To meet the needs of patients as compassionately as possible, with the goal of generating better clinical outcomes, studies have found that patients today are seeking easily understandable information related to their health, clearly defined treatment options, and user-friendly technologies that provide convenient access to personal health data. According to a report on the topic of patient centricity that was published in BMJ Journals, access and affordability of medications and support is a key driver of patient engagement, and patients reported that their healthcare experience would be improved if a more system-wide approach to healthcare existed between providers, payers, and patients.
Some areas in which a focus on patient centricity can have a measurable impact include clinical trials, remote monitoring of health, and the electronic collection and storage of individual’s health data. Drug makers who focus on reducing the barriers that prevent access to their products can successfully reach a maximum number of patients who will benefit from treatment. Additionally, by providing easily accessible info online, patients can better educate themselves about their health and manage their conditions and symptoms better.
The importance of patient centricity in clinical trials and drug development
By engaging patients at the start of a clinical trial to elicit their input regarding its design and implementation, drug developers can optimize the trial process and create a win-win scenario in which the objectives of the trial are not compromised, while the patient experience is as positive as possible. By taking a patient-centric approach to the trial process and drug development, the trial participants will feel like they are being treated as people and not test subjects.
Among the key factors that drive patient-centric drug development is the need to better understand patient populations; to engage patients before a trial begins to optimize its design; and to offer trial participants scheduling flexibility, remote monitoring, and telehealth options. By including these factors during the trial’s implementation stage, clinical outcomes can still be achieved while also greatly improving the patient experience.
By focusing on a deeper understanding of a patient population, drug makers can develop therapies that are better targeted for specific patient groups. Often, patients with the same disease will respond differently when treated with the same drug. One patient may experience positive clinical outcomes to treatment while another does not. In cases like this, drug makers will be able to better understand smaller patient populations by taking a patient-centric approach to treatment in combination with the use of biomarkers to gauge each individual’s treatment response.
By engaging patients or patient advocacy groups during the planning stage of a trial to elicit input on the trial’s design, patients will be more committed to their own treatment and will better adhere to treatment protocols. By taking each trial participant into consideration at an individual level, for example through digital companions, the patient experience can be improved which is particularly important for people with critical diseases such as cancer to make their quality of life as positive as possible.
Another challenge for clinical trial patients is the schedule of the trial itself, including the number of days each week or month that they have to be examined at a study center; how far the center is from their home; and how long the trial will last. By working up front with patients before the trial begins, participants can be given the chance to commit to a schedule that works best for them as long as their preferences are in line with the goals of the trial. This type of pre-trial communication and planning can help to humanize the process for the participants.
The impact of wearable technology and remote monitoring
Another factor that can positively impact the patient journey is the convenience that wearable technology and connected devices can play in monitoring a patient’s vital health data. Compared to visiting a doctor’s office on multiple occasions to monitor a patient’s health, wearable tech offers a continuous and more comprehensive picture of how a patient is reacting to treatment. In addition to giving patients added convenience, wearable tech offers physicians and technicians the ability to see trends in patient data that occurs in between visits to the doctor’s office.
Additionally, if a patient knows they’re being continuously monitored, they are incentivized to be more engaged in the treatment process and live a healthy lifestyle. For example, a patient with a cardiovascular condition may be tasked with achieving daily activity goals to promote better circulation and improved heart health. In such cases, wearable tech can offer increased convenience by remotely gauging data related to steps taken or stairs climbed by the patient in a given time frame.
Electronic access to individual health data
Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, people everywhere became more acutely aware of the importance of having electronic access to their personal health information. The ability to quickly open a file on one’s mobile device to show proof of vaccination versus carrying that information around in printed form exemplified the convenience and the need for digitally accessible medical information. The difference between having proof of vaccination and not having it could result in major daily inconveniences including denied entry into a public venue, a workplace, or a commercial airliner.
Of course, electronic access to personal health data must come in combination with clear lines of communication with one’s physician or specialist. In cases when an individual reviews, for example, laboratory results posted in their provider’s patient portal, the patient will often have questions about the results. This is when a patient-centric approach by the physician to immediately consult with the patient about lab results fosters the patient’s trust.
Another aspect of patient-centricity, especially as the global population continues to age, is the fact that individuals need to be more responsible for their own health and wellness. From utilizing patient portals and other electronically accessible data to using wearable tech for monitoring blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other measurables, patients today have a wide range of available options to ensure they are taking an active role in their own healthcare journey.
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