Digitally-augmented multi-channel engagement has proved to be a useful approach for working with patients. However, it is easy for  developers to default to a patient-facing website or an app that looks good and sounds impressive, but in practice doesn’t supply what patients want and need

Digitally-augmented multi-channel engagement has proved to be a useful approach for working with patients. It is flexible, easy to access, and provides up-to-date content in a range of accessible formats. However, it is easy for programme designers and content developers to default to a patient-facing website or an app that looks good and sounds impressive, but in practice doesn’t supply what patients want and need to improve their treatment experience and outcomes

Getting multi-channel engagement right

Sustainable behavioural change is a vital part of improving patient outcomes, but achieving this takes more than a single communications approach. Effective multi-channel patient engagement can involve a range of approaches and channels to bring the patient support, education and practical guidance to life, and provide useful tools that cater for different patients’ everyday needs.
While digital approaches are flexible, accessible and effective when used in the right patient populations, incorporating in-person support provides the optimal mix for patients navigating their way through what can be a complex clinical journey. Nurse-led patient support programmes enable increased in-person support for patients, with nurses providing tailored one-to-one emotional and practical support based on their clinical and social expertise.

Reaping the benefits

There are advantages for all stakeholders in providing effective multi-channel patient engagement. For patients, improved engagement encourages more informed decision making and activation into their treatment journey, which can contribute to better health outcomes. For healthcare professionals, patient support programmes can supply much-needed patient education and support, providing physicians and care teams with confidence that patients are supported on their therapy and allowing more time on vital clinical tasks. And for biopharma, patient support programmes can help them to get the right support to the right patients at the right time, through a channel that is meaningful to them. By leveraging the right mix of in-person support augmented with high quality digital resources for patients, biopharma can:

  • Improve the geographical reach of patient support
  • Cost-effectively increase the number and scope of patient touchpoints
  • More consistently capture data about the programme and treatment outcomes in the real world, increasing their understanding of patient behaviours and adding product value.

Building an effective multi-channel patient support programme

The ideal patient support programme provides nurse-led support and augments and amplifies this important relationship with behaviour-changing digital interventions, leveraging primary evidence and insights to deliver the right content at the right time, and generating a truly tailored and personalised experience for patients that meets their real needs.

In order to ensure multi-channel engagement programme success, programmes must:

  • Put behaviour change first and technology second
  • Incorporate both in-person and digital support
  • Adapt to different levels of patient need, throughout the patient pathway
  • Collect data to measure and enhance programme and product value

Looking to the future

Integrated patient support programmes which combine the right mix of high-touch nurse-led support with multi-channel digital solutions, are particularly relevant for today’s patients, particularly given the growth in highly innovative and effective but costly new therapies.  These include biologics and cell and gene therapies, where comprehensive support is needed to guide patients and those who care for them, through new delivery approaches and unfamiliar side effects. A high-touch approach to support will help to support patient empowerment and engagement in this new paradigm and improve patient quality of life and outcomes.

Rebecca Galbraith, head of communications, integrated market access, QuintilesIMS