This is why your patient engagement dollars are wasted.
A Patient (and consultant’s) Point-of-View on Patient Services
Imagine, as a patient, you leave the doctor’s office having been diagnosed with a chronic disease. The treatment calls for heavy doses of medication and changed lifestyle habits. You pestered the doctor with what felt like hundreds of questions, yet still left with minimal confidence and uncertainty.
Along with that uncertainty, you left with a prescription, an informational brochure, a link to an educational video, and a number to call with any questions. While this is initially helpful, you quickly realize you need more…
You turn to Dr. Google. The list of side effects is overwhelming, and you ask yourself…
“Do I really NEED this medicine?”
Healthcare providers, pharma companies, and unfortunately each new patient becomes gruesomely aware of this scenario.
Pharma companies are trying to stop the problem, but in their efforts to provide support to physicians – while complying with ever changing regulations and still accommodating their dear payers – they forget about the reason the programs are needed in the first place: us, the patients.
So let’s talk about what we really need:
Support Me, Not My Disease
Training sessions with in-home nurses for complex medications are very helpful for the FIRST day (or days), but I quickly forget what I learned. The call center can answer some questions, but any of value are referred to my doctor, who is NEVER available on the phone. I feel alone, and it seems like no one understands what I’m going through.
Create support groups and educational resources for patients dealing with a similar situation – key word situation, not drug. Pharma tends to just focus on “how can I make patients take my drug properly” when the right question should be “how do I improve outcomes for patients dealing with diseases?”
The American Journal of Managed Care recently conducted a literature review and found patient support groups, where people have an opportunity to relate to others, tend to be an effective method for improving medication adherence.
Help Me Help My Doctor
I turn to my doctor for help, but my doctor doesn’t have time to answer all my questions and doesn’t always know where I can go to for support. Why aren’t doctor’s getting the message about the services offered to patients like me?
Today, when many medications are created equal, patient engagement programs serve as a differentiation, and healthcare providers need to carry that torch.
Seventy percent of doctors learn about new offerings through sales reps, but did you know that only 3 out of 10 sales reps discuss the value of patient services with their physicians? Even worse, most companies don’t prioritize sales rep training or tracking, so no matter what you do, physicians aren’t guaranteed to know. Simple enough – pharma needs to put more time (not just money) into their sales force.
Make Adherence Easier
I don’t always remember to take my medicine. Sometimes I can’t even remember if I remembered to take it. Not only is the disease taking a financial toll, but it’s taking a mental and physical toll as well.
Take advantage of technology – it’s so simple to make apps these days that not only reminds patients to take their medications, but can offer education, advice, coupons, etc.
A recent survey found chronic disease management and support for adherence to be the best uses for technology in PEPs, and more than 70 percent of healthcare professionals surveyed said an app is the best type of technology to achieve adherence.
Even when I do remember to take my medicine, I often skip a dose. Sometimes it’s laziness. Sometimes it’s because I feel depressed about my diagnosis. Sometimes I’m feeling great, and I just don’t think I need the medicine. I don’t think there’s much risk in missing a day or two.
Research shows when patients are properly educated and understand their conditions, they are more likely to adhere to treatments. Through our own research with patients, we’ve found many don’t know what comes along with poor adherence.
Effective education occurs by: limiting instructions to 3 or 4 major points during each discussion, using simple, everyday language when explaining diagnosis and treatment and adherence, supplementing oral teaching with written materials, and involving the patient’s family members/friends in treatment.