Encouraging Patient AdherenceWed, 09/09/2015 - 13:06
Transformations in the drug distribution segment demand innovative and cost-effective models to be implemented. Among the challenges that patients with chronic and degenerative diseases face, adherence to treatment is perhaps the one that companies address the least. In fact, very few organizations focus on teaching patients how to stick to their treatments, which are practically useless if not taken the right way. IntegraMed was created with the aim of providing patients with personalized services consisting of drug dispensation by unit dose according to physician’s prescription. Every patient receives specialized attention from the company, which monitors drug doses and adherence to treatment according to prescription. In this way, patients miss fewer doses and have an ally who can listen to their problems regarding difficulties in following the treatment. According to Juan Woodworth, Director General of IntegraMed, the company’s goal is to be recognized as the most cost effective pharmacy in the country.
IntegraMed currently provides services to banks, insurance companies, and government. Woodworth explains “the adherence program for patients with chronic diseases is aimed to improving adherence to medication, and our services offer customers an advantageous tool to restrict expenditure on medications.” This program also helps avoid hospital treatment costs or expenses resulting from failed medication or treatment adherence. It also helps in reducing drug expenditure, which annually increases due to the majority of patients seeking different treatments when they do not perceive the results they expected. As out of pocket spending makes up a significant part of drug expenditure in Mexico, models like this represent an effective measure for both patients and insurance companies.
Organizing the structure to monitor every patient in the program and measuring treatment adherence are two things difficult to imitate in this model, and IntegraMed has become an expert in both of them. Woodworth goes into detail on how they manage the program at the patient level: “We assign a specialist to monitor each patient. This contacts the patient to verify continual use of the medication at the correct dose as prescribed by the doctor, and reminds of any appointments and delivery of their medication.” Shipment of medicines is controlled always considering expiration dates. Moreover, the program is complemented by specialists in pharmacotherapy who support each patient according to their condition. Monthly quality assessment of the service they provide is also valuable tool to keep track of customer satisfaction.
IntegraMed offers up to 50% savings on medicines. With the main suppliers being the major drug distributors for the pharmaceutical industry that can meet strict delivery time requirements, Woodworth believes this is a way to ensure only high quality medicines authorized by the Mexican authorities are provided. “We also use a special packaging for all medicines we distribute,” Woodworth says. Patients should be able to recognize when security seals have been violated and get used to checking expiration dates and the authenticity of the medicines they buy and receive. “Mexico lacks a culture of packaging and labeling reading that makes falsification issues more likely to happen,” Woodworth states. He goes on explaining “our packaging solutions are completely designed to avoid such situations.”
Institutional pharmacies face the challenge of supplying medicines to a large volume of patients in a time sensitive manner. This kind of service is better managed by thirdparty companies, usually called integrators. IntegraMed acts as an integrator since it provides whole solutions to pharmacies, including purchase planning aimed at avoiding shortage of medicines. Woodworth points out “only when this is inevitable, do we activate the home delivery service in a period not exceeding 24 hours so as to fulfill the promise of providing complete drug treatments to patients.”
Finally, IntegraMed plans to cover at least six more institutional pharmacies in order to grow the number of patients enrolled in the adherence program and pharmacotherapy follow up. To achieve this, the company expects to grow its operating capabilities by 600% in order to offer such program to more patients with chronic illnesses. “Added value services in whatever industry are here to stay,” Woodworth affirms, “we are not only offering cost effective solutions for insurance companies and hospitals, but truly encouraging patients to adhere to their treatment plans,” he concludes.