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Write a prescription for improved patient journeys

Thorsten Rall
20 July 2023

Capgemini’s Data-driven CX provides life sciences companies with better understanding of how their customers use their products.

When talking about excellent customer experiences, likely the first thing to come to mind is shopping at a store or online for a consumer product – perhaps a shirt, a book, or a new phone. But every organization, in every sector, has customers – and can benefit from providing them with the best possible experiences.

For companies in the life sciences sector, the customers are primarily patients and healthcare professionals. And those customers form opinions about products and about the companies which create them.

Capgemini’s Thorsten Rall, Global Industry Lead Life Sciences, and Naresh Khanduri, Vice President, Digital Customer Experience, help clients leverage data to provide patients, healthcare professionals, and others in the sector with excellent customer experiences. Here, they discuss some of the unique experience challenges faced by life sciences companies, and how manufacturers benefit from using data and insights to gain a better understanding of customer journeys.

Why is it important for companies in the life sciences sector to create excellent customer experiences?

Naresh Khanduri: The key to improving patient outcomes is to understand the patient journey. For example, a pharmaceutical manufacturer wants to understand how a patient is using a drug it produces. Is the patient getting the information they need in order to take this drug correctly? Are they aware of potential side effects or conflicts with other drugs? Is the patient actually following those directions? Answering those types of questions is important if the company wants to improve the patient’s health outcomes.

How does creating excellent customer experiences help with that?

Thorsten Rall: As Naresh noted, patients don’t always follow the directions. When a life sciences company creates a new product, it typically conducts clinical trials. Patients in the trials are closely monitored to ensure they’re participating in the trial correctly. But there’s a huge difference between the experience a patient has in a trial and how they actually interact with a company’s product in real life. This is one of the fundamental challenges in the sector because there’s this notion that somehow a patient’s life has to circle around their health but the reality is, most people actually don’t want their life to circle around their health: they just want to live their life. Imagine a person who has to take a drug twice a day, but this person isn’t a morning person and frequently forgets to take their medicine before they leave the house. So, some days they take it as prescribed, and other days they take it only in the evening. That’s not ideal. By understanding their journey with the drug, the manufacturer can determine whether, for example, a different dose, delivery mechanism, or activation trigger would improve that person’s health outcomes.

Naresh Khanduri: For that reason, many life sciences companies would like to offer individuals a curated experience – one that understands the patient’s experience and then uses that information to better serve them. To expand on Thorsten’s example, the manufacturer might offer that patient who is not a morning person an app to remind them to take the drug. They might also offer other useful content, such as dietary advice to prevent possible negative interactions. It’s about more than the pill. It’s providing the pill plus personalized information, at the right time and in the right context, to improve the patient’s life. This creates trust, which is extremely important in healthcare. For one thing, building that trust can encourage the patient to share their experiences with taking the drug, which in turn can help the manufacturer improve it.

Most patients aren’t medical professionals, so what sort of useful feedback could they provide?

Thorsten Rall: There are many examples. And some of them can be simple. A good example for this relates to the leaflet that must be included inside every medicine package. This provides important information about the drug, its use, precautions and warnings, dietary restrictions, possible reactions with other medicines, and so on. But for space reasons, these are usually printed in extremely small fonts – and that can present problems. For example, elderly patients may not be able to read the leaflet or may have difficulty remembering the information. If they’ve had positive customer experiences with the manufacturer in the past, they’re more likely to share this feedback – which gives the manufacturer an opportunity to improve how this important information is presented for this group of patients. Moreover, a positive customer experience related to the leaflet may encourage the patient to share other, more personal information – such as symptoms related to the therapy – which can be vital data for the drug manufacturer.

So far, we’ve discussed examples of life sciences companies dealing directly with the patient. But most health matters are mediated through a healthcare system. What role do healthcare professionals play in this?

Thorsten Rall: In addition to understanding the patient journey, life sciences companies must also understand the experience of healthcare professionals. On the one hand, these professionals are under increasing pressure to treat more patients, so their time to learn about new products is severely limited. Meanwhile, the amount of information and innovation in the sector is accelerating. Doctors and other decision-makers are bombarded with information – new discoveries, therapies, insights into real-world outcomes, etc. – and they are expected to absorb this and make potentially life-changing decisions for their patients. But how do they get this information? Currently, they have to go to conferences, or have meetings with representatives from life sciences companies, or read through thick journals, or endure massive slide presentations. It’s generally not very user friendly, and definitely not something that’s easy to work into an already fully packed day. So there’s a huge need for a better customer experience for healthcare professionals. And that starts with understanding their journeys, too. For example, how frequently and via what channels do they want to receive this type of information? How does that vary by product and by context? And how do their needs evolve over time?

Naresh Khanduri: In addition, the customer experience for patients will be different than that for healthcare professionals, and life sciences companies need to accommodate that. For example, as a patient, my first engagement with the manufacturer may be in search of information about a drug I’m taking. The next time I interact with the manufacturer, I may be looking for recommendations on diet or other lifestyle changes that may improve my outcomes with this drug. To gain accurate information, I may have to share very personal, very identifiable information related to me, my health, and my lifestyle. Obviously, that information must be protected – for example, it must comply with privacy legislation and laws governing healthcare administration in the jurisdiction in which I live. But that data is also valuable to healthcare providers. For example, a pharmaceutical company could share useful data about a cohort – a group of patients with common characteristics such as age, gender, diet, lifestyle, and so on – to help doctors determine when and how to prescribe a particular drug.

Doing this correctly and gaining the greatest benefit requires the ability to collect and manage huge amounts of sensitive data and draw insights from it. How ready are life sciences companies to face this challenge?

Thorsten Rall: Almost every company in this sector has made this a priority and most of them have identified use cases or launched a project. Where they often struggle is in coping with vast amounts of information dispersed across many discrete sources. As noted in the 2022 Health & AI: Now and Next report from Capgemini Invent and AI for Health, life sciences organizations are still working on more robust data foundations, including improvements to data quality and data availability across their ecosystems. These challenges are not only complex but must be dealt with while complying with the stringent regulatory and legal frameworks that govern healthcare. For this reason, I’d argue a proper audit trail framework is far more important in life sciences than in most other sectors.

How does Capgemini address these challenges?

Naresh Khanduri: Capgemini created our Data-driven CX solution expressly to help enterprises take full advantage of insights from their data to build trust, transparency, and long-term customer relationships. Data-driven CX uses a unique framework to help Capgemini clients stitch together customer identities from across domains to provide a personalized, contextualized experience. It then uses AI to provide insights into how to customize engagements based on the customer’s historical actions and how they’re currently interacting with the enterprise. The result is better customer experiences – for example, by using Data-driven CX to predict what the customer’s next need will be, based on where they are on their journey. We have also developed several accelerators that reduce the time required for our clients to start seeing results.

Thorsten Rall: Hand in hand with this, we work with our clients to develop their customer-experience strategy so we can improve their business outcomes – so they don’t spend a lot of time and money on solving problems that don’t have a significant impact. What’s quite interesting about the sector is that even though life sciences is by its nature a very people-centric business – after all, it’s about treating and helping patients – historically the industry has been more product-centric than experience-focused. So, helping our clients identify and address the main pain points in their customers’ journeys is key. That will lead to not only improved business outcomes, but better relationships with healthcare professionals – and improved health and quality of life for patients.

Thorsten Rall

Global Industry Lead Life Sciences, EVP
Since January 2023, Thorsten has been the Executive Vice President and Global Industry Lead for Life Sciences at Capgemini. Previously, he worked at Novartis in various senior roles. As Senior Vice President of Digital Transformation & Innovation, he led the digital function, developed and implemented high-risk, high-return strategic innovation initiatives, and was responsible for Business Development and partnerships in the digital space.

Naresh Khanduri

Global Generative AI for CX Lead, Capgemini
Naresh has been with group for more than 6 years now and has played multiple roles. In his current role as “Strategic Initiatives & Growth Lead – DCX” he is responsible for envisioning, designing and building strategic initiatives to help Capgemini differentiate and win in market place.