Thought Leadership

How Patient Engagement Technology Can Increase the Adoption Rate of Personalized Medicine

June 21, 2023

Virtual reality therapy. Prescription video games. Robotic pets. Technology solutions designed to increase patient engagement are getting increasingly innovative and hold tremendous promise for improving patient outcomes and helping pharmaceutical companies produce better, safer and more effective drugs. But there is also a potentially unforeseen benefit of what we like to call “Patient Engagement Technology 2.0”—the hope and promise that these solutions will become a catalyst for the adoption of personalized medicines. But first, a brief look at …

Where We’ve Been: Patient Engagement 1.0 Strategies

We all know that pharma companies have pivoted marketing strategies towards a patient-centric approach for years now. That’s not new, and the facts are pretty clear: People who take an active role in their treatment often have better outcomes than those who do not. And engaged patients help pharma companies produce better products, which helps companies become a trusted resource that enables healthy living. Wins all around!

Of course, global pharma companies – and those aspiring to be one – recognize establishing universal patient engagement strategies is not easy due to a variety of factors including cultural differences, healthcare infrastructures and varying regulations across North America, Europe and other developed and developing nations. Common elements of a current pharma patient engagement strategy include: 1) patient support groups, 2) mobile apps, 3) social media campaigns, 4) patient education programs and (5) wearable technology. From a regional perspective:

  • Online patient portals, mobile apps and patient education programs tend to be staples of North American patient engagement programs;
  • European patient engagement strategies tend to favor patient-empowering advocacy groups, although other engagement strategies named above are also used;
  • And, in developing nations, where the emphasis is on addressing basic healthcare needs and improving access to services, mobile clinics, telemedicine and community health workers take precedence.

Where We Are: Adoption Of Patient Engagement Technology Solutions Is Growing, But Challenges Exist

A recent research study estimates the patient engagement technology solutions market will grow annually at a 20% clip from its current $10 billion+ market size. Mobile apps, telemedicine and wearable devices are known technology solutions that are already proving to be effective patient engagement tools.

The growing need to find even more unobtrusive and simple ways for patients to engage in their health decisions will result in more innovative technology solutions. Enter Patient Engagement Technology 2.0 solutions.

Functionally these solutions will be designed to fit into patients’ lives even more seamlessly than earlier patient engagement tools. However, challenges may arise that question whether the solutions are technologically too advanced to be readily adopted. The successful implementation of advanced technology solutions will require a thorough understanding of existing patient behavior and decision-making often obtainable from behavioral science (BeSci) investigations. Such investigations would reveal a deep understanding of motivations and barriers with respect to advanced technology-driven patient engagement solutions, enabling pharma companies to develop effective communication messaging to drive adoption.

Escalent has been using secondary research to monitor developments in the pharma industry across the globe, and we have been watching five uniquely innovative technologies emerge:

  1. Virtual Reality Therapy treats a range of mental health conditions like anxiety and PTSD by enabling patients to create immersive, repeatable environments at their time and pace to develop coping skills.
  2. There are specialized Prescription Video Games to improve patients’ cognitive and motor skills development.
  3. Smart Inhalers help patients manage respiratory conditions like asthma and COPD. Embedded sensors track medication usage and provide patients with personalized feedback and reminders.
  4. Robotic Pets are being deployed in healthcare settings, particularly in geriatric care, to reduce feelings of loneliness, which can prolong recovery times.
  5. There are Software-Based Therapeutics designed to help patients manage chronic conditions like diabetes, depression and hypertension. The software creates personalized care plans for patients, provides educational materials, and remotely monitors their care.

Where We’re Headed: Patient Engagement Technology 2.0 Will Speed Adoption of Personalized Medicines

Personalized medicine tailors medical treatments to individual patients based on their genetic makeup, lifestyle, and other factors. However, the adoption of personalized medicine has been slow due to various challenges, including the complexity of genetic testing, data management, and patient education.

The newer breed of patient engagement technology solutions is a highway of two-way communication that is socializing patient behavior to freely give highly personal information in order to receive personalized care guidance. Is it much of a stretch to believe that by the time the challenges of genetic testing ease, patients’ behavior of engaging with pharma and other life sciences organizations on such a personal level could bolster trust among patients to share their genetic data with such entities? We don’t think so.

A survey conducted by the Personalized Medicine Coalition found that 79% of Americans were interested in personalized medicine but only 54% were willing to share their genetic data for research purposes. The prevailing thought is as patients become more involved in their personal care and become more comfortable sharing their personal medical histories to technology solutions, there is a growing chance that enough trust will be generated for patients to become more comfortable sharing their data for research purposes. Patient Engagement Technology 2.0 could therefore become a catalyst for the adoption of personalized medicines.

The New Norm for Patient Care?

The growing emphasis on patient engagement programs is a win for patients, healthcare professionals and pharma companies alike. Engaged patients live healthier lives, HCPs receive near-real time information to better serve their patients, and pharma companies receive timely aggregated patient feedback to produce better medicines.

As Patient Engagement Technology 2.0 seamlessly becomes a norm for patient care, will it also become the catalyst personalized medicine needs to become more mainstream? I suspect the answer will emerge within the next decade, but I think it’s going to be just what the doctor ordered.


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Learn more about the solutions that will spark adoption of personalized medicines.

Tim C. Taylor
Tim C. Taylor
Vice President, Life Sciences

Tim Taylor is a vice president in Escalent's Health & Life Sciences group, with more than 15 years of consultative experience. He has helped Life Sciences, CPG, and Sports & Entertainment companies minimize the risk of strategic business decisions and uncover new growth opportunities. With client- and supplier-side strategic consulting experience emphasizing new market access, brand positioning and optimizing operations, Tim is a relentless value provider and revenue contributor to industry-leading organizations. He earned a bachelor's degree in economics, business management from The City University of New York, CCNY.  Away from the office, Tim enjoys photography and is an avid cyclist.