Delivering specialty medication to patients who need it most has become painstakingly more difficult over the past several years. New regulations and increasing oversight of federal health insurance programs have resulted in lengthened time-to-therapy and delayed patient treatment.
This has led to patient nonadherence, which costs the healthcare system more than $300 billion annually.i An effective method to decrease patient nonadherence, reduce waste in the healthcare system and facilitate enriched patient care is to implement innovative technology into current healthcare systems.
Communication and Technology Gaps
The World Health Organization identified adherence as the missing link between initiating therapy and achieving successful patient outcomes. Adherence, which is actively taking and filling prescriptions on one’s own without close supervision, is complicated by the communication and technology gaps among the many stakeholders involved in the prescribing process.
Requiring a much more rigorous prescription process than traditional medication, specialty medications’ patient initiation processes include training, clinical follow-up, and other patient services that are only available through a specialty distribution channel.
Since the current specialty medication prescription process works within systems and processes originally created for traditional oral medications, it isn’t structured for the complexities of specialty medication initiation, leaving the entire experience slow and arduous.
This current process usually involves a manual, fax-based prescription and therapy onboarding process that exists outside of the Electronic Health Record (EHR), causing frustration, time delays and process gaps.
Healthcare Technology Platforms
To work around these challenges and improve time-to-therapy, companies are developing healthcare technology platforms to integrate the manual process with third-party systems through a workflow of configured services. These services include processes such as electronic Prior Authorization (ePA), electronic patient consent (eConsent), and electronic verification of patient benefits.
Companies developing these digital platforms to streamline the prescribing process are reducing the time-to-therapy that is instrumental to patient adherence. These digital processes can streamline the prescribing process by completing Patient Enrollment Forms (PEFs), while connecting all parties to one central location of patient information and status.
A streamlined process not only reduces nonadherence, but also reduces costs, closes communication gaps, alleviates the administrative burden for stakeholders across patient care and accelerates time-to-therapy. Overall, these digital workflows have proven to accelerate time-to-therapy for patients who need specialty medication by 45 percent.
Integrated Workflows vs. Traditional Processes
Recently developed digital platforms have demonstrated the impact EHR integrated workflows can have on speed-to-therapy and corresponding patient adherence. For example, an observational study of highly motivated women’s health patients compared abandonment rates for referrals using AssistRx’s iAssist platform, a configurable workflow of acceleration services for specialty and highly managed therapeutics, against traditional fax-based processes.
The study was completed over seven months and more than 52,000 patients were instructed to inject themselves on a weekly basis. The primary abandonment rate among patients whose referrals were completed through the workflow was 0.23 percent compared to 18.1 percent for referrals completed through the fax-based process.
Patients whose drug initiation was submitted through iAssist were 78 times less likely to abandon their therapy at the initial point of filling their prescription or after their first month of treatment.
More Dramatic Results
In another study, researchers studied the abandonment rates of 15,000 dermatology patients referred to their medication through the iAssist platform. Investigators completed a retrospective analysis of these patients for over six months and found dramatic results.
Drug requests initiated via a fax-based process had patients who abandoned their medication before being sent for fulfillment 60.4 percent of the time. However, patients with therapy referrals that originated through the iAssist platform had only abandoned their prescription 25.8 percent of the time, which demonstrated a 34.6 percent improvement in abandonment rates with the use of the digital platform.
The adoption of this technology on a widespread scale has the potential to improve patient compliance and adherence for millions of diverse sets of patients.
With nonadherence of prescribed medication resulting in 33 to 69 percent of hospital admissions and approximately 125,000 preventable deaths each year, finding a solution to patient nonadherence is imperative.i
Improving Treatment Outcomes
Healthcare technology companies are developing systems to improve patient compliance and adherence. These newly developed digital workflow technologies that integrate with EHRs are possibly the specialty and highly managed drug sector’s opportunity to reduce nonadherence, improve treatment outcomes and lower revenue losses within the healthcare industry. Investing in these electronic solutions not only benefits patients, but also the individuals involved across all healthcare parties.
Manufacturers, physicians, pharmacies, and insurance companies are part of providing patients with a collaborative, seamless experience that sets the tone for future patient care.
Digitizing the specialty prescribing process offers all stakeholders the opportunity to enhance the diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes for those living with these diseases, all while reducing costs and improving the patient experience.
About the Author
Amy Hatfield Seung leads clinical development and strategy at AssistRx. Previously, she was the Oncology Clinical Decision Support and Hematologic Malignancies Pharmacy Clinical Specialist at The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital where she also served as Director of the PGY2 Oncology Pharmacy Residency Program.
i AssistRx. (2017). Leverage Healthcare Technology Applications to Improve Primary Nonadherence. Retrieved from: https://www.assistrx.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/ARx-Adherence-March-2017.pdf