The pharmaceutical industry is being reshaped by a set of economic, behavioral,
and technological megatrends. Digital technologies are a major contributor to
transformation in the industry, yet our research suggests that many pharmaceutical
executives don’t see digital disruption as a significant threat.
New modes of communication have primed patients to be receptive to digital forms of
engagement. We define digital patient engagement as an information flow between a
patient and a pharmaceutical company mediated directly or indirectly by digital technologies.
Digital patient engagement is a growing trend within the wider healthcare
industry, and pharmaceutical companies have been generally slow to adopt ways to
get closer to patients via digital tools and technologies. By contrast, non-traditional
players like Google, Microsoft, and IBM have become active participants in digital
Based on interviews with 30 executives, this report identifies the primary challenges
and opportunities for pharmaceutical companies in the process of developing digital
patient engagement initiatives. The benefits of effective engagement with patients are
numerous, and include enhanced quality of patient care, improved health outcomes
and faster and more effective research and development. However, significant challenges
remain, including restrictive regulations, a deficiency of digital capabilities,
and lack of buy-in from top leadership.
This report provides examples of digital patient engagement initiatives launched by
pharmaceutical companies, technology companies, and other industry stakeholders.
It also provides suggestions on how pharmaceutical companies can overcome the
most common barriers to the development and effective implementation of digital
patient engagement initiatives.