Blog / Flip the script: Change ROI to IOR and measure the impact of relationships with patients

Flip the script: Change ROI to IOR and measure the impact of relationships with patients

Cheryl Lubbert  -  7/10/2017

As we work to help biopharmaceutical and healthcare companies integrate the voice of the patient and transform their organizations by embracing patient centricity, we often hear a familiar question: “What is the ROI?” I know evaluating programs by their return on investment is customary and comfortable, but as we focus on patient centricity and people’s health, I suggest it’s time to ask a different question: What is the impact of relationships, or IOR?

I can guess what you are thinking now – that measuring the impact of relationships is “soft science” and not quantitative. However, if we look to the consumer and retail industry realms as they take the lead in navigating consumer expectations for 24/7 information, social media and evolving service and information access, we have found a number of key quantitative measures that can be applied in healthcare as well.

As we have evaluated measurable metrics, we found they fall into two categories as they apply to strong customer relationships: the building blocks that lead to strong relationships and benefits that result from strong relationships. Let’s explore the measurable impact of one key building block and one benefit of maintaining strong, positive relationships with consumers.

Key Building Block: TRANSPARENCY

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason that people have begun to push for transparency from businesses, but there are a multitude of factors that have likely contributed to this trend:

The global recession hit everyone hard and rocked people’s faith in the basic systems that keep our society afloat. Consumers have more choice than ever before, so it makes sense that they would be more comfortable buying products from a company they know everything about.

As other industries become more transparent, consumers will expect similar levels of transparency from healthcare companies. As a result, consumers are asking for more from companies with which they choose to do business. Transparency goes beyond simply being honest or free of deceit. The Business Dictionary defines transparency as a “lack of hidden agendas or conditions, accompanied by the availability of full information required for collaboration, cooperation, and collective decision making.” Again, the focus is on action.

Why does transparency matter? Because according to a Label Insight survey of more than 2,000 consumers, 40 percent say they would switch to a new brand if it offered full product transparency, and 81 percent say they would consider a brand’s entire portfolio of products if they switched to that brand as a result of increased transparency. In a time where companies are working hard to differentiate from their competition, real financial impact can benefit those companies and products that operate transparently with their consumers.

Key Benefit: TRUST


When companies have embraced transparency and other key elements and built strong relationships with their customers, the resulting benefits also have an impact on the bottom line. One measurable benefit is trust.

Our instant-access news cycle puts every brand stumble and company mistake in the spotlight, and we can see the instant impact of eroded trust in company share prices and negative media coverage. But how is established trust impacting the bottom line for companies doing things right?

Reputation management consulting firm Reputation Institute assembles an annual list of the world’s most reputable companies using its RepTrak® Pulse score, determined by evaluating the trust, esteem, admiration and feelings the general public has for the world’s best-known companies. The RepTrak Pulse score of 1-100 is based on online polls of more than 170,000 people in multiple countries, and it can be correlated to predict the effects of the score on stakeholder support.

According to Reputation Institute, companies with higher RepTrak Pulse scores are more likely to have their goods or services recommended by their customers. Improving a RepTrak Pulse score by five points can increase the likelihood of customer recommendations by 8.5%. For example, a score of 60-69 translates to 35% of potential customers willing to buy, but a score of 70-79 translates to 55% of potential customers willing to choose that brand.

IOR is Crucial for Biopharma and Healthcare Companies

It is clear that IOR – the impact of relationships – has the potential to have significant business impact for biopharmaceutical and healthcare companies. But we face many challenges in embracing this new norm.

Through our research, we have identified more measurable building blocks that lead to strong relationships, including empathy and two-way communications, as well as another measurable benefit, loyalty. In a series of surveys, we asked consumers how the biopharmaceutical industry is doing in all of the areas we have identified, with all of the results published in our white paper.

In summary, building strong relationships with patients, your consumers, will have a direct and measurable impact. When the biopharmaceutical industry is taking action to ensure that patient relationships are influencing all of their decisions, across all business functions, this is the definition of patient-centricity. Patients get the care they seek and deserve, and companies can benefit as well.

Click here to download a copy of our white paper
“From ROI to IOR: Measuring the Impact of Relationships with Patients.”

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