The impacts of COVID-19 on patients and healthcare practitioners is proving to be extensive. We know that people are losing their livelihoods, and many will struggle to stay healthy—especially patients living with chronic conditions that require medications and treatments to stay healthy. We also know that a fresh set of demands is being placed on HCPs as they conduct their professional responsibilities.
Consumers are facing a new set of challenges as they seek to get back to normal in the wake of COVID-19. In a recent LIFT study consumers and HCPs alike shared emerging new realities that they are facing. Consumers who have chronic conditions are struggling to stay on top of therapy. Their emotional, financial, and familial wellbeing are being put to the test. Healthcare practitioners are adjusting to new demands such as the sudden shift to telemedicine and restrictions in some areas of patient access. In a separate study consumers shared that they are feeling anxious about re-entering a healthcare system that is potentially fraught with new dangers.
In short: your brands and reputations are on the line.
This new reality presents an important opportunity for healthcare providers and pharma brands. Healthcare companies need to play an active role in nurturing wellbeing and competency in the patient they are charged with caring for.
For Pharma : : Lighten the Load.
Pharmaceutical companies must get ahead of the looming patient financial and wellbeing crises. They must create strategies and programming for dealing with new and unusual patient support demands.
For example, insulin-dependent patients facing unstable financial predicaments may find themselves unable to access lifesaving medications. Under these circumstances, pharmaceutical companies will be compelled to look for ways to lighten the burden of COVID-19 on their patients—especially those who have lost insurance coverage as a result of the unstable job market. Call centers, wellbeing advisers, and other patient-centered support services will be necessary. These services will help diabetic patients navigate options and ensure that there is no interruption to access to medication.
For Health Systems : : Know the Journey.
With changes in patient access such as telemedicine and novel care delivery methods emerging, it is more important than ever to map reality. Including the patient and HCP in solution design will keep you maintain a focus on innovation while encouraging patient and HCP competency. Understanding stakeholder reality and empowering purposeful engagement in individual roles will influence positive behavior change. Positive changes in behavior will lead to higher levels stakeholder competency and improved patient outcomes.
For example, implementation of telemedicine at scale will be challenging for individual health systems. While the barriers to such care delivery formats have come tumbling down, there is still a period of adjustment that doctors and patients must navigate. Clinicians are realizing that they must “finish” their virtual consultations properly. Normally, at the end of the face to face consultation, there is standing up; shaking of hands; visual cues such as nodding and door opening. HCPs will want to do the same thing in a digital setting—performing a series of mental and physical cues that keep the patient at ease while ending on a productive note.
5 tips for better patient understanding and competency building
- Know the journey— Understanding the patient journey is crucial to patient engagement, but just as important is fostering the right patient mindset within that journey. This is where behavioral science, in tandem with effective use of technology, provides a more holistic approach to engaging your patients and their primary caregivers. This enables providers to take a human-centric and ‘whole patient’ approach to meet patients where they are and address not just the clinical, but also the psychosocial aspects of living with a condition.
- Be relatable— Connect with stakeholders in a voice that they relate to. If we are relatable, we have a better chance of purposeful engagement. And if we have solid engagement with the stakeholder, then we have a better chance of empowering behavior. And, an empowered stakeholder is one who will likely be more competent. And competency is the domain of behavior that can deliver better outcomes for the patient as well as the provider.
- Champion multiple stakeholders— It is clear that there are many fresh and notable voices informing and driving change across the healthcare landscape. Anyone who has been affected by COVID-19 will have a voice to share. This is a quintessential moment for folks who champion innovation in the healthcare industry. The more voices the better—and the more relevant and salient the voices driving innovation, the more effective (and sticky) innovation will be.
- Provide knowledge that motivates— Knowledge is not enough to change behavior—people also need the proper motivation and skills. Knowledge is what the patient knows about a healthcare issue, while motivation is a personal thing driven by core values and beliefs. If it were a formula it might look something like this: knowledge + motivation + skills = sustainable changes in human behavior.
- Partner with experts— There are strategic partners who can help illuminate a path forward and who have the knowledge and experience to help stand up a successful innovation landscape. Seek out a partner or partners who can facilitate insights gathering, deign thinking programming and help with implementing new programs that will bolster your brand(s) and elevate your value in the eyes of patients and clinicians alike.
Things have changed—for patients, for clinicians, and for caregivers. Championing that change is not an option, rather it is an imperative—one that must be met with empathy and a detailed understanding of the patient and HCP journey.