Robert Schooling

In our work, we often find ourselves asking the question: “What do patients value?” The answer may seem obvious – patients value products and services in health care that make them healthier. Of course, this is true, to a degree.  It is like saying that homebuyers value houses that provide shelter and don’t fall down. It’s necessary, but not sufficient. A range of rational and emotional factors ultimately influence the decision.

Each of us values health care products and services we receive through a series of mental processes that consciously and subconsciously evaluates costs and benefits. The result of those costs and benefits weighed against each other constitutes value.

Consider a simple example: should I get my annual physical this year?  The benefits would include peace of mind, the potential for early diagnosis of an illness and perhaps the opportunity to interact with a physician who treats me with compassion. The costs might include the time and expense of missed work, an out-of-pocket cost, my fear of them finding an undiagnosed condition or the discomfort of the exam itself. Ultimately, I must decide – but is that decision purely rational?  Probably not. It is the sum of my experiences, hopes, fears and emotions.

In all of our work—from policy formulation and advocacy, to communicating the value of a given product or servicewe routinely encounter the need to answer this question about what patients value. In health care, most companies aspire to be patient-centric. But to help a company become more patient-centric in a way that is differentiating from its competitors and actually advances its strategic business goals, first you need to capture patient perspective in an intentional, measurable and systematic way.

We designed the Patient Value Model (PVM) to respond to the needs we were encountering in our work. The PVM provides a quantitative model that can be measured over time with a particular audience to provide a roadmap and a benchmark for patient engagement. Also, by factoring perceived costs into the equation, it gives a more realistic and actionable picture of how patients ultimately make decisions and assess value. It’s impossible to understand what patients want without understanding what they don’t want and the impact that has on overall assessment of value.

The PVM was designed with input from patient leaders and experts in value and validated and tested with 1,000 patients representing a range of medical conditions. The model can be re-fielded to gather insights in specific target populations and demographics, such as patients in a particular therapeutic area or those who are taking a particular medicine.

Our hope is that organizations will use the model to improve the integration of patient perspective into every facet of their business – from the overall approach of the enterprise to product development and design, patient engagement and marketing and communications of products and services. By approaching patient perspective in a comprehensive and measurable way, organizations can gain insights into their customers and also hold themselves accountable to ensure they are meeting all the needs of patients.