Image credits: Towfiqu barbhuiya en Unsplash

Patient Centricity Still a Work in Progress

By Miriam Bello | Mon, 09/05/2022 - 12:06

Patient centricity has become a buzzphrase among healthcare and life sciences companies. However, its true implementation remains underwhelming as practices remain fairly traditional. Further adoption of novel standards and an overall change in mindset are necessary for patient centricity to take hold, agree experts.

Patient-centered care is built around listening to, informing and involving patients in their own care. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) defines patient-centered care as “providing care that is respectful of, and responsive to, individual patient preferences, needs and values.”

The development of medical innovation using a patient-centric approach, according to A Definition of Patient Centricity, by Guy Yeoman, provides an opportunity to more closely meet patient needs and therefore improve their lives in ways that patients and their families view as meaningful. Deloitte explains that consumers’ eagerness to participate in healthcare decision-making, the movement toward personalized therapies and regulator mandates to incorporate patients’ perspectives into product development and approval processes are some of the drivers of patient-centricity strategies in the life sciences industry.

Many life sciences companies can claim they are patient-centric given that they are making and marketing products for patients. However, “the patient’s perspective has traditionally been viewed through the lens of the physician, the regulator or the health plan,” according to Deloitte. To move past this, medical device organizations should consider adopting novel practices when selling to medical providers and their patients.

The first of these novel practices is identifying the benefits, risks and other patient-centered considerations for treatments of a given disease. To do so, companies can conduct studies to see patient responses directly from the patient or they can partner with patient advocacy groups. Companies would then be able to redefine their strategies around a value-based patient experience. “Putting the patient at the center of our work guarantees quality, efficiency, innovation and cost-effectiveness in the development and manufacturing of medical devices,” explains Ana Riquelme, Executive Director of the Mexican Association of Innovative Medical Devices Industries (AMID).

Medical devices are sometimes not accessible to all segments of the population. Value-based healthcare models are another novel practice to break this barrier and provide patients with access to innovative solutions, according to Riquelme. Value-based medical devices allow patients to spend less money to achieve better health. Patients with chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and obesity report a quicker recovery or a better management of the disease when using these devices. As a result, patients require fewer doctor’s visits, medical tests and procedures, spending less on prescription medication as both near-term and long-term health improve.

The redefinition of medical devices development and their financing through a value-based model could reduce the burden on hospitals and bring relief to saturated health systems, as well. “In this scenario, patients would use a medical device as a diagnostic tool to detect an ailment at an early stage,” explains Michael Barriga, General Manager and COO of Omron Healthcare. He adds that these devices would be used as a preventive diagnostic rather than a corrective tool. “This model creates cost savings for health systems and for patients.”

The third practice involves the prioritization of patient experience once goals for a certain treatment are defined. This, Deloitte explains, tests the product’s design, transparency and engagement, among other factors. “Maintaining a patient-centric model demands that the industry rethinks success measures based on new metrics,” says Alexander Group. These would depend on the disease being addressed but an example can be estimating total days for therapy, total lives saved, hospitalization days or life-saving treatments administered.

The most important aspects to consider in the process of designing and developing patient-centric devices, according to Yuhgo Yamaguchi, Principal at Continuum, are design thinking and innovation based on the patient’s context. “See where the device is used today and then, be able to design a device for today, but most importantly, for tomorrow,” he said during an interview with MD+DI.

Successful patient-centric devices will ideally foster treatment attachment, as in the case of Merck’s pen-shaped devices for fertility. “With fertility, adherence becomes even more challenging because almost every solution in the market consists of products for intramuscular application, which are harder to apply. Merck’s novel treatment gives patients a convenient application device to make it easier for the patient to use the treatment,” shares Alfredo Román, Director of the Fertility Unit at Merck Group México.

Patient-centric models themselves are the future of healthcare, not just for medical device design and development but for the complete operations of health systems. However, challenges still persist to shift from a paternalistic patient-provider relationship to one that requires shared responsibility by using responsive devices. “Patient centricity demands a change of mindset that must be cultivated within healthcare companies,” explains Alcimed. Its implementation will only be successful when its added value is evident to both patients and companies.

The construction of this evident value will be based on big data insights that manage patient data and health information in general. Dependency on patient-centered data-driven insights can help organizations meet standards of financial models, such as value-based healthcare reimbursements, supporting the cost-efficiency of organizations. “Without patient-focused metrics that align with the care model, health systems will fail to accurately measure value,” says Health Catalyst.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst