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The benefits of patient support programmes in specific disease areas

By Charlotte Maule

Charlotte Maule

Educating and empowering patients
The benefits of patient support programmes (PSPs) are many. PSPs provide vital education that can improve patients’ ability to manage their care more effectively and offer wrap-around services that can help navigate their treatment journey. They can be integral to supporting healthcare professionals (HCPs) because they can improve adherence to medication regimes and even provide invaluable insights that aid therapy design. Effective programmes can do much to support overstretched health services, but most importantly they can increase engagement and empower patients to better manage their condition. Improving patient engagement can only lead to better outcomes for all stakeholders – and PSPs can amplify this.

Bringing clarity and reassurance
Most patients want to take ownership of their care, and thanks to new digital capabilities we can support this by designing integrated PSPs that will reach more patients remotely and empower those that want it. But there will always be patients that respond better to more human contact, so it’s important that we create programmes that can be tailored as much as possible, and thanks to advances in digital and mobile technology a personalised approach can be applied on a much larger scale. Tailoring content is also key to ensure PSPs provide credible information that brings real value to patients and doesn’t just add to the overwhelming ‘noise’ in a world already rife with misinformation. Education via a PSP can be the antidote to this noise, bringing much-needed clarity and reassurance to the way that patients manage their treatment and conditions. For patients with rare diseases, where information is often scarce, being given access to trusted resources for disease education is so important.

A greater understanding of all perspectives
If we want to see genuine benefits from PSPs, then it’s imperative that we co-create them with patients and carers. PSPs require more than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. In particular, patients in the rare disease community may have specific support needs that are often neglected in programme designs. We need to treat patients and their families as true partners and involve them in the design of these programmes to give us a greater understanding of all perspectives and the nuances of how a condition affects patient communities. Pharma companies and doctors may be experts in the treatment of disease, but they can have a very different perception of the patient’s care priorities – patients are the true experts through living with their condition and this should not only be respected, but also harnessed to create best-in-class PSPs.

Better communication to empower patients
PSPs give patients the tools they need to manage their condition, but they need to be communicated effectively to really empower patients. A frequent concern from patients is that they don’t get enough time with their physician and often don’t get the information that they need about the treatment of their condition. Managing patients virtually using PSPs could potentially improve this by giving access to disease and treatment information that is always available via a smartphone or computer. Access to the right content and education is important but the language used to communicate is also vital to bridge this communication gap. Content is often targeted at HCPs and as such the language can be very technical and just won’t resonate with patients and carers. This leads to a lack of understanding and a breakdown of trust between patients and their healthcare teams, so getting this right is crucial for PSPs to improve patient care, well-being and treatment adherence. Because a PSP gives patients the tools they need to manage their condition, it can really empower them to take greater ownership and engage with their treatment.

Creating better conversations around patient health
Despite the many benefits of PSPs, there is still a lack of awareness amongst both HCPs and patients about the existence and the value of these programmes, which means they are not being used to their full potential. Pharma companies need to do more to raise awareness with their key stakeholders and to communicate the benefits of PSPs. As communicators, our role is to ignite credible conversations around health that have the potential to transform the patient experience. PSPs have the power to create better conversations between HCPs and patients, and also between patients, by connecting disparate communities with the use of peer mentors.
The future of PSPs looks bright and those that put patients at the centre of their design and involve them from the start have the potential to make genuine improvements to patient care.

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Charlotte Maule is Director at Anthem PR, part of the Resonant Group

12th September 2022

From: Marketing, Healthcare


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