Pharma and patients are on the way to building real relationships. That has the patient at their center, supports the doctor’s work and delivers data driven value for all sides. The vision sounds promising.

Let’s look at this promised land through the lens of adherence. Currently, non-adherence is costing the pharmaceutical industry $637bn in lost revenue annually (1). An impactful digital solution can make patients healthier by improving outcomes, lighten doctors’ workload and help pharma companies recover some of the lost revenue potential. Everyone wins.

Pharmaceutical company AbbVie provides a partially digital patient support program to assist adalimumab-treated patients with a range of services (in detail: medication costs, nurse support, injection training, pen disposal, and medication reminders). The PSP is provided via an online platform and nurse ambassadors called for one-to-one phone conversations. 2,386 subjects participated and were divided into two cohorts, a PSP (n = 1,119 subjects) and a non-PSP (n = 1,187) group. During the follow-up period, adalimumab adherence was 14% greater in the PSP cohort than for the non-PSP cohort (67.0% vs. 58.8%; P < 0.001). Disease-related medical costs were 22% lower for PSP than for non-PSP patients ($8,001 vs. $10,202; P = 0.045) (2).

One step further: Wefight Inc. designed a chatbot (called Vik) to support breast cancer patients. A study about the impact of Vik included 958 subjects. 88.00% (843/958) said that Vik provided them with support and helped them follow their treatment effectively. The treatment reminder function also showed positive effects. The average compliance of patients using the medication reminder feature improved by more than 20% (3).

Digital adherence support should work like a behavioral coaching program. And it can go beyond what human support can offer. A digital solution should be just as easy and intuitively to use as having a conversation. And it could be available on demand 24/7 and adapt to each patient individually. Now, more than ever, chronically ill patients sheltering at home need personal support and connection. 

Sharing the same diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean patients are the same. Each patient should be able to decide which kind and amount of support they need at any given point on their journey while of course receiving reliable quality information. A digital companion should allow patients to keep track of their progress and communicate to their doctor about it. Ultimately, therapy success should be trackable along real world outcomes on an individual level. These insights should be fed back into the program which adapts to patients’ needs and allows pharma companies to make value based arguments for reimbursement.

Pharma’s commercial environment is changing. Providing a product or service is no longer enough. To secure pricing and reimbursement pharma will have to provide real world outcomes data to back any claims about a medicine’s superiority. This requires three critical steps. We will explain them in our next blog posts. And outline how digital patient support fits into the equation.

Stay connected, stay healthy!


P.S.: Ariana is the patient engagement platform for the pharmaceutical industry – get in touch to learn how she does it.

1 Matthius, A. (2019). New study finds increasing adherence can boost pharma’s revenue. (
2 Rubin DT. et al. (2017) Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy: 23(8):859-867. Impact of a Patient Support Program on Patient Adherence to Adalimumab and Direct Medical Costs in Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, Psoriatic Arthritis, and Ankylosing Spondylitis. (
3 Chaix B, Bibault JE, Pienkowski A, Delamon G, Guillemassé A, Nectoux P, Brouard B. When Chatbots Meet Patients: One-Year Prospective Study of Conversations Between Patients With Breast Cancer and a Chatbot. JMIR Cancer 2019;5(1):e12856