Patient Adherence Through Personalized ServicesThu, 11/01/2018 - 17:05
Low patient adherence to medication regimes raises healthcare costs and reduces the efficacy of the healthcare system as a whole, says Alberto Wicker, CEO of Signufarma. Yet, neither the public nor private sector is seriously addressing the issue.
While great efforts are being made to bring doctors, hospitals and medications closer to a larger number of people, all these measures fail if patients do not take their medicine. “We believe in the efficacy of medications and that the significant investment behind them will lead to a positive effect for the patient,” says Wicker. “But whatever benefits patient could get from their medications will be lost if patients skip them.”
Low patient adherence is a significant problem. The journal US Pharmacy reports that about 50 percent of US patients taking medication for chronic ailments fail to adhere to treatment. Moreover, the failure to adhere to treatment accounts for up to 50 percent of all treatment failures and leads to 25 percent of hospitalizations in the US. Wicker believes that addressing low patient adherence is a simple strategy that will benefit patients, healthcare systems and medicine manufacturers.
Signufarma is a service provider for effective patient support programs that has worked in healthcare sector for 25 years. The company specializes in support programs that help patients adhere to their treatment and it also develops software to distribute pharmaceuticals to patients and programs to measure the quality of life of patients. Signufarma has worked with Roche, Amgen, Bristol Meyers Squibb, Novo Nordisk, Shire and AstraZeneca, among others, on developing programs to monitor medication use for many conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, oncological and rare diseases. Signufarma operates in Mexico and several countries in Central America, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, where it introduced programs that closely monitor patient experience and allows the company to offer several benefits specific to the patient’s therapeutic needs.
“We monitor patient’s adherence to treatment in the manner the patient prefers: phone, text messages, personal visits or social media. We have also developed a psychology department that studies the main treatment abandonment causes to develop contingency plans, emotional support lines and coaching. We also provide support to the patient’s family. No one is truly prepared to address a degenerative, chronic disease so our goal is to support them,” says Wicker.
To measure adherence, Signufarma developed software that monitors all steps of the patient’s journey and can predict points at which a patient might abandon treatment. “In these instances, we follow up with them directly so this can be avoided. For instance, if a patient misses a programed diagnostic test, an alarm flares up in our system and we contact them directly.” To achieve its goals, Signufarma created numerous alliances with retailers, clinical laboratories, doctors and hospitals. The company also uses social media to monitor patients and track their experience. As Wicker says, by knowing a patient’s wishes, Signufarma can personalize its solutions. “During the past few years we have used information from social networks and our own platforms to ensure that our solutions are convenient, accessible and liked by patients. Every patient is different so we are implementing mass customization to adapt our solutions to each patient,” he says.
The results speak for themselves, Wicker says, pointing to oncology as an example; the company’s software helped patient adherence increase to 94-95 percent. “We have also built formulas that allow us to measure the patient’s response to treatment and measure the treatments’ ROI. We also helped pharmaceutical companies to optimize their resourcing by helping them identify the areas that need more attention, for instance by educating patients.”
Signufarma began operations with treatments for hypertension and hypercholesterolemia but gradually expanded into areas in which it believes it could have a greater impact, such as medical specializations. “Eighty percent of our operations addresses medical specializations and the rest are geared to general medicine. However, this is about to change as the pharmaceutical sector is increasingly aware that it has to strengthen its brands to assure a return on investment.”