Are you providing patient support or creating a patient experience?

Dec. 16, 2021 | Article | 5-minute read

Are you providing patient support or creating a patient experience?

As life sciences companies shift to provide patients with personalized treatment support and deliver the type of seamless experience they expect from consumer brands, their efforts have been stymied by siloed data sources and a patchwork of various technologies. Disparate systems create frustration and fragmented support for patients—and inefficiencies and blind spots for life sciences companies.


To improve medication access and adherence, life sciences companies must invest in patient support solutions that provide an efficient and connected experience. As companies reimagine the treatment experience, a customer relationship management (CRM) solution will be a critical foundation to enabling cohesive, tailored patient experiences. CRM solutions can bridge gaps in an end-to-end patient journey that’s become disjointed and can support patients across the healthcare ecosystem. 

“Create personalized patient experiences. Patients expect personalization throughout their journey. They want to receive communication that’s targeted to them as individuals.”

The case for a CRM as a foundation for support programs

Patients expect personalization throughout their journey. They want to receive communication that’s targeted to them as individuals, with outreach that is uniquely catered toward their needs. To meet customer expectations, omnichannel customer experiences will need to harness customer data and use customer preferences to design adaptive customer journeys.


For life sciences companies to be more responsive to a variety of patient needs, they need to have more control over delivery of the customer’s experience. Companies need a CRM platform built with the patient in mind that will deliver personalized, engaging support programs at scale.


A centralized and harmonized CRM platform can enable life sciences companies to design automated, adaptive journeys to communicate with patients at optimal times, based on their individualized needs. These journeys can be tailored to each patient in real-time when supported by artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms that can identify next-best service or action recommendations based on historical engagement data. CRM platforms such as Salesforce deliver these capabilities to help life sciences companies better understand their patients and meaningfully connect with them through one-to-one engagement.

How CRM systems help patients across their treatment journey

ZS has found opportunities for CRM to enable meaningful patient experiences in a new era or care  across four key phases: activate, get, start and stay.

Activate: In previous ZS research, we found patients—particularly at diagnosis—turn to other sources such as healthcare providers and advocacy groups more often than to life sciences companies. The bar is higher for life sciences companies to create memorable experiences at the onset to keep patients engaged.


Life sciences companies can provide valuable education and tools at the beginning of patients’ journeys, based on their specific interests and preferences, and customize follow-on outreach. First impressions count. Life sciences companies need to not only provide support but also to offer outreach and information that anticipates patient and caregiver needs.


Get: Patient access to treatment has become increasingly difficult due to payer and policy interventions. Patient out-of-pocket costs continue to rise, and prescription abandonment increases 0.6% for each out-of-pocket dollar. After patients receive a prescription, they may need to go through a series of insurance hurdles to get access to treatment. Patients are often confused about cost and not aware of financial assistance programs.


Sustained, proactive support to help patients get help with covering the cost of medications or insurance coverage is needed to help patients get more efficient access to their medications and reduce patient drop-offs.


ZS research found “get” services were only used by 58% of the population who were aware of these resources. To improve adoption, life sciences companies must provide more value across stakeholders by improving their ability to deliver timely, coordinated patient support. A CRM platform can support coordination not only by tracking outreach to payers, providers and patients but also by escalating cases that exceed turnaround time goals. A CRM platform can help support task delegation and prioritization to improve efficiency and patient satisfaction. CRM platforms also can help support adoption of copay programs through outreach based on patient-preferred channels and cadence.


Start: After patients fill their prescriptions, they may have questions about their first dose or need injection support for a biologic. While patient needs may be different, life sciences companies can use data collected on customer onboarding experiences and fine-tune outreach to the individual. By better understanding customers, life sciences companies can anticipate needs and deliver customized experiences and support services.


A flexible CRM solution can enable consistent outreach through call scripting and flows. Based on information collected from patients during onboarding, care coordinators can guide patients to additional resources and care. A CRM platform also provides dashboards to track customer call volume to determine demand for onboarding services, helping life sciences companies to ensure appropriate staffing levels to meet patient therapy initiation needs.


Stay: ZS computed benchmarks for 35-plus products across nine therapeutic categories and found higher patient adherence to medications that have more convenient dosing schedules than other comparable options. Companies with therapies that have more complex dosing schedules than their competitors will need to support patients in setting up routines to ensure they take their medication properly, for improved health outcomes to meet industry adherence benchmarks.


Based on information collected about patients, life sciences companies can segment their populations according to individual needs and adherence risk levels to design support programs focused on behavior modification to empower patient self-management. CRM solutions can sit at the center of these programs by enabling automated outreach or flagging high-risk patients for care coordinators to proactively contact. Healthcare CRM, like Salesforce Health Cloud, can help alleviate friction points patients face and close the therapy gaps they experience during treatment. They’re no longer left on their own to locate help—and then hope it’s appropriate and reliable.

Moving away from a one-size-fits all patient engagement model

Effectively implementing a healthcare CRM system begins with defining a vision for the patient support program and conducting a capabilities assessment of the current system. The focus should be not only on opportunities to optimize technology stacks for efficiency must also enable opportunities to redefine the patient experience.


To learn more about patient support programs, watch this webinar from ZS and Salesforce.

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