The digital transformation the healthcare industry is going through brings with it the inevitable question for pharma; what is the return on investment for digital health projects? Unlike drug products, a digital health product's ROI is not always a direct financial one. Instead, its value is more linked to factors such as accelerated patient onboarding, offering differentiation to enhance patient and provider preference for therapy, and improving engagement, adherence, and persistence. Furthermore, as more patients engage with a digital health solution, more real-world data is collected which supports real-world studies to better understand the disease and the experience of patients on the therapy.
For pharma companies to achieve these goals and realize the true ROI of digital health initiatives, they must build the right solutions, ones which are aligned with and support their company objectives, and crucially, are customizable, to allow them to address specific company, brand, user, therapy, or device requirements. This customization can offer personalized care to patients, support engagement, and provide the proof of effectiveness required by value-based care models, significantly enhancing their value proposition and positioning them strongly in healthcare systems that are increasingly prioritizing value-based care models.
The first step is establishing the right digital health solution – customization is key
Pharma companies partnering with S3 Connected Health to create digital health solutions avail of our comprehensive end-to-end process. This involves collaborating closely with our team of digital health experts to define the pharma company’s digital health strategy, align it with the broader company objectives and strategies, and pinpoint unmet needs among patients or stakeholders that can be effectively addressed through innovative digital health solutions. This approach helps identify what is the optimum digital health strategy for the pharma company, partnering with existing solutions where these are available, and only building digital health solutions if these are necessary to differentiate their overall offering in the market and enhance their competitiveness.
If the chosen strategy is to build a digital health solution, the resulting solution should be designed to have a meaningful impact on patient experience, adoption, persistence, and ultimately outcomes, thereby driving value for the pharma company. This is achieved by creating customizable solutions that pharma can tailor to meet the specific needs of individual patients, care teams, payors, and pharma themselves.
Long patient and care team adoption and persistence with the digital health solution are key to generating a return on investment. Solutions must have the ability to cater to diverse patient profiles – for example, the needs and behavior barriers experienced by a 30-year-old new mother recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, are significantly different to a 50-year-old person at risk of heart attack due to a genetic risk factor, and different again from a teenager taking growth hormones while trying to fit in with their friends and school work; while also taking into account the different needs and preferences of the clinicians and care teams who treat them.
Such solutions can encourage patients to take a more active role in managing their own health and become more engaged with their treatment, resulting in better outcomes. Clinicians can benefit from solutions that provide insights into how individual patients are performing against their care plans. Patient support programs (PSPs) can triage patients by how they are doing against their care plans and their therapy, and leverage customization to provide tailored resources and interventions that address the unique challenges faced by different patient populations. Payors can benefit from real-world evidence of increased therapy adherence, which will progressively lead to evidence of outcomes and better targeting of patients to therapies that work for them. Over time, pharma companies can gather valuable insights into patient experiences and treatment outcomes, enabling the development of more effective therapies.
How Affinial creates customized digital health solutions
In our 20+ years of creating leading digital health solutions, we recognized that even though digital health solutions need to be customized in order to meet patient needs and business goals, they also share common core features. We distilled our accumulated experience of creating digital health solutions that scale, and created the Affinial digital health platform to provide pre-built versions of these features and services developed using industry best practices. Affinial has been developed in accordance with S3 Connected Health’s ISO13485/ISO27001 Information Security Management System in the areas of support and delivery of cloud-based systems by Managed Service Operations business, certified QMS, which fully implements IEC62304 and FDA guidance so that pharma does not need to develop or invest in their own software as a medical device (SaMD) QMS.
Affinial then facilitates the customization of those features and services to specific company, brand, user, therapy, or device requirements, so that pharma can create a differentiated solution. The range of services includes user management, personalized care plans, adherence monitoring, eConsent, clinical care coordination, data-driven interventions, and more. This is key as it provides the capability to personalize the patient’s experience and adapt to the different needs of other users and personas who are managing the condition and treatment regimen.
Affinial’s digital health services also support patient onboarding, training, and support to address individual patient needs during the critical onboarding phase when patients are getting used to being on the therapy, potentially going through titration, and managing side effects. The platform facilitates ongoing patient support and allows for timely interventions to ensure adherence to the treatment plan.
And all this is done with significantly lower development costs for the pharma company, compared to developing a bespoke solution. Availing of Affinial also reduces the burden on pharma to have the dedicated skills within lean global teams, as S3 Connected Health takes on the complexity, leaving pharma to focus on their core expertise.
Operating and evolving solutions with Affinial's managed services
When it comes to roll-out, having a customizable solution that can be tailored to meet specific regulatory needs, as well as adapt to individual patient journeys and treatment plans, across diverse countries and regions with varying regulations will be key to the success of the solution.
Affinial's managed services (which are compliant with ISO13485 and ISO27001 Information Security Management System in the areas of support and delivery of cloud-based systems by Managed Service Operations business standards) enable compliant solution operation. The platform ensures that the solution keeps up to date with best practice in addressing cybersecurity threats and ensuring ongoing compliance with changing laws (such as new privacy legislation). Pharma also benefits from shared learnings, leveraging Affinial releases to gain benefit from improvements made that support the entire customer base, reducing the time and cost to implement product updates.
The Affinial platform provides valuable insights via usage and content analytics, enabling a deep understanding of which components of the solution are effective for different patient cohorts and which may require adjustments. The emerging prominence of value-based care models places a greater burden on pharma companies to demonstrate proof of effectiveness. Affinial can be a valuable tool for this, offering compliant business analytics to track the solution's performance, providing transparency to internal stakeholders (including brand franchises, countries, medical affairs, market access, and patient support programs), and reporting to external stakeholders such as payers in alignment with value-based care models. With the accumulation of more data, Affinial empowers predictive analytics and risk profiling. This data helps identify how different patient cohorts respond to the service, enabling informed decisions and further enhancing value-based care models.
Of course, successfully evolving the solution, aligning it with changing patient needs to secure and retain product-market fit, and then scaling it is key to achieving an ROI on your digital health service. Affinial helps companies to scale digital health solutions geographically, with the ability to manage differing compliance and data management regulations in various regions. The platform also provides the ability to replicate the success of solutions built on Affinial across other business units within the company, expanding the digital health strategy across the broader product portfolio. After building a digital health solution on Affinial, it can iterate with new learnings, experience, and any assets developed can be further applied to additional disease areas and therapies, improving the ROI by reducing the innovation cost for each new solution.
In this learning series on Affinial, we are taking a deeper look at several features of our platform, including:
- How Affinial provides the building blocks for creating customized, regulated solutions
- How Affinial helps ensure compliance with ever-evolving cybersecurity requirements and keeps patient data safe
- The role Affinial plays in improving patient and clinician engagement
- Developing Affinial's behavior engine: The role of dynamic nudges in therapy adherence
If you would like to learn more about how Affinial helps pharma companies create customizable digital health solutions that help them deliver on their overall strategy, get in touch with us, or request a demo of the platform with one of our digital health experts