The Future is Now—7 Healthcare Trends to Watch in 2015

Healthcare Predictions

Heather Aton, Chief Innovation Officer at Dudnyk and Drew Desjardins, the company’s Chief Strategy Officer are a formidable team as they work together to shape a better future for the agency, its clients, specialty physicians and their patients.

Here are the trends these Dudnyk thought leaders believe will have the greatest impact on the future of healthcare.

1. Trend: Innovation

Aton: Vision and leadership are the most important influences enabling innovation in healthcare. Healthcare is no longer about developing a great product and offering a suite of services to fit every marketing or treatment scenario. It’s not about selling something anymore.

New, powerful data sources help us really focus on understanding the moments of truth in a customer journey. Innovation in healthcare is about building and creating something better/more useful at those moments of truth.

And indeed, it’s ultimately about value—being bold and brave enough not to look at protecting what used to be or simply containing costs, but rather how to realize greater value in line with a visionary purpose.

2. Trend: Payers — Evidence-based medicine, comparative effectiveness, cost containment

Desjardins: The cost of pharmaceutical therapy has always been highly and at times unfairly scrutinized. The relationship, however, between clinical outcomes and drug cost outlays has never been more important. That’s why manufacturers who can clearly demonstrate how their drugs contribute to reduced overall cost of care will win in the era of healthcare cost containment.

One strategy that can be effective in showing this reduction is by developing an adherence program that works uniquely with the drug therapy. It has been said that the most expensive drug is the one that the patient does not take.

However, it’s not as simple as saying, “take your medicine as directed.” 

Rather, manufactures should work with plans to model patient psychographic data that reflect the individual plan’s unique patient populations. The models can be used to develop educational approaches that will be much more effective than traditional adherence campaigns, have measureable outcomes, and result in reduced overall cost of care.

3. Trend: Personalized/Precision Medicine

Aton: In the healthcare world, some thematic insights have been guiding change for a while now, influencing a shift in strategic thinking about providing therapies and delivery of care and influencing personalized and precision technologies. Across disease categories, there has consistently been a disconnect between patient and provider. This chasm in the dialogue now mandates all parties to ask the right questions and have a better, more effective conversation.

Personalized and precision medicine will place more onus on patients, who will be encouraged to take an even more active role in their own health. They will be expected to make good choices and manage lifestyle factors, align with providers on goals and streamline efforts to execute on smart treatment strategies. In turn, they will need and deserve a different, more personal experience with providers.

New trends are emerging that put a stronger focus on healthcare delivery. For example, we are now in the era of the hospital or office-based healthcare coordinator, who brings a background in hospitality or service industry experience to the healthcare delivery space in order to elevate the experience, motivate patients and caregivers, and support greater knowledge, understanding, and outcomes.

And when it comes to payers, they will be able to look at value that truly improves healthcare quality, more effectively tying incentives and reimbursement to proven outcomes. With precision and personalized medicine, systems, payers, patients, and caregivers will all have the ability to synergize in ways never before possible.

4. Trend: Power of the Patient — The Era of Healthcare Consumerism

Desjardins: Understanding customers has always been at the heart of effective marketing strategies. Knowing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors is the only true way to create meaningful engagement. With so many patients actively participating in the healthcare decision-making process and gathering information from sources other than their healthcare professional, it is essential to know where and from whom patients are getting their information.

Companies like Treato, Crimson Hexagon, and Sysomos enable real-time data collection in the social media space and facilitate insight generation. More data leads to better insights that make understanding customers easier and more actionable.

What used to take months to generate, can be done in minutes on a marketer’s desktop—allowing the marketer to concentrate on creating educational programs that will resonate with consumers and actually facilitate a better conversation with the consumer’s healthcare professional. 

5. Trend: Digital Disruption

Aton: With the understandably stringent regulatory environment around medical and healthcare communications, the use of social media has been a polarizing topic. However, companies who truly understand their “audience”—whether it’s a healthcare professional, patient, caregiver or consumer—have so many opportunities to communicate in social media without even discussing a disease, product, or brand.

Brand and digital strategies can and should shift accordingly. Marketing has always been about targeting and relevant content grounded in solid insights about customer attitudes and behaviors.

The healthcare marketing world can evolve to a place where the communications are no longer necessarily about product features and benefits. When strategies become truly based on what customers believe in, then social media will realize its full impact in offering value—the right content in the right place at the right time.

6. Trend: Specialty Pharma

Desjardins: Specialty pharmaceuticals have treated and cured some of the most troublesome diseases of our time—many can be considered true miracle drugs. Yet patients still question the out-of-pocket costs of specialty pharmaceuticals as the cost of these drugs can be a significant burden to families. At the same time, it is mind boggling how adherence rates for these drugs are often no better than drugs that treat far less serious conditions.

We live in an era where we are surrounded by data that enables us to engage patients on an individual level. Educational programs that employ principles of adult learning by creating relevant, practical, goal-oriented experiences tailored to an individual’s needs and facilitated through partnerships with specialty pharmacies can dramatically improve adherence. Manufacturers who take this approach will build lasting relationships with patients by helping them understand the value of the medications, which should ultimately enhance patient outcomes. 

7. Trend: Connected Health

Aton: As patients around the world have adopted digital networks and services, even when it comes to their own healthcare, the time has come for systems, payers, and providers to fully convert on their digital strategies. For healthcare to be truly connected, it is imperative that the value pathways across stakeholders are well coordinated. It is also important that these pathways are constantly evolving; they should be dynamic and easily refined as new real-time data become available.

Precision medicine should allow for healthcare to become a well-orchestrated concert of efforts, with timely and consistent access to information for all stakeholders. In turn, transactional engagements will be really important for maintaining relevance and establishing value, and gathering even more timely data.

More data should mean better, cleaner information that leads to tighter insights and more effective strategies—a wonderful positive feedback loop.

All of this requires the industry to move away from the need to message at its audience and think about using the gathered data to build the most meaningful, useful content for targets.

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