A Patient’s Nerve Center: Nothing About Me Without Me

In Accenture’s new report, “The Patient is IN,” www.accenture.com/us-en/patient-services-survey-pharma.aspx 85 percent of pharmaceutical companies surveyed plan to raise their investment in patient centric services in the next 18 months. When I think of patient-centric, I think of making life less painful for the patient – having a car pick you up for chemo so you don’t have to drive, or a free place for your kids to stay when you’re getting a transplant. “Centric” means in or at the nerve center. Things that truly matter to patients.

But, the patient centric-services mentioned in the Accenture report include “patient segmentation,” “engagement insight development” “disease education” “adherence program management.” Many of these are services to pull through drug marketing rather than improve the customer experience. They are company-centric services rather than salves for the frayed nerve centers inside each and every patient.

If Starbucks charged us a lot of money for coffee that didn’t taste very good, sometimes made us feel worse and required us to drink it three times a day just because it was purportedly good for us, we’d stop going to Starbucks. Companies need to understand that the moment a person is diagnosed as a patient they become a potentially dissatisfied customer. Their own bodies have failed them in some way and dissatisfaction can grow if the system fails them too. Red tape, mixed messages, doctors who have no time, insurance papers — all pile up on top of illness to make treating illness a sickening experience.

Patient services should be focused on easing the toughness for each individual patient. Getting logistics right, answering questions thoughtfully, explaining tough concepts simply and with empathy.

Here’s one “engagement insight” we have for patient services people: Ask the patients what those nerve centers are, commit to addressing them, and engage patients in developing solutions. Then, maybe, the patient-centric journey jargon will disappear and be replaced by something much more meaningful.

Authored by Ann Moravick, President, Rx4good