How immersive learning experiences can support and elevate patient-centricity goals in the pharma industry

In healthcare, services and care work best when a person’s needs are fully met and they feel heard and respected. It’s widely seen as a leading bastion of quality care and a model that is being increasingly embraced by healthcare systems globally. But without an understanding of what life is really like for people living with chronic conditions or the daily challenges they face, it becomes much more difficult to offer appropriate support, information and advice, provide the right level of care in the right way and develop new treatments that fit people’s needs.

Patient centricity is acknowledged as an important component of effective healthcare, fostering greater empathy and building trust between clinicians and patients, and resulting in better health outcomes and a better overall patient experience. It also presents opportunities for the pharmaceutical sector: marketing teams will be able to create emotive marketing strategies that connect sales messaging to patients’ needs in a more meaningful way; sales teams will be empowered to have more impactful conversations with healthcare professionals; and more products should be developed that fit into a patient’s day-to-day life and help solve some of the barriers they may face.

But it’s also more than that – by focusing on patients and recognising the daily challenges they face, staff at all levels will be inspired to work in a way that makes a difference. In general, a company with a culture of patient-centricity at its core is more likely to be successful.

There are a number of ways to involve patients, such as focus groups, surveys, working groups and interviews. These are all valuable methods, but have the same drawback – the patient experience will remain at arm’s length because you haven’t lived it.

One of the most effective ways to inspire patient-centricity is to move people emotionally. It is through emotions that we can develop a deeper connection with others. It creates empathy and understanding, and can have a lasting impact. To this end, immersive experiences, such as our award-winning A Life in a Day programme, provide a 360-degree look at how conditions affect people’s lives.

To achieve this, we use a combination oflive role play, physical items, multimedia materials and artificial intelligence through a smartphone app toplace people into a patient’s shoes, allowing them to experience a typical day in their life. Through these immersive experiences pharma can begin to understand what the real ‘pain points’ are for patients. Do you know how it feels for people with chronic heart failure to experience shortness of breath or swelling of their ankles? How would you feel if you had to live with a fear of wetting yourself due to the medication you need to take?

As healthcare evolves to centre even more firmly around patients, immersive experiences that place professionals into their shoes will become increasingly important as a tool by which to understand patients’ needs. Experiences like A Life in a Day allow pharma companies to build their knowledge of patient communities and develop patient-centric strategies to achieve their clinical, corporate and commercial goals in a way that will have lasting impact.

Mark Doyle is co-founder of The Method and creator of A Life in a Day