Is an off-the-shelf solution the right approach for patient support?

Alan Emmins & Kristian Holden
November 2019


All too often we see bloated patient support toolboxes for completely different therapies that look identical. Maybe this is driven by a few agencies offering pharmaceutical companies off-the-shelf patient support solutions. They claim to drive behavioural change through complex algorithms and individualised patient support – however, “individualised” normally means simply putting patients into one of three behavioural categories. Furthermore, the toolboxes always have the same elements: a patient diary, symptom tracker, visual reminders, magazine series, SMS reminders, an online platform, a consultation guide, the list goes on.

So, why is patient support so important?

Non-adherence causes 30 to 50% of chronic disease treatment failures and 125,000 deaths per year in the USA.*

20 to 30 percent of new prescriptions are never filled at the pharmacy.*

Medication is not taken as prescribed 50% of the time.*

Pharmaceutical companies may lose up to $637 billion in revenue each year to due non-adherence to medication for chronic illnesses.*

For patients prescribed medications for chronic diseases, the majority take less medication than prescribed or stop the medication altogether after just 6 months.**

There is of course no magic bullet to solve these problems. Each individual disease and therapy carry a completely different set of challenges. So why are we choosing to go with off-the-shelf patient support programmes?

Here are a few principles that we in &Robin passionately believe in:

Market research with end-users (patients and healthcare professionals) is vital for insights into both the patient journey and current support tools.

Detailed patient journey mapping, and validation of this patient journey, is fundamental.

Service design with the patient journey at the core is effective for discovering tools that will drive behavioural change.

Before investing significantly in new tools – prioritise, prototype and test with end-users.

You will achieve far greater value with one or two really well tested and developed tools rather than creating a standard bloated toolbox.

If you need help with any of these steps, please get in touch. The &Robin team have many years of healthcare experience spanning different therapy areas and would love to have a chat. 

*Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Why You Need to Take Your Medications as Prescribed or Instructed. Retrieved from: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/special-features/why-you-need-take-your-medications-prescribed-or-instructed ** The Cost of Medication Adherence to Pharma. Retrieved from: https://www.pharmacytimes.com/news/the-cost-of-medication-adherence-to-pharma#targetText=A new report indicates that,treatment, or various other reasons

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