Updated on 5 September 2014
Mr David Coman is the Senior Vice President, Marketing, Engagement and Communications at Quintiles, US
The biopharmaceutical industry is facing a number of macro-environmental factors, which underscore its need to think of itself not as a developer of singular products, but as a critical part of an interoperable system. This fundamental shift must include a strategic approach for engaging with an increasingly informed and connected patient population.
The amount of medical information now available to patients online is truly remarkable. Coupled with a decrease in the amount of time physicians can actually spend with their patients, today's health care consumers are savvy, engaged and have a strong desire to learn as much as they can about their diseases. Increasingly, patients are searching for health information online via a growing cadre of digital tools that enable self-education and greater personal control, even before consulting their physicians. Patients then use what they've learned online to enhance the dialog with their health care provider; they now enter the conversation about their health care needs far more informed than at any other time in history.
While dramatic advancements in communications have empowered the digital patient, eroding patient access to physicians has accelerated their plight. Physicians are now seeing nearly 17 percent fewer patients per day than they did in 2008.
Among other reasons, these dynamics are fueling the patient empowerment movement.
Patients, in fact, may be the most underutilized resource in the healthcare system, because many of the traditional approaches for interacting with patients were born in an unwired century. Understanding the digital patient and enabling them to become actively and appropriately involved in achieving better healthcare outcomes must become a new priority for the health care industry.
We have now entered an era in which the digital world will dramatically shape health care, much as it has done to other industries. Today is the age of the digital patient-with the patient at the center of the networked environment-and patients are actively seeking information about their health without the constraint of geographical boundaries or physician intermediaries.