Strengthening Patient Engagement

Oprah remarked in her 2013 address to Harvard University graduates that the single most important lesson she learned in 25 years talking to people every single day, was that there is a common denominator. After 35,000 interviews, as soon as the camera shut off, everyone inevitably asked, ‘was that ok?’

Was that ok? 

Did that go well? 

Did what I say resonate?
It is important to generate effective feedback loops when communicating with patients, patient groups and advocate communities to build trust and gain invaluable insights.

The details patients hold are the crumbs healthcare professionals routinely use to inform their diagnosis; they need this information to underpin clinical decisions and as a result, their ability to efficiently extract these insights is an important part of their daily life. 

The way in which a healthcare professional engages with a patient builds trust; the more trust there is in the relationship, the more freely information will flow in both directions. The benefit to all is better quality medical care and this is best achieved through the existence of an authentic relationship and feedback loop between practitioner and patient that resonates with both individuals.

COVID has pushed government bodies, companies and healthcare systems to approve drugs and vaccines quicker than before and with this, comes the need to reinforce patient engagement.

Gaining the patient perspective on specific therapy areas is key to understanding what’s important to the right patient at the right time – whether that’s disease awareness, access to care, or use of digital health technologies. 

By actively bringing the patient’s voice into the development cycle as early as possible, right from the start, pharmaceutical companies are better equipped to understand diagnosis and the steps that come after, what the disease means to quality of life, and so on. This in turn empowers researchers and regulators to have a holistic view of what having a particular disease truly means. 

The best communication strategies deployed by pharmaceutical companies respect how much the patient’s voice matters and ultimately set goals that result in the presence of patient voice in all stages of development. Better informed patients are beginning to engage more directly with the makers of their medicines and there is much to gain from impactful interactions which are given their due importance. 

The relationship with patients should be authentic, flow two ways and involve regular evaluation. The team at HME routinely works with our pharmaceutical clients on bespoke campaigns and can advise on media placement, messaging and reinforcing patient voice so a client’s communication strategy resonates in the best way with their intended audience.

Devneet Atherton