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The pharmaceutical industry recognizes that consumer behavior is a key to both better individual health outcomes and greater business success, and has created a wide range of programs to engage and support patients who are taking prescribed medication. Patient needs, desires, and interests have become the focus of a sweeping movement toward greater patient-centricity at every stage – from drug development through launch and adherence – all designed to improve outcomes.

Behavioral Insights, a strategic solution at inVentiv Health Communications, recently completed a two-year ethnographic study of 30 American families to examine the social forces impacting individual health behavior. They found that life is messy. And helping people make and sustain behavior change, and engaging patients as they want to be engaged, means working within this context of messy lives. We are beginning to understand that the current “patient-centric” approach aimed at empowering patients to engage more fully in their care isn’t working. At least not as well as we’d like.

Exploring some of the key elements of social-centricity and understanding real-life obstacles to change in a deep and detailed way, this report identifies ways to create social-centric programs with a far higher probability of success.