanwhile, digital solutions like Sleepio are designed to understand that a condition like insomnia can often require an alternative path other than medication or surface-level guidance. Taking a cognitive behavioral approach, they support customers based on their unique lifestyles, thoughts, and schedule. As a result, Sleepio’s clinical trials have shown that 76% of patients have achieved clinical improvement in insomnia. 

Whether it’s providing increased personalization, improving interoperability or more support for mental health, 2023 will see the healthcare industry provide more value for the patient. These trends have shown what customer demands are and how pharma is now stepping up with a clear business rationale to meet our needs.  

Steve Peretz

Steve Peretz is the Healthcare Practice Lead, Digital Products for Appnovation. He brings 15 years of digital strategy experience working with brands spanning the pharma, CPG and healthcare industries.At Appovation, he leads the healthcare digital strategy practice, including research and validation for personalized digital support programs, working with clients like Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim and Health Net.Taking a patient-centred approach, Steve partners with clients to create meaningful engagement that leads to positive outcomes for patients, caregivers and brands - while navigating the complexities of the highly regulated healthcare industry.Before joining Appnovation, Steve co-founded the first holistic health management platform for patients and caregivers affected by heart failure.