This global pharmaceutical company has spent nearly a century preventing, treating, curing, and stopping some of the world’s most devastating and complex diseases.
A serious, progressive disease with no cure, pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is one critical area of focus. The organisation is focussed both on prolonging survival and on improving quality of life for patients living with PAH.
To achieve these aims, the company recognises the need to work closely with patient communities, to better understand their experiences and challenges and create more valuable healthcare solutions that truly put patients first.
It was in this context the organisation approached merakoi, to understand and address a significant persistency problem with a drug for the treatment of PAH. Low persistence rates had been ongoing despite major efforts to resolve, including running over a dozen patient support programmes.
The organisation needed to truly understand and tackle the root causes of poor persistence – and they didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. They needed a practical solution that could accommodate different regional market needs, regulatory requirements, and existing solutions infrastructure.
That’s where merakoi came in.
Collaborative sprints with the people who matter most
merakoi curated a Patient Experience Panel (PEP) of five patient experts within the pulmonary arterial hypertension disease area, running multiple agile sprints over three months. These patient experts combined personal drug-specific experience with deep expertise in patient advocacy and experience working on digital healthcare solutions. The panel also had good representation across diverse patient communities, to ensure findings were relevant across the drug’s user base.
The first phase of this project was discovery. Supported by an in-house merakoi healthcare strategist with 20 years’ experience, the PEP led a series of global workshops with PAH patients, the client, and healthcare practitioners to understand patient pain points and uncover unmet needs related to drug persistence.
4 sprints to tackle poor global PAH treatment persistence
We also conducted a complete global solution review to map how different regional teams currently support patients, with a comprehensive gap analysis to explore where those solutions hadn’t been working and why.
After synthesising and validating these findings, the next sprint involved plotting the ideal patient journey and experience, then co-designing a solution to support increased persistence. Integrating continual input from HCPs, we created high-fidelity prototypes of an app to address the patient pain points that lead to discontinued treatment.
Critically, this app was modular – allowing different regional teams to evolve and implement aspects of the product that make sense for them. Through the project we worked closely with stakeholders across the organisation to ensure the solution accommodated local differences in a practical way.
The third sprint was solution testing. The PEP led the creation of a panel of HCPs and patients from target patient populations, to test, validate, and refine the app prototype and in-app content.
Finally, the PEP formulated a value proposition for the app, to structure internal and external communications and drive adoption among patients and regional teams.
Reinventing patient support without reinventing the wheel
A profoundly collaborative process with the people who matter most, merakoi PEPs take patient engagement to the next level. This approach empowered the organisation to unearth uniquely deep insights revealing where and why current solutions hadn’t solved and co-design a pragmatic path forward.
After three months, the organisation had robust and clear recommendations from key stakeholders to improve treatment persistence. Crucially, these recommendations were also practical, mapping a path to collaboration across regional teams by accommodating local differences and integrating with current solutions.
These co-designed modules have now been adopted globally across regional teams, supporting the company to improve the lives of patients living with PAH. There’s unanimous support for replicating the PEP approach in the future.
“This was my first time co-creating digital content with patients and it has been a phenomenal experience seeing the level of ownership and passion that patient experts are able to contribute.”
Global Digital Content & Portfolio Manager, Cardiopulmonary TA
merakoi’s unique approach to patient collaboration empowers healthcare companies to become patient-focused in a whole new way.