The pharmaceutical industry is facing a multitude of political, regulatory, and financial uncertainties in and beyond 2018. But there’s one thing I know for sure about pharma’s morphing business model: it’s that patients are playing a growing role in the industry’s future well-being. That is, if the industry can meet health consumers where they want to be met.

Patients want more communication and support from pharma companies, a new study from Accenture found. In fact, over one-third of patients tell their health care providers about pharma patient-service programs: this chart from Accenture’s study illustrates the top seven ways providers hear or learn about patient services offered by pharma companies.

Patients want more services from pharma companies, a topic I recently discussed in a paper for Progress, The Future of Consumer Health Engagement in Pharma Enabled Through the Cloud. Several market forces are fostering the opportunity for pharma and life science companies to more closely engage with patients, leveraging the enterprise health cloud.

Patients are taking their health and healthcare into their own hands in a growing DIY, self-service culture. This is particularly pronounced among Millennials, but advancing, too, among patients who want to more effectively manage chronic conditions in partnership with clinicians and health care product suppliers.

Patients, now health consumers, also expect respect: via the best customer service experience they can recall. Enchantingly-designed user experiences create new expectations from other consumer touchpoints – including health care interactions. This expectation is especially acute when the patient sees herself as the payor: for high-cost specialty drugs, and as health plan members exposed to high-deductibles and coinsurance shares for prescription drugs and therapies.

Feeling respected, in fact, has a hard return-on-investment: Altarum Institute’s research found that patients dealing with diabetes were half as likely to be adherent to medication when they did not feel respected by their health providers.

Consumers also lack trust with pharmaceutical companies when it comes to being a trusted source of health information. Compared with hospitals and doctors, the most trusted sites for health information, pharma companies rank last, via dotHealth’s survey.

Healthcare suppliers that put on design-thinking hats and prioritize consumers’ experiences with their personal health care will curry favor with patients who are growing their health care consumer and patient self-care muscles.

Central to this smart patient paradigm is information – not just data points generated via a wearable devices on a wrist, or lab test results — but actionable advice based on a person’s own health-and-life-flows.

Increasingly, data that’s important for picturing the full view of a person’s daily life will be generated beyond the electronic health record feeds. Data will flow from a patient’s home via Internet of Things-connected appliances and sensors, personal digital assistants like the Echo Dot (the top-selling electronic device during Amazon’s 2017 holiday gift-giving season), and mobile devices. (For more on this phenomenon, stay tuned to my coverage all next week while I’ll be writing live from #CES2018).

How can pharma and providers connect with this promise? One key technology strategy is to work through a versatile enterprise health cloud (EHC) to corral, mash up, and analyze data, providing actionable advice and ‘nudges’ that consumers can use to maintain and improve their health. EHCs can simplify interoperability – a huge challenge for healthcare suppliers and providers – liberating data to be “liquid” and move into applications. EHCs also streamline development allowing new apps and tools to quickly reach patients’ hands for clinical trials and self-care.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  Read more about enterprise health clouds in my white paper for Progress, highlighting how using real-world evidence for patients with MS and IBD helps people better manage their conditions. Furthermore, leveraging a health cloud can simplify development at the backend, lowering costs and fast-tracking delivery of apps and tools that patients need sooner, not later.

Adopting this approach can result in a Triple Win for pharmaceutical and life science companies, healthcare providers, and most importantly patients – on the road to achieving the Triple Aim.

A version of this post is linked at the Progress website here.