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Cost of patient adherence

Increased collaboration, government reforms and advances in technology can all play a part in ensuring drugs are taken

A bottle of pills spilled onto some Euro notesThe growing concern among healthcare professionals and the life sciences industry around the lack of patient adherence to complete prescribed courses of medication and the associated cost repercussions have been highlighted in a recent report from Capgemini. The 'Vision & Reality Report 2011' looks at understanding the barriers to improving adherence and driving successful and profitable adherence programmes. According to the report, the average adherence rate drops significantly from 69 per cent for first filling of prescription, to a 40 per cent drop from the first prescription to continuous refill after six months.

In various reports over the last decade, several voluntary health organisations, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE), have identified poor adherence as a significant public health issue.

Increasingly, poor medication adherence is being recognised as a significant source of waste by the healthcare system and life sciences companies. The study estimates that non-adherence resulted in an incremental 194,500 deaths last year in the EU and significantly higher healthcare costs. Improved patient adherence offers huge benefits across the entire healthcare value chain and is beginning to generate renewed interest among companies, health authorities, payers and providers.

Capgemini Consulting's Life Sciences Practice recommends that the global healthcare industry implements a new approach to bring about the needed behavioural change in patients and the healthcare market and invest in long term solutions:

•  Healthcare industry involvement and collaboration
To improve patient adherence, increased collaboration between healthcare stakeholders is vital. Capgemini's research indicates that, historically, healthcare providers have been considered the most important force influencing patient adherence behaviour. Patient influence is expected to plateau though it will continue to evolve. Families will increasingly oversee treatment of elders, at a time when patient-to-patient influence networks will extend beyond the family circle. Pharmaceutical companies will need to fine-tune their programmes to help shape the way the healthcare system moves towards improved patient involvement through the collaboration chain.

•  Healthcare reforms
Government policies around the world are pushing towards patient empowerment and incentives centred around health outcomes to reduce healthcare cost. Patient adherence is one of the levers that health authorities are counting on to improve healthcare systems' effectiveness and efficiency. The UK's NHS system provides a platform for patient adherence by granting incentives and investing to improve adherence, while facilitating wellness and disease prevention. The reforms are orientated towards building a patient-centric healthcare system which will provide opportunities for life science companies to play an active role in making fresh efforts for adherence activities.

Digital health media
The digitisation of patient records will have a lasting impact on shaping the adherence landscape. Healthcare stakeholders will be able to identify the exact points in a patient journey where adherence ceases, identify root causes for such treatment cessations and create programmes to address them with the necessary tools. Along with the sharing of information through the internet and the growth of social media, these will be key trends that should be used to establish a closer relationship with the patient. Alongside this, patient advocacy groups now have a new way to expand their impact with new media emerging every day. Sharing takes place via social media platforms including Wiki encyclopaedia pages, social networks, blogs, podcasts and personal media such as Personal Health Records where people can create, manage and share (with authorised physicians) their personal health information.

•  Technology advancements
Technological advances allow smart interaction with patients, depending upon the desired level of involvement. Mobile applications can educate and engage the patient interactively, providing information on thousands of drugs and disease conditions and physicians can stay connected to patients and access health records on their phones. Pharma companies have invested in the manufacturing of smart pills that are due to reach the market in 2012. These contain a chip inside the pill, which records the time of ingestion and brings about patient adherence by informing the patient of the next medication period by communicating through a sensor, with the information uploaded to a smart phone or sent to the physician via the internet.

Other advancements have also resulted in interactive web games being developed to educate patients and subtly change their behaviour. Through playing the game, the patient learns about symptoms, drugs, side effects and other health precautions.

Looking ahead, pharma companies must look to innovate the patient adherence process radically. Rising healthcare costs have put severe pressure on life sciences companies, health authorities, payers and providers. In addition, recent initiatives in reforming healthcare systems to enhance quality and reduce costs have made it imperative for healthcare stakeholders to move beyond the traditional approaches and seek newer value-creating avenues. To truly make a difference, pharma companies need to lift the patient adherence lever. Success in this area will improve patient outcomes and decrease overall healthcare costs, while preventing millions being lost from revenue streams. Taking advantage of innovative technology will assist in building a new collaborative business approach, which is vital if patient adherence is to succeed.

Read the report via Capgemini's website.

Thomas Forissier - CapgeminiMark Holiday - Capgemini

The Authors

Mark Holiday (right) is managing consultant, Life Sciences Practice, and Thomas Forissier is principal, Life Sciences Practice, both at Capgemini

Related links:

10 ways to think about patient adherence

21st July 2011


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