Nino Giguashvili (Senior Research Analyst)

Developing effective care solutions and therapies for today’s most prevalent diseases requires close “proximity” to patients. Closer engagement with patients is needed to gain a deeper understanding of their conditions, personalise treatments, optimise compliance, provide motivation and educational support, or improve patient experiences and quality of life. And there are more ways to address human health than via pharmacotherapy alone.

Technology is redefining the way pharmaceutical companies can engage with patients to address their needs more comprehensively. While the “patient sapiens” of the digital era expect more choice, convenience, personalisation and control over their care, the pharma industry must rethink its traditional business models. The industry needs to leverage ICT solutions to engage with patients more directly, envisioning innovative offerings within, around and beyond the pill.

What Are the Benefits of Digital Patient Engagement in Pharma?

  • Critical differentiation: The accelerating shift to digital communication channels and the new realities created by the COVID-19 pandemic present a rare window of opportunity for pharma to create new offerings via digital patient engagement and gain competitive edge on the market.
  • New business models: Digital engagement with patients enables pharma to adjust to new business, operational and organisational models in healthcare, including new models of care delivery, product distribution and reimbursement.
  • New treatment approaches for new disease patterns: Developing effective treatments for today’s most prevalent diseases requires close engagement with patients, whether to gain deeper insights into their illnesses, optimise treatments, impact health behaviours or improve their experiences.
  • Treatment compliance: As C. Everett Koop, a former US Surgeon General, once said, “Drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them.” Patient engagement technologies, such as connected medication adherence monitoring systems and disease management apps, have huge potential to improve medication adherence and increase both treatment and cost effectiveness.
  • Quality, speed and efficiency of R&D: Digital patient engagement technologies offer major benefits across all stages of R&D (e.g., clinical trial site selection, patient matching, recruitment and retention, and collection of data).
  • Meeting patient expectations in the new digital era: “Patient sapiens” expect personally relevant approaches, whether in terms of convenience, treatment choice or access to information, services and products. Digital patient engagement tools offer pharma an excellent opportunity to better address the needs of their ultimate beneficiaries — the patients.

How Can Pharma Realise the New Opportunities?

Patient engagement opportunities for pharma span all levels of care, from enabling prevention and early detection to supporting chronic disease management and long-term care. Pharma companies can realise benefits across the entire product life cycle, as part of R&D, commercialisation or by offering digital solutions as therapy (digital therapeutics).

The European pharma industry now has a rare opportunity to create its new brand in the digital patient engagement arena. IDC Health Insights advises that pharma companies follow the SPOT framework to succeed in this journey. The framework addresses the following pillars of transformation:

  • (S) Strategy and vision
  • (P) Patient engagement by design
  • (O) Organisation and culture
  • (T) Technology platform

Building a transformative beyond-the-pill vision and strengthening direct engagement with patients is the chief requirement for pharma to thrive in the new healthcare paradigm focused on proactive, personalised and integrated care. Forward-looking organisations are already tapping into the new opportunities. IDC’s surveys show that more than 30% of Western European pharmaceutical firms plan to invest in digital patient engagement solutions in the near term.

How Do I Help My Business?

It’s important to closely examine the entire spectrum of use cases to spot the opportunities. The IDC PlanScape Digital Transformation for Patient Engagement in Pharma: The Landscape of Opportunities offers a thorough guide to help European pharma companies navigate the wide-ranging opportunities, identify the critical success factors, and understand the why, what, who and how of planning digital transformation strategies for patient engagement.

Contact us to learn more about digital patient engagement in life science and how we can help you build strategies to realise opportunities: Nino Giguashvili and Silvia Piai. We’d love to hear from you, or head over to and drop your details in the form on the top right.