Patient Ecosystems Reveal the True Impact of Health Conditions

by Jeanette Hodgson | Sep 12, 2017

In order to improve patient care, healthcare companies can no longer afford to view the patient in isolation, but instead must work holistically to explore all influences on a given disease or condition in order to gain deep understanding of behaviors and the motivators behind them.

By recognizing the complexity of human behavior and designing our research from a "Patient Ecosystem" perspective, which encompasses patients, their conditions and the many surrounding factors that influence how they relate to them, we are better positioned to gain unfettered insights into how we can communicate more effectively and provide more meaningful support. The Patient Ecosystem allows us to acquire deep insights into the patient's relationship with their illness and the drivers of behavior, which enables access to unique understandings through the lenses of individuals, but it also encompasses impactful socio-cultural and contextual environmental influence. These understandings hold the keys to fostering transformative strategies and driving change.

The Psyche of the Patient

The Patient Ecosystem takes us inside the psyche of the individual patient and provides an enhanced understanding about how a disease impacts that patient from a human perspective. Qualitative research allows us to understand "why" people do the things they do, and by combining principles and practices from behavioral economics, social psychology and linguistics, we arrive at a multifaceted research approach that offers a fresh perspective about not just what people say, but what they do and how they feel -- creating the most compelling insights into the factors that determine the relationships patients have with their conditions.

In Kantar Health's latest Edge of Insight report -- "Patient Ecosystems: Understanding the Physical, Emotional and Social Impact of Health Conditions" -- we employ a multifaceted research approach to achieve new and unique insights and understandings. This enables us to:

  • Deliver a deeper understanding of a condition from a human aspect, uncovering its impact on the individual person and showing how it relates to the way those diagnosed with it live their lives.
  • Explore the environmental and socio-cultural factors of a condition and how they can impact the individual sufferer’s experience.
  • Pinpoint ways individual sufferers seek information by looking at the sphere of patient influence, the influencer network, and the role of patient advocates and support groups.
  • Identify how patient support, services and communication can be improved to better meet individual sufferer needs and alleviate impact of the condition.

While the methodology can be applied to any health condition, ailment or disease, this initial piece of Kantar Health research is centered on Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a condition that is significantly underestimated in many ways but has a global economic impact similar to asthma, hypertension and congestive heart failure. Kantar Health found evidence that beyond the physical manifestations of symptoms, the emotional and psychological  impact that IBS has on an individual is equally challenging. The data also revealed that activity and work productivity impairment measures are significantly worse among IBS sufferers compared with non-sufferers in both the United States and EU, and that overall quality-of-life is significantly lower for IBS patients than for non-sufferers.

Our IBS Patient Ecosystem work clearly demonstrates the harsh reality of this globally prevalent condition that has enormous practical, emotional and societal impact on its sufferers. There's far more to the silent suffering of IBS patients than meets the eye, and closely examining the many factors of the Patient Ecosystem will be pivotal for achieving a greater understanding of the larger dynamics and improving patient care.

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