Healthcare's 'third place'--patient-centered healthcare--is life science's future business focus, says E&Y

March 27, 2012

Latest annual Progressions report highlights the shift to healthy behaviors

Ernst & Young’s annual exercise in high-level thinking about healthcare trends, the Progressions report, has two interesting changes: the scope of the report has gone from the biopharma industry to life sciences overall; and the conceptual focus is what E&Y calls “the third place”: the patients themselves, and not the doctor’s office or the hospital.

In identifying the patient as the focal point, E&Y is encompassing longstanding trends like patient-centered outcomes and the healthcare consumer as a force in the marketplace. But it also highlights the trend toward healthy behaviors—diet and exercise programs, smoking cessation, better medication adherence—that are becoming the stick, rather than the carrot, in how health insurance and employer benefits are structured. The Third Place concept also builds on E&Y’s previous Progressions reports, which have defined a “Pharma 3.0” theme, in which the biopharma industry realigned around outcomes, patient outreach and new business models in drug development that bring the payer into the picture.

What will drive Third Wave life sciences businesses? E&Y sees three noteworthy examples:

- Next-generation social media--combining today’s fast-evolving social media channels with online intelligence to identify patterns and trends

-“Gamification” of patient healthcare involvement—picking up on the value of game-playing as a motivator and incentive for consumers to be engaged in their healthcare activities

-The “medicalization” of consumer devices, and the “consumerization” of medical devices—highlighting the increasing trend of using devices like smartphones as a healthcare connectivity component, or medical devices in the home that monitor and communicate health status to caregivers.

One of the flies in the ointment of this patient-empowered, hyperconnected future is the reluctance of many consumers to engage with life sciences businesses about their health status—the heavily built walls around patient privacy. But Patrick Flochel, E&Y life sciences leader, EMEA, says that the biopharma industry already has a model to follow—the close collaboration between manufacturer and patients that occurs in rare disease development, where patients have a hand not just in demonstrating outcomes of a product’s use, but also in how rare diseases are researched, and drug for them developed. “Change will come from consumers themselves wanting to engage with life sciences companies, rather than a regulatory change,” he says.

The Progressions report is available here.