Snyder discusses how digital tools are changing the ways that patients interact with doctors.
As chief digital officer at Eversana, Scott Snyder has direct experience with building digital platforms. He led the company's efforts to build its Direct-to-Patient model, which uses telehealth to improve the digital patient journey.
(MDT:) How are digital elements impacting the patient journey today?
Snyder: It’s the whole journey. When we think about the care journey starting way upstream, it includes awareness, education, and helping people understand what condition they might have, because some of these complex and rare conditions it’s tragically long (sometimes five to six years) to get diagnosed. How can we improve the education and awareness piece by using everything from more progressive content consumption, analytics to find patients who haven’t been diagnosed yet so we can bring them into the funnel faster? The next piece is really about personalized engagement. How can we engage patients and physicians that have those conditions in ways that are meaningful to them. To often, the industry has been comfortable with pushing content at people with a spray and pray approach.
We think it really starts with discovering the intents of the user, whether it’s a patient, physician, or caregiver, and work backwards to meet them where they are with the right content. What's the right medium at the right time? It’s about understanding not just that they’re out, but what is their context and situation, and what’s the best form of interaction that’s going to work for them. Once we’ve engaged them, how do we make sure that the HCP interactions and journey work in a synchronized way with the patient journey?
Today, a lot of the energy in pharma is spent on engaging the physician and pushing content at the physician hoping that they’ll prescribe the therapy to the patient instead of recognizing that there is a patient or cohort of patients who belong to this clinician and helping that clinician move his patients through the funnel faster and get them to the right therapy.
You can think of digital tools, such as tools that allow HCPs to educate their patients more effectively using mixed reality. Things like simple forms of synthetic video that can be personalized to the patient, or telehealth, which can reduce the friction for a patient to see a physician.
The last piece is using technology like AI to automate and augment human touch points. As the patient starts to get on board and into therapy, there’s all kinds of chasms to navigate. These include benefits verification, prior authorizations, enrollment in programs, or copay support (if it’s available to them). All those things can be digitized, and just like when we check out at our favorite retailer, all of it can be done with self-service on an app. We can’t do that yet in healthcare, but we’re moving toward that.
How do we augment that so when a patient does need a human support, with the best of AI so they know what the right action to take with that patient is? It’s going to help them stay adherent.
(MDT:) What obstacles or challenges do you face when connecting telehealth and digital patient journeys?
Snyder: There are some historic challenges, but some of those are starting to go away. One was that there’s two types of telehealth. There’s the version that health systems and corporations use to extend care they’re already giving so that it’s more efficient and convenient for patients. During the pandemic, that was huge. The other types of telehealth, which is newer and different for pharma, is the independent platforms. These use telehealth not only to screen and qualify patients, but to then move them onto therapy and the prescription stage.
When those platforms initially came out, there was a focus on retail products. There was a perception that it wasn’t for pharma, just for retail or lifestyle conditions. People were worried about driving tension with the health systems. Would these things be competing with the health systems? A lot of that got thrown up in the air during COVID, where the focus was just on getting people access to healthcare. There’s less of that friction because health systems are overloaded and they’re not fighting this as a competitor. Sometimes it’s even being encouraged if it allows a certain kind of patient to get care faster.
The second is just that people feel like they’re not seeing their doctor, just some independent doctor in the cloud. The credibility of it just comes with time. Nobody bought a car online ten years ago, now people buy the car online and it shows up on a flatbed the next day. It’s a different world and mindsets and adoption take time. I think we’re there with telehealth, it’s slowly moving into not just the retail products, but even in complex diseases. We’re even using telehealth for a rare disease condition where a patient that thinks they might have a certain condition can engage with a telehealth doctor and then get genetic tests ordered for them. They can then be routed to the right specialist to treat them. It’s not prescribing online but it’s helping screen and diagnose patients online and moving them the funnel faster.
(MDT:) How has working with KOLS changed over recent years?
Snyder: We just think of KOLS as influencers that have certain digital preferences and affinities. Obviously, certain clinicians skew very digital, some might be very different. The next generation of KOL mapping has to include digital preferences. We’re bringing that kind of affinity data to know which of these physicians engages through different social networks, and what are their digital social graphs compared to their human social graphs. That’s taken into account when we think about our own engagement models. For us, it’s the next evolution of what KOLs are going to be.
(MDT:) How will things evolve in the digital realm in the coming years?
Snyder: I always tell my CEO that my main job in life is to put myself out of a job. I seriously hope we’re not talking digital in two or three years and it’s just the way we do business. I hope we’re not talking about AI as a thing and it’s just part of the way that people reinvent or reimagine their jobs to focus on what they do best as humans and let the machines do the grunt work.