Patients Speak: Is how I’m feeling about biomarkers normal?

Last month’s Quadrant Query highlighted the top biomarkers physicians are discussing, and both the patient benefits as well as the complexities to the healthcare system introduced by incorporating biomarker testing to the disease diagnoses.

However, physicians are not the only ones discussing biomarkers, and the ability to collect unprompted feedback from a broad spectrum of patients—rather than potentially more limited samples from surveys, panels, and focus groups—is one key advantage of the AI and natural language processing algorithm driving our research. From this research, we see that in naturally occurring online conversations, patients tend to favor discussing biomarkers in the context of disease prognosis, rather than around any specific treatment selection.

As pharmaceutical companies increasingly embrace customer-centricity, understanding the emotional impact of biomarker testing and its results on patients can be critical not only in developing appropriate messaging and communications around different products, but also in designing value-added services that can truly make a difference in patients’ lives by addressing their highest unmet needs.

Biomarkers and the therapies that target them are not panaceas, even for the diseases where they have already demonstrated improved outcomes for patients. Biomarker testing is a new and evolving science, and as healthcare institutions evolve to incorporate new steps into patient diagnoses, the time between a patient’s initial referral to a specialist, to finally having comprehensive and actionable biomarker insights grows alongside the number of tests that must be done. And, after what can seem like a prolonged period of waiting for biomarker test results, some patients ultimately test negative for a given set of biomarkers—and thus find the latest innovative therapies still out of their reach.

Our growing understanding of biomarkers gives us an additional tool with which to develop new therapies to fight disease. While today biomarkers still do not address every disease type or every patient, they are unlocking growing numbers of clinical trials which can help us identify more actionable mutations in the future—in cancer, and beyond.