Patient Adherence -What can Pharma do?
For Pharma companies, adherence or lack of it, is undoubtedly a very major stumbling block to brand development and brand success.
Many types of initiative have been tried over the years, to try to improve patients adherence to prescribed therapy, with mixed results. Pharmacists have been shown to often be more successful than Nurses or Doctors in this arena, hence the launch in 2011 of the New Medicines Service (NMS) and targeted Medicine Use Reviews (MURs) through all community pharmacies in England. Yet these programmes by their very nature have to be quite “broad-brush” and cannot offer a very different service to different types of patient.
There is little doubt that adherence is a complex issue involving both psychology as well as pharmacology. Patients are consumers who have an illness, and their attitude to their well-being and what they are willing to do to maintain or improve their health varies considerably between individuals and also varies with the perceived threat of the condition suffered. Maladherence can usually always be justified in the patients minds, so to make progress on adherence patients emotions concerning their condition and their treatment need to be well understood, ideally at an individual level.
Whilst it is all too easy for healthcare professionals to solely blame the patient for non-adherence, patients can often be so overwhelmed by a negative diagnosis that they forget about the instructions given to them for improvement action.
As with all initiatives, you can’t change everyone’s approach and the received wisdom is that the groups to focus investment upon those whose attitudes and behaviours are easiest to influence, as some patients will always be mal-adherent. If you understand the different stages of mal-adherence in a therapy area, and understand the underlying feelings that the patients experience, then you can better target with adherence initiatives those groups with the highest potential to respond.
Finally, in order to be successful and remain successful it helps enormously if adherence programmes can be engaging and stimulating from a patient perspective. Patients need to understand “what is in it for them” and want to become involved because the programme pulls them in.
This is a subject area where Pharmacy Consulting Ltd, have some experience both on their own, and in partnership with Zaicom MMC.