Share of Life™

Why are (most) patient-centric “beyond the product” solutions not successful?

At the most basic level, many digital “beyond the product” solutions sponsored by pharma fail because they are based on an understanding of users of Rx drugs first and foremost as patients, rather than as people. If you define the Rx user by the disease, you naturally focus at how you may support the patient in the management of the disease. That is a noble intent and necessary consideration, but often an insufficient perspective to substantially improve the life experience of people who suffer from a chronic disease.

Take the typical “disease insight” that physical exercises can be an important part of managing a given disease (e.g. in Multiple Sclerosis). This insight could lead to the conclusion that the healthcare company should develop relevant content, e.g. videos, with instructions uniquely tailored to the specificity of the disease in case. These videos would often be placed on a gated website. In terms of Behavioral Science e.g. as explained in Fogg’s Behavioral Model, the consumption of instruction videos increases the “Ability” of the person in case to do the exercises and thereby improve health.

However, what are the ingredients often necessary to “Motivate” people to exercise? There are many:

  • Society looks at exercise as a part of the “good and normal life”. Exercising in a public place, such as in a gym, is one way of displaying allegiance to this norm and to gain recognition by peers.-
  • Exercising with a friend or coached by a personal trainer both enjoy the impetus of mutual commitment and social gratification
  • Changing your environment to reduce opportunities to defect from exercising e.g. by going to the gym or run outside is a key ingredient in exercise initiation and completion
  • etc

Therefore, providing video driven instructions on a website for doing exercises suffice for some self motivated people, but it lacks integration into the existing “tasks” of “normal” life to appeal to Average Joe.

For integration into “normal” life, the healthcare company could, as an example, choose to facilitate the creation of Multiple SclerosisCertified Gyms. This would include partnering with fitness chain; training and providing certification of fitness coaches in the unique exercises relevant for MS patients at the different stages of the disease progression combined with “normal” fitness exercises; creating an ongoing feedback and quality assurance capability; collaborating on marketing with the fitness chain to drive relevant people to sign up, etc.

A Multiple SclerosisCertified Gym service is a simple example of how to embed your brand naturally in people’s current mode of existence — what we at Vertic describe as gaining  Share-of-Life.

In Vertic’s viewpoint the Share-of-Life approach is the paramount driver of success going forward. A Share-of-Life business model underlies “new” companies such as Google and Amazon.

So why is this not happening at scale in Healthcare when defining “beyond the product” solutions? The creation of MS exercise videos can be outsourced to an agency. It is project based, an one-off expense and simple to go about. A people centric approach such as embodied in the MS Certified Gym requires commitment to a program and on-going costs. And ultimately, new types of resources are necessary within the healthcare company and is far away from the company’s core competences from a classical perspective. In addition, a model for immediate monetisation is lacking. In contrast and notably, Fitbit has just bought Twine apparently to integrate everyday fitness optimization with the ongoing collection of health data and coaching within hypertension and diabetes.

The complexity of making “beyond the product” solution based on a Share-of-Life model is likely going to keep “old” pharma companies from experiencing substantial successes in this area. This is as long as influencing patient behavior is not seen as core to the overall business and monetization is not linked to the overall impact on the Quality of Life of the patient. Even in a time of significant moves towards Outcome Based remuneration, as predicted by many, a company which moves from Tech into Healthcare is more likely to claim the spot as the first Share-of-Life Healthcare Fortune 500 company.

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