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Technology is Changing the Role of the Patient

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Social media has the potential to change the role of the patient in healthcare.

​How Is Technology Changing the Role of the Patient?

As patient engagement becomes increasingly important in healthcare, various communities have sprung up to encourage patient participation. Emerging technologies have facilitated these communities—allowing patient advocates from across the country to connect with one another and allow for a more global discussion of the patient’s role in healthcare. This discussion has led to many insights, including the idea that pharmaceutical companies can build patient centricity into their development process.

The Globalization of Patient Advocacy

The emergence of various social media platforms has allowed patient advocates to connect on a more global basis. There are many online communities organized around patient health in which patient advocates can share their experiences with one another. These communities often run various courses promoting patient centricity, including the European Patient Advocacy Group (ePAG) which offers members the opportunity to gain a patient advocacy qualification in research and development. Other organizations such as Patient Focused Medicines Development work across patient communities and investigate issues affecting drug development. The work these groups are undertaking is to put patient needs at the forefront of healthcare and empower patients to decide about their own health. These groups are becoming more organized because of emerging technologies, and patient advocacy efforts have only strengthened.

Emerging Technology and Patient Advocacy

New technology and social media platforms enable patient engagement. Because of social media, organizations can now reach a much larger base of patients to connect with. This allows patients and patient advocates to collaborate with one another and organize in a way that they could not previously. It is now possible to talk with patient advocates from across the globe to share information about new patient-centered initiatives. This kind of engagement with other patient advocates is valuable, particularly as it connects those within the pharmaceutical industry who are trying to facilitate change. With more conversation occurring between patient advocates, it may be easier to coordinate patient advocacy efforts.

How Do You Engage with Patients?

Pharmaceutical companies are now beginning to build patient engagement into the development process. In development, there are many ways for health organizations to ensure that patient needs are being met in various stages. For instance, companies can encourage patient participation in study designs and protocols. Patients can weigh in on these protocols to ensure that their needs are being adequately met. Companies can also develop research questions and outcome measures relevant to patients. This may mean that companies must determine which patient populations it should include in the study design and make study participation easier for patients.

Patient advocacy promises to change the patient-clinician relationship—emphasizing the importance of the patient’s needs in healthcare and engaging patients in shared decision making about their treatment plans. Companies should include patient engagement in their development process. To facilitate this, it may be helpful to consult with an attorney to ensure that regulations are being properly followed.

If you have any other questions about how to communicate with the FDA or how your past and/or current FDA communications affect you and your business goals, reach out to me on Twitter, LinkedIn, or send me a message here.

I also host a podcast called DarshanTalks, a show that discusses newsworthy FDA issues and how they apply to bringing a product to market – and keeping it there. From patient centricity in clinical trials to the government shutdown to CRISPR and bioethics to why big data is doomed to fail in healthcare, we’ve got quite the list of topics to review! Listen to the podcast on Google Podcasts or on Apple Podcasts.

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