Personal Patient Connections Generate Real-world Results

Contributed by:

Abigail Mallon, Senior VP, Innovation and Strategy, VMS BioMarketing and Jamie Burks, Portfolio Patient Solutions, UCB

NOTE: The content below contains the first few paragraphs of the printed article and the titles of the sidebars and boxes, if applicable.

pv1016_abigailmallonIn today’s plugged in, non-stop digital world, pharma brands are finding that helping patients create a personal, ongoing connection with a healthcare professional is a core catalyst for adherence to therapy, a more satisfying patient journey, brand loyalty, and — ultimately — improved patient outcomes.

Mounting evidence supports the value of a personalized, patient-focused approach, including live interventions, regular follow-up, and two-way communication as key to changing patient behavior. In fact, the National Community Pharmacists Association found the top predictor of adherence is a patient’s personal connection with a healthcare professional.1 In the case study detailed below, data showed that patients who engaged in educational calls with a Clinical Nurse Educator (CNE) stayed on therapy 19% longer than those who did not, and there was a 55% increase in prescriptions from HCPs who were exposed to the education program.

Nurse educators are a respected resource to build relationships and trust. The use of CNEs to deliver both patient and professional education is an effective solution being deployed by many pharma and biotech manufacturers when a complex disease state such as diabetes, RA, or oncology requires significant lifestyle or behavior change. Individualized, hands-on instruction is particularly important with administration of a new injection device.

Clinical Nurse Educators Bring Information to Life and Clinical Credibility

CNEs are licensed, credentialed healthcare professionals with additional specialized training to provide patient education around lifestyle and behavior modification. They act as health coaches, using a motivational interviewing style to personalize the conversation based on what is relevant to the patient, and they help patients overcome both emotional and clinical barriers associated with starting and staying on therapy. They help patients understand how the medication will benefit them, how it works, what to expect, and how to fit the regimen into their busy daily life. CNEs directly impact patient behavior by:
Understanding the patient’s perspective through a personal connection and two-way communication
Building patient trust and confidence to address the difficulties in making and sustaining healthy lifestyle changes
Facilitating self-management practices
Engaging the patient in decision making and self-accountability
Teaching goal setting and problem-solving skills

In addition to helping patients, CNEs provide education and product training to physicians, other prescribers, and office staff such as office nurses and medical assistants. Through peer-to-peer discussions, educators can create awareness and exposure to the patient support services offered by the brand.
Pharma sales leaders share the value of the clinical impact of the CNE in the field. A recent market research study of senior field leaders across 28 pharmaceutical and biotech companies found that CNEs are associated with clinical credibility and are viewed by healthcare providers as equals or peers, putting the provider and office at ease. 2

Pharma Companies Seek to Fill the Education Gap by “Meeting Patients Where They Are”

pv1016_jamieburksPhysicians are looking to pharmaceutical companies to help them keep patients engaged in their care. In fact, seven out of ten physicians in a Decision Resources Group Manhattan Research study either somewhat or strongly agreed that pharma companies must provide more resources and services alongside drugs and treatments to stay relevant in the emerging healthcare system.3

And pharma is responding by developing educational and support programs that meet patients where they are in their healthcare journey. Over the next two years, the vast majority of pharmaceutical manufacturers say they are raising their investments in capabilities in this area. In fact, almost all of the companies surveyed recently by Accenture (91%) expect to offer six or more patient services, up from 73% of those offering six or more today.4

“The nurses we partner with have the same philosophy as our core company beliefs, to ensure genuine empathy and treatment support,” says Jamie Burks, portfolio patient solutions, UCB. “We must continuously listen and hear feedback directly from patients, so we can evolve and improve our programs. Patients spend a limited amount of time with the doctor discussing their disease. As a company focused on the delivery of increased value, we are committed to supplementing that education to positively impact our patient’s experience.”

However, when patient support solutions are offered, traditional “one-dimensional” educational engagement must evolve based on a deeper understanding of where the market is going and what practitioners and patients want. Innovative, multi-dimensional solutions are needed as well as expertise in positioning digital strategies to support and even enhance live interaction. Human interaction remains a vital component of customer satisfaction: even in our digital world, 83% of US consumers prefer to deal with human over digital channels to solve customer services issues and get advice (77%).5

Case Study: Data Confirm CNEs Achieve Real-World Results

A nationwide network of CNEs provided an educational program to help patients and caregivers understand a complex disease and successfully start therapy on a new biologic entering the market. The program was designed to build a strong personal connection with patients to help them understand and embrace their diagnosis, appreciate what the prescribed medication does and why they need it, learn how to administer the medication, and become knowledgeable about support resources.  CNEs built upon the live training by providing ongoing coaching by phone at key milestones.  The same nurse followed up with the patient for each call, describing the purpose of the call, managing expectations, discussing available resources, and asking key questions to gauge compliance and address challenges or barriers to treatment.

Concurrently, CNEs provided a one-time physician educational interaction to introduce the product, its delivery, and its efficacy. For those offices that elected to train their own patients, a train-the-trainer approach was used for physicians and office staff that enabled them to successfully start patients on the product.

IMS Health performed an in-depth analysis of the effectiveness of the CNE program, measuring impact in two areas: patients’ persistence to therapy and physicians’ willingness to prescribe.6

Patients who opted in to a series of ongoing coaching calls with a CNE experienced immediate and sustained improvement in the rate of therapy adherence in the first six months.

Patients in the program stayed on therapy 19% longer than those who did not engage in calls.

An analysis of 925 physicians over a two-year period and 2,587 patients over a 180-day period yielded results that demonstrated statistically significant impact. Results demonstrated a 55% increase in prescriptions from HCPs exposed to the education program, resulting in a 15:1 ROI.

Additionally, patients highly rated the educational value of the program, with 92% saying they believed the medication was right for them, and 93% feeling motivated to start the product (23 percentage point increase from before the program).

Providing the right support services that meet both the physician and the patient needs had a strong impact on the manufacturer’s bottom line.

Being truly patient-centric means understanding, relating to, and meeting the needs of patients throughout their journey from diagnosis to treatment and beyond. The challenge is there’s not just one journey. Each is different depending on who the patients are, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. We need to understand patients’ psychological and emotional needs just as well as we understand their physical needs. A qualified and skilled CNE team experienced in building personal connections that matter to patients can help pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturers reduce barriers to treatment, improve medication adherence, build trust and brand loyalty, and boost patient satisfaction. (PV)

VMS BioMarketing is a leading provider of patient support solutions focused on empowering patients and healthcare providers through education, training, and ongoing health coaching. For more than 20 years, VMS has been dedicated to enabling CNEs to provide the personalized support necessary to help patients successfully start and stay on therapy. VMS clients include the world’s leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.
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Editor’s Notes:
1 National Community Pharmacists Association. Medical Adherence in America: A National Report 2013.
2 Schultz, E. Sales Force Perspective, The Power of a VMS Clinical Educator. Market Research Report, VMS BioMarketing. 2014.
3 ePharma Physician® 2014. Physicians to Pharmas: Provide Patient Services or Face Irrelevance. July 17, 2014.
4 Accenture. The Patient Is: IN Pharma’s Growing Opportunity in Patient Services. 2016.
5 Accenture. U.S. Companies Losing Customers As Consumers Demand More Human Interaction, Accenture Strategy Study Finds. March 23, 2016.
6 IMS Health study and VMS BioMarketing data on file. 2016.

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