Patient engagement solutions are key to clinician-patient interaction, improving compliance, enabling real-time reporting, and reducing visits to the doctor and hospital.
Patients today want and expect to have greater control over their healthcare journey. They are accustomed to accessing information from the Internet and to visiting their doctors armed with reports — some reliable, some not — about their conditions.
That journey is being further assisted with engagement solutions that have been made possible thanks to technology advances, including smart devices, Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), and therapeutic wearable devices. These solutions improve the connection between providers and patients, help clinicians to better support their patients, and enhance patients’ lives.
All this has led to growth in the patient solutions marketplace. According to a Market Research Engine report, the global patient engagement solutions market is expected to grow to $22.33 billion by 2026.
There are many benefits to patient engagement solutions. Not only do they encourage patients to be more proactive with self-care, but they also improve the patient-provider communication, which can improve quality of care without placing further pressure on scarce resources. It has also been claimed that patient engagement solutions can reduce the cost of care, lower hospital readmission rates, and improve the quality of care.
Since the pandemic, demand for patient engagement solutions and remote monitoring has escalated. During the height of the pandemic, the urgent and pervasive need for care led to a rapid increase in the development and adoption of new digital technologies, as well as new processes to facilitate their use across healthcare. Medical technology companies have played a leading role in helping to drive this innovation, address issues around patient care during the pandemic, and provide urgent support.
So, what types of solutions are now available, and how do they benefit the healthcare ecosystem as well as patients?
IoT and IoMT
According to a Deloitte report , the IoMT market is expected to be worth $151.1 billion in 2022 as medical technology companies increasingly look at ways to drive innovation. IoMT might best be described as medical technology devices that generate, collect, analyze, and transmit data, resulting in a connected healthcare ecosystem.
Today, IoMT devices are playing an integral role in transforming healthcare, helping to improve patient outcomes, reduce ever-increasing healthcare costs, improve efficiency, and empower patients. Examples of IoMT include remote patient monitoring for chronic disease, smart pills, and smartwatches. Remote patient monitoring empowers patients with resources to help them take ownership of their health while enabling HCPs to assess health datasets and assess that data to ensure patients get the care and support they need.
IoMT is not without challenges. Companies developing such devices must consider issues around interoperability to ensure all stakeholders can leverage data.
Cybersecurity is another huge issue to contend with, given the huge cost and risk of data breaches. Companies must show patients and healthcare professionals how any data from IoMT is being used to ensure trust in such solutions.
Today, wearables are ubiquitous with millions using connected devices such as smartwatches, exercise trackers, glucose monitors, or heart rate monitors. In fact, according to a Statista report, the number of devices globally is expected to exceed 22 billion by 2022. Such devices collect data that allow both the patient or consumer and, where relevant, their HCP to monitor health issues.
Another important use of wearables is during clinical trials, allowing researchers to assess patients in real time.
Many wearables are what is referred to as consumer-grade, rather than medical-grade, which means they don’t have to adhere to high regulatory standards.
Those that are medical grade are often more complex to use or have a less intuitive setup. Next-generation medical-grade wearables will need to be easier for consumers to access, acquire, and use. An example of such a device are hearables that allow wearers to augment and control the sound around them by adjusting real-world volume based on where the wearer is.
Another big difference between consumer-grade and medical-grade wearables is the integrity of data. Any medical-grade wearable would have to demonstrate quality control to the regulators to show functional claims can be supported and that efficacy claims can be trusted. As an example, the CONNEQT Band (CB) is an AI-powered, FDA-cleared, clinical-grade smart health band. Recently, CardieX entered into a collaboration with LifeQ to further support the CB, enabling it to be used both for clinical and lifestyle-related health metrics. The band will feature LifeQ’s PPG-based finger sensor technology as well as a second PPG sensor on the wrist for continuous monitoring of general health-related biometrics.
Medical Device Sensors
Imagine a world where a blood glucose or heart monitor is as seamless to use as opening a door. These capabilities are becoming reality with the development of durable, wireless, and rechargeable sensors. As an example, BioStamp nPoint makes it easy to collect physiological data and patient-reported outcomes for clinical trials. The sensors can be applied anywhere on the body for targeted data collection and are wireless and easily rechargeable. Among the physiological data it gathers are sleep parameters, posture, and time spent active, as well as vital signs.
Another innovative sensor is a connected toilet seat that collects cardiac data points. The toilet seat, developed by Heart Health Intelligence, can be used to check a patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, cardiac output, ECG, and blood oxygenation. The data can be sent to caregivers and HCPs as well as to patients with heart failure.
However, with both wearables and sensors, there are two factors that make it hard to include physical activity monitoring in routine clinical care. The first is the need for data standardization between different commercially available devices and sensor locations. The second is finding a way to integrate this data into the electronic health record and clinical workflow.
There have, however, been examples where this has been successfully achieved. The Ochsner Health System and Kaiser Permanente each designed a digital health program to manage health issues — hypertension in the case of Ochsner Health and diabetes with Kaiser Permanente. Both programs use commercially available at-home digital devices customized to integrate with the electronic health record. Other patient programs were incorporated in addition to the wearables to support patient care.
“A 90-day prospective assessment of the Ochsner digital hypertension management program revealed that 71% of patients treated with the digital health program achieved target blood pressure control, compared to 31% under usual care, according to Kaiser Permanente’s digital glucose monitoring program reduced time for contacting patients in the program via telephone visits by 50%, and therefore effectively doubled clinicians’ capacity to manage patients with diabetes," according to a Nature article.
Successfully designed and implemented, these new technologies can produce measurable benefits, which accrue to patients and the health system."
According to the Nature article, successful implementation of wearables in a clinical setting require: clearly defining the role of wearables to address a specific problem; incorporating wearables into an integrated system of delivery; establishing on-site technology assistance and processes, for example, assisting patients with selecting the connected wearable(s), initiation of the health application, and onboarding the application and devices; and including a human element in the care model.(PV)
Adheris Health, a MedAdvisor Company
Key Interaction Points
It’s essential for brands to ensure they’re including solutions that reach both patients and prescribers at key interaction points, such as reaching the physician at the point-of-prescribing to pass along information to the patient or engaging the patient with a text message right after they pick up their prescription. By delivering the content meaningfully versus having those audiences trying to seek it out. It creates a better brand experience.
The biggest trend we are tracking is patient empowerment. Patients are taking the wheel on their health and wellness. They are becoming more proactively informed, educated, and confident. And they are no longer willing to be passive in their journey. We all need to be embracing this emerging patient type and building solutions that work for them and are as unique as they are.
CEO and Scientific Director
Broadstreet Health Economics & Outcomes Research
Go to the Source
If we want to know more about what patients are thinking — let’s just ask them directly. Evolving qualitative methodologies can be extremely valuable tools to truly understand the perspectives of those living with specific health conditions. This can in turn inform engagement solutions developed with the patient perspective in mind, guided by their own feedback about strategies they think would work for them.
Bonnie MK Donato, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Cardio-Metabolic & Respiratory
Health Economics and Outcomes Research
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Focus on Value
Pharma, when presenting its evidence and services to healthcare practitioners, must focus on the value in terms of clinical and patient-relevant outcomes and impact on patients’ well-being. This focus will be underpinned by the undeniable demonstration of clinical and/or economic value, and at the same time will help elevate the information as compelling and relevant to conversations between healthcare practitioners and patients. Additionally, pharma can enhance its strategic leverage of
direct-to-consumer avenues to complement the healthcare practioners’ voices.
Senior VP & Head of Patient Services
The Right Touch points at the Right Time
By leveraging deep insights into access, affordability, and adherence barriers — and how corrective actions improve adherence — manufacturers can better serve patient needs with the right touch points at the right time. Through the power of predictive analytics and machine learning, manufacturers can rapidly identify patient behaviors and patterns to develop personas and predict the “next best action" for personalized engagement across direct and digital channels with just-in-time recommendations.
Managing Director, Digital
Leveraging Powerful Insights
Leveraging de-identified patient data and insights has created a new sophistication in outreach and personalization. With these powerful insights, manufacturers can develop precision messaging and deploy an array of targeted one-on-one conversations with patients and providers. More specifically, manufacturers can provide the personalized support they need to navigate the complexities of new therapy adoption by developing and disseminating custom education resources to help patients better understand their diagnoses and treatments.
Senior VP of Insights
Extracting Patient Insights
With social and digital health becoming increasingly popular as the preferred means of patient engagement, companies can truly understand gaps and experiences when engaging through this medium. For pre- and postmarketing activities related to clinical development, patient support, and marketing groups, biopharma has the ability to truly support patients at every critical point. Today’s patient insights, therefore, are maximally useful when culled from online health communities and health influencers and engaged in leading-edge social/digital platforms.
Social health — the digital means by which patients engage with each other about their health — is the new patient journey. A recent Health Union survey of 2,371 respondents shows that 95% of chronic patients use online social resources for health decisions. The desire to seek dynamic, meaningful connections, driven by online health communities and health leaders, creates more opportunities for biopharma to reach people in the right moments.
Senior Strategy VP
Optimizing Common Experiences
We all get excited about what’s new and cool for patients, but it’s crucial to pragmatically focus on optimizing the most common experiences. At the heart of strong patient engagement are great websites, personalized omnichannel experiences, and tactics — with smart content strategy — at every important intersection opportunity in the patient journey. We’re also bullish on focusing on the user experience to ensure that content and tactics aren’t being siloed even when workstreams are.
Frankly, the biggest trend we are still tracking is COVID — we’re trying to plan around not knowing whether people are going to be out and about and interacting in person later in 2021 and through 2022. But a more fun answer is that we’re always on top of targeting and tracking changes, which are the ongoing battles for marketers — you win some, you lose some. Gaming, Reddit, and Sonic are also extremely hot areas.