Drugmakers have again been urged to adapt their business models to demonstrate that they are helping patients to adopt healthier behaviour and manage their diseases more effectively.

Ernst & Young’s annual report on the global life sciences industry notes that companies need to be more patient-centric but this is "a path that few companies to date have been able to take". Such a move is necessary given that "changing incentives are shifting more financial risk to providers" and patient-empowering technologies such as smartphone apps, social media, sensors and monitors.

This change is also leading to the emergence of what the report describes as the 'third place' in health care, ie "shifting the epicentre of the healthcare system from the hospital and doctor’s office to wherever the patient happens to be".

Technology drives move to healthcare 'third place'

E&Y lists several technological trends that are driving the shift to a “health care everywhere”, including next-generation social media. It gives the example of new sites such as Treato by First Life Research which "are going even further by using natural language processing and artificial intelligence to identify patterns and trends among discussion threads across multiple sites".

The report also looks at gamification – electronic and online games, "long viewed as deterrents to healthy behaviour", which are increasingly being used to promote better diet, weight control and medication adherence. It adds that "the line between everyday objects and medical devices is rapidly blurring".

Carolyn Buck-Luce, global pharmaceutical leader at E&Y, says life sciences companies "have reached a critical juncture where they must move beyond simply experimenting with patient engagement around the margins and ratchet up their investment in innovative business models that build enduring relationships with their customers". She adds that "successful companies will marry their deep understanding of their medical science with their total commitment to health outcomes and individual consumer preferences to deliver on the promise of personalised medicine".