A Resolution for All in Healthcare: Listen and Learn from Patients

For the healthcare industry, 2015 is an opportunity to do things differently.

Embracing patient centricity can truly help to differentiate organizations in the marketplace. Whether you are in pharma, biotech, or medical device manufacturing; or you are a provider, a payer, or involved in any other sector of the industry – patients are integral to your success.

Steve Jobs said, “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” It’s not new, but finding actionable insights and being customer- and patient-centric is more important now than ever.

Across all industries, there’s a disparity in perception of what it means to be truly customer-centric. In a well-known Bain & Company study, 80% of companies surveyed said they deliver a superior customer experience, yet only 8% of their customers agreed. Particularly within the healthcare industry, though, this disparity rests inside the definition of what it means to be truly patient-centric. Conducting a focus group or an advisory panel a few times a year may check the CEO’s due diligence box for patient feedback gathering; however, these methods don’t build trusting, intimate relationships with patients and other stakeholders. It’s relationships that lead to impactful insights and, ultimately, the co-creation of resonant marketing messaging, relevant patient education materials, new products, or exciting innovations in patient care. Basically, what Jobs was referring to above.

And, while many within the healthcare industry might argue that big data alone is enough to achieve patient-centricity, it is unlikely to give you the whys behind the whats — the emotional triggers and real-world stories that have the power to deliver game-changing, cross-organizational insights.

In 2015, vow to listen, interact, and learn from patients. Integrate the voice of the patient into the very DNA of your organization, from the board room to the call center to the R&D lab. Understand their journey and daily struggles; the stories of how they came to choose or not choose your product or service, how they interact with their clinicians, your company or your product. Then balance that with the data – melding the emotional drivers with the rational ones.

Trust is the foundation of any healthy, ongoing relationship. According to Bain & Company, the best consumer research is derived “not just from one-off research projects but from a constant stream of feedback.” A longitudinal community of your patients and/or their caregivers will let you listen, test, iterate, and co-create. Patients in private, intimate communities establish trust with the facilitators (and with each other) enough to give their honest opinions and share the realities of living with their disease and the tradeoffs they make daily.

This year it’s time to do things differently. It’s time to make sure the voice of the consumer or patient on whom you are dependent is actually involved in your success — from product development to packaging to the content on your website to your marketing campaigns. And why, you may ask, would they want to help you learn and co-create? Similar to what McKinsey found, it’s not about the compensation for most; for patients, primary motivators are to connect with others like themselves and to have their voices heard so they leave a legacy helping those yet to embark on a similar journey. Consumer-driven healthcare is, after all, ultimately patient-driven!

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