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Innovation and Technology Usher in Era of “Personalized Medicine”

Patients have evolved and now take charge of their own illnesses. They are active and informed, play a bigger role in decision-making about their health, and confront their medical challenges in a genuine and conscious manner.

They leverage all the tools and new technologies at their disposal for researching medical topics because they need to understand their condition, become aware of the path that lies ahead following their diagnosis, and learn their prognosis and how their illness may change their lives.

Scenarios in which doctors are aloof and not attuned to patients’ needs, or only address their concerns during a medical visit or consultation, are no longer viable. Companies whose contact with patients is limited to encouraging them to buy and consume their products also are bound to be unsuccessful. Today, it is essential to establish a connection with patients and acknowledge them as the protagonists of their treatment.

Caregivers play a very important role, likewise relying on technology to actively detect and monitor their loved ones’ symptoms and health conditions. Using mobile apps, caregivers can manage medication timetables, communicate with doctors, compare prices and take patients’ glucose measurements and heart rates.

Successful healthcare brands involve patients and caregivers each step of the way and use technology to overcome existing limitations and innovate to offer superior value and better results.

The Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, virtual reality, point-of-care diagnostics, telehealth, biosensors and trackers, and the use of social media and online communities to track consumer experience and population health trends in real time are technological innovations that are changing business models and the way in which health-care organizations currently prevent, diagnose, monitor, and treat disease. 1

One survey on the role of the Internet in searching for health information found that 8 in 10 people in Spain use Google to learn about an illness or ailment, compared with 77% who seek that information via a face-to-face medical appointment and more than 45% who consult a pharmacist. 2

These people are not trying to find the solution to an illness they may have or believe they have. Patients (and their caregivers) are looking for clearly expressed information about their condition, an explanation of treatment options, and testimonials in forums, blogs, or associations, where they also hope to find a space to share experiences.


Personalized Medicine

It is now taken as a given within the medical profession that patients will be informed when they come to their consultations.

The patient may have found the doctor through an online search and dug further to learn about his/her experience and education. It also is possible the appointment was booked through the medical office’s online scheduling system and that the consultation was long-distance. Likewise, after an “exchange of opinions” with his/her doctor (considering that the patient already looked at probable diagnoses based on his/her symptoms and even reviewed the best treatment options), it is likely that that health services client will go back online to research the treatment plan and confirm that it has received regulatory approval, review the treatment indications, the timetable for the treatment to take effect, and potential expected side-effects.

The patient is empowered because he/she is able to actively participate in the process, take control of the situation, make decisions, and assume responsibility for his/her condition. On the other hand, the doctor must acquire greater skills and knowledge to successfully perform his/her duties.

Neuropsychiatrist Edilberto Peña de León, an expert in technologies for managing mental illnesses, refers to this new approach as “Personalized Medicine.”

“We’re getting to the point in which patients will share their electronic medical record with all of their doctors in the cloud, where there will be information about their genome, showing their susceptibility to illnesses, their probable response to drugs, their biological profiles (such as their physical activity and sleep patterns), some algorithm calculations about how their online behavior might predict the presence of certain pathologies, their compliance with healthy lifestyle measures, and their medication adherence,” says the physician, who also is the director of research at Mexico’s Neurosciences, Research, and Emotional Development Institute (INCIDE).

That is why it is crucial for healthcare companies to develop a direct relationship with patients, family members, caregivers, the medical community, and even governments with a view to maximizing technological capacity.
It is time to stop communicating unilaterally and start creating true connections that make it possible to meet patients’ needs and provide answers efficiently.

Newlink: Building Successful Brands

Jorge Ramírez, senior vice president of Newlink’s Health and Wellness area, says both patients and caregivers are looking to share their “moments of truth” throughout the process: starting with the initial detection of a health problem and continuing with their interaction with doctors, the diagnosis, and through to their coming to terms with the disease and the selection of a suitable treatment path. And it is precisely with the participation of all those involved in a patient’s care that these information exchanges take on special relevance.

Under Ramírez’s leadership, Newlink’s brand-building efforts extend beyond the physician’s office, promoting educational campaigns and testimonial- and fact-based content that drive the development of pharmaceutical companies, doctors, hospitals, and health-service providers to build loyalty, advocate for treatments, improve their reputations, share credible information, and directly influence the sector.

A consultant and strategist with more than 20 years of experience in the industry, Ramírez says the sector’s companies should strive not only to discover new therapies and medications, but also to successfully provide patients with access to those drugs.

Although the industry is conservative by nature, previous models can be transformed through marketing and communication tools, market penetration, governments, and the updating of doctors and employees, Ramírez says.

“Our consulting practice builds health care brands though the participation of key opinion leaders, executive boards, researchers, caregivers, and patients. This evidence is used to help pharmaceutical companies, doctors, hospitals, and health-service providers build loyalty and obtain results that help improve patient treatment, while at the same time bolstering their reputation,” he says.

Sources

1 https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/Life-Sciences-Health-Care/gx-lshc-top-10-health-care-innovation-spanish.pdf

2 https://www.marketingdirecto.com/digital-general/healthcare-pharma-marketing-thinking/el-llamado-doctor-google-ya-tiene-mas-pacientes-que-el-medico-de-cabecera

3 http://www.smartandhealth.com/index.php/component/content/article?id=476:tecnologias-digitales-salud

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