Before COVID-19, consumer-facing digital health grew as a logical extension to traditional healthcare. With the growing recognition that location-based, in-person services were fundamentally limited in their ability to reach patients widely and often enough, especially in the prevention and management of chronic disease, the ubiquity of laptops and smartphones presented a fruitful opportunity.
As a result, patients now benefit from digital health education platforms, disease-specific communities, and new ways of communicating with providers—among countless other advances—that serve to enrich the health and wellness experience and improve clinical outcomes.
Now and into the post- COVID-19 future, with a sharply decreased volume of in-person visits, digital solutions are even more of a must-have rather than simply a nice-to-have as an extension of traditional care.
Particularly in the setting of chronic conditions requiring daily medication—and potentially a lifetime’s worth of ongoing refills—an annual visit with a prescribing physician can fall short of what is required to sustain the motivation and momentum needed to drive long-term adherence.
ZS Associates recently published an important report on COVID-19’s impact on healthcare delivery with a focus on how pharma can “prepare their organization to address customer needs during the crisis and in the post COVID-19 world.” Their report is based on survey responses gathered online during April 16 – April 23 from the following respondents: 388 physicians, 432 patients, and 31 hospital administrators.
What they found was that the effects of COVID-19 on standards of care have been monumental. Patient visits are down 35%, creating a wave of not only compromised care with a threat to clinical outcomes, but also of curtailed healthcare revenues that affects every facet of the industry. Relevant to pharma [see figure below], new diagnoses, prescription starts, and drug switches are down as patients choose to forego care out of fear and caution. Now and for the foreseeable future, with revenue from new starts down, maximizing revenue from existing patients via increased adherence becomes even more critical (not to mention important to the patients themselves, of course, as a key pillar in driving optimal outcomes).
Regarding ongoing adherence, surveyed physicians estimate that “compliance to estimated dosing regimen” is down around 10% with COVID-19. (We would add: down from notoriously poor baselines.)
At HealthPrize we’ve watched our clients’ patient support programs closely since mid-March and can report this: Although the ZS report tells us that every stage of the treatment journey across the board, including adherence, is compromised by COVID-19, patients enrolled in HealthPrize programs have either maintained or increased their self-reported adherence since the beginning of quarantine [see figure below].
Interestingly, a greater reliance on remote care is likely a lasting element—maybe even a rare silver lining—of the sea change brought about by COVID-19. Many patients enjoy the convenience of telemedicine, and most physicians are happy to oblige as they are now more likely to receive deserved reimbursement. In addition to telemedicine, fifty percent of MDs ranked other digital health solutions as a top 3 most helpful support mechanism for their practice [see figure below].
HealthPrize is a perfect example of a digital health solution that pharma can offer as a helpful support mechanism.
By offering a HealthPrize adherence program alongside a medication, pharma offers the ability to extend both health education and adherence support to patients on a daily basis, which is even more critical when care is remote and increasingly stretched thin. HealthPrize’s direct-to-patient adherence programs, then, are not only a win-win for patients and pharma, but a triple win when taking the physician into consideration. And in a post-COVID world, healthcare needs all the wins it can get.
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