The patient ecosystem

New research by global healthcare consulting firm Kantar Health has found that healthcare companies must work holistically to understand all angles and inputs of a given disease or condition, in order to improve patient care.

The findings, which were featured in the company’s latest Edge of Insight report entitled Patient Ecosystems: Understanding the Physical, Emotional and Social Impact of Health Conditions, provide insight into the patient’s relationship with their illness and drivers of behaviour.

“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,” said Jeanette Hodgson, global head of qualitative strategy at Kantar Health. “Qualitative research allows us to understand ‘why’ people do the things they do. By taking a multifaceted approach which layers insights from a range of methodologies and combines principles and practices from behavioural economics, social psychology and linguistics, we are able to offer a fresh perspective on what people say, what they do, how they feel and what they need, thereby creating compelling insights.”

Kantar Health said that while this initial piece of research is centred on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the methodology can be applied to any health condition. Critical outcomes of the research included: uncovering the emotional, societal and practical impact on sufferers; exposing the hidden nature of the condition and the desire of individuals to keep it hidden; identifying the cultural barriers to shifting perceptions; discovering what sufferers and advocates are doing to open up discussions around the condition; finding opportunities for intervention and ways to challenge the cultural narrative, including educating physicians and leveraging the power of patient advocates and bloggers; and pinpointing the areas of support and positive linguistic patterns that will break down barriers.

“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,” Hodgson commented. “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.”