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Achieving Value from Pharma Depends on Supporting Patients in the Final Steps of a Drugs Long Journey

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A drug’s journey from inception to ingestion is an odyssey. It can take decades and requires the top minds in science, technology and business to move a new drug from discovery to market. Yet the final few steps of the journey can be fraught with failure. Nearly one third of new prescriptions go unfilled; half of people that start taking a medication do not continue taking it as prescribed; and approximately 30 percent of prescriptions that get filled once do not get refilled.(Annals of Intern Medicine, Centre for Health Transformation, Script Your Future.) Achieving value from the immense investments in pharmaceuticals ultimately depends on patients and their decisions to fill their script and take their pills as prescribed.

Taking medication as prescribed is at once easy and difficult. The reasons we decide to take, or not take a medication are personal and complex. Taking a pill might simply slip our mind, or we might doubt the drug’s efficacy. We could be anxious about side-effects, or we might not like the regular reminder that we have a condition. And the associated lifestyle changes that would optimize the effectiveness of a treatment can be challenging for us to adopt. Some of us will choose the short-term comfort of familiar habits over the potential long-term benefits of better health and wellness. We are generally guided more by our own psychological inertia than a rational appreciation for the wonder of scientific innovation a drug can represent.

What can help to ensure we take medications as prescribed and realize their intended benefit? What role can pharmaceutical manufacturers – who invest so heavily to discover, develop, and bring new drugs to market – play to help us fill and refill scripts, and start and stay with our medication regimes? There are many proven practices. Education, self-care training and one-on-one follow-ups can increase adherence by 21 percent and make patients twice as likely to refill prescriptions. Pharmacist-led discharge counselling has been shown to improve adherence among elderly patients by 43 percent. Motivational interviewing and follow-ups can improve the likelihood that patients will take their medications by 13 percent.

Powering these programs with better technology will certainly improve efficiency and effectiveness. Today’s leading technologies could also enable transformative models of patient support. We know that patients accurately retain only 10 percent of what of healthcare professionals share with them. If education and discharge counselling improve adherence, imagine if a patient could revisit a multi-media recording of the patient-provider consultation and share it with anyone they trust to support them. If motivational interviewing and one-on-one follow-ups improve adherence, imagine if there were a high-touch, low-cost solution that enabled personal health coaches to continuously monitor, encourage and support large cohorts of patients.

NexJ Connected Wellness delivers these solutions today. It has been tested in more than twenty independent research trials. It can transform impersonal generic information into personalized, multi-media patient visit records that help patients and their caregivers understand how and why to take their medications. Connected Wellness can also help turn a patient’s anxiety about adopting new routines into confidence that they are being supported every day with the right motivation and encouragement.

NexJ Connected Wellness helps to ensure a drug’s odyssey ends in achieving its intended value for patients, providers and payers. To fall short in the final steps of a drug’s long journey is a colossal waste of resources past and present: the scientists, technologists, business leaders and investors who worked to bring an effective drug to market, and the providers and payers who will waste time and money addressing the impacts of poor adherence. Achieving value from our investments in pharmaceuticals ultimately depends on supporting patients as much as possible to fill, take, and stay with prescriptions that will help them be as well as they can be.­