Bring Patient Voice Into Care To Improve Results, Cut Costs

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Specialty pharmaceuticals, such as those for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis, are among the priciest drugs available and frequently used to treat the most difficult chronic diseases. In addition to patients having to make lifestyle changes, routinely monitor their activity, receive routine lab tests, or undergo examinations to follow their progress and determine whether the therapy is helpful, therapies themselves can be complex and have serious adverse effects.

This routine and monitoring a patient’s progress can be difficult, especially in between rare doctor appointments. While prescription and medical claims are common traditional indicators of efficacy, they do not provide a complete picture of a patient’s health and condition. They don’t provide information on a person’s day-to-day performance, such as whether their symptoms are worse some days than others, whether they are having side effects, or whether they are meeting important condition management measures.

Because of this, it is crucial to incorporate the patient’s voice into their own care. In order to capture not only whether a patient’s medication is working for them but also how they are controlling their general health, patient-reported outcome measures, or PROMs are used. 

PROMs can be securely collected with the aid of digital solutions including SMS, symptom-tracking applications, and wearable technology. Additionally, they provide patients an opportunity to speak with and ask questions of their care staff in person. All of this data contributes to the continual and real-time development of a tailored snapshot that enables more in-depth clinical discussions between patient and physician.

A person with MS, for instance, can utilise a smartwatch app to monitor their daily activity level, record any symptoms, get medication reminders, and share information on whether they are reaching important condition-management criteria like balance and walking distance. The app allows caregivers to establish medication reminders and receive missed-dose alerts. Patients can share this information with their care team, giving professionals a more comprehensive understanding of their activities and the effectiveness with which their diseases are being handled.

Patients commonly use these apps when they are available. For instance, 90% of MS patients who participated in a wristwatch pilot programme actively used the gadget, 86% of whom used it to record symptoms, and 96% of whom uploaded health information regularly.

Oncology treatment is another excellent illustration of the efficacy of PROMs. Cancer treatments frequently have serious side effects, which cause patients to stop receiving them. Patients can select the symptoms they want to follow with just an oncology symptom tracker and communicate live with their clinical medical team. As a result, a nurse or other clinician can evaluate the intensity of their symptoms or adverse reactions, establish whether a therapy is effective, spot any gaps in care, decide whether to consult the primary doctor, and, if necessary, propose a prescription adjustment. It is obvious that implementing PROMs will enable patients to take better control of their own care, enhancing health outcomes.

Data from PROMs can enhance care for people with the same illness as well as help individual patients live healthier lives. One can discover insights that help forecast comorbidities, gaps in care, typical side effects, and probable adverse events by applying information machine learning and analytics to the PROMs collected, which can improve the condition journey for other people with the same disease.

It can take some time and some trial and error for patients with rheumatoid arthritis, one of the disorders that leads to the highest spending among specialty conditions, to find the right medication at the proper dosage. However, people frequently stop attending therapy.

One now understands, however, that this isn’t necessarily because the medication isn’t working thanks to PROMs. On the basis of PROMs gathered from a large group of people with the disease, one can know that depression is frequently a comorbidity of people with rheumatoid arthritis. They may provide prescribers with this knowledge and advise them to evaluate patients for depression after they receive a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis in order to keep them on therapy. Similarly, experts are aware that an oncology patient is more likely to stop taking their medication if they experience fatigue and nausea as adverse effects of their treatment. When necessary, a member of their care team may advise a therapy modification to the physician after discussing this information.

The reduction of overall healthcare costs is another advantage of adopting PROMs to enhance condition management. For patients already on a treatment plan, the majority of the costs for treating speciality illnesses are incurred during continuous therapy. However, stopping therapy because of side effects or a worsening of one’s condition is not unusual, especially for people with complex chronic diseases. This can occur in between specialist visits, which could be months apart, and results in a waste of the money spent filling a prescription, costing both the patient and the healthcare system as a whole money that is not necessary.

Utilizing PROMs for medication monitoring is one approach to stop this from happening. One can reduce waste and provide reduced costs by closely monitoring every stage of a patient’s therapy to make sure they are taking the appropriate medication at the right dosage and that the treatment is effective. Tailored clinical interventions based on continuous monitoring caused more than 20% of patients to stop taking a certain drug or switch to another, saving each targeted patient almost $2,000 in the first 90 days.

The patient experience doesn’t have to be challenging despite the complexity of specialty disorders. In the end, PROM usage goes beyond simple transactions. They are a means to offer all-encompassing support to those managing difficult disorders, assisting patients in understanding their condition, overcoming any obstacles, and managing their general health to the best of their ability.

As the present system is frequently fragmented, encouraging increased use of PROMs by patients and clinicians alike can help fill gaps, improve care outcomes, and cut total costs.