Support materials increase patient adherence

New drugs on the market are increasingly expensive and directed to increasingly smaller subsets of patients. Combined with the ageing population and increasing overall costs of health care, the issue of the price of treatment versus its benefits is becoming increasingly important. The effectiveness of treatment, expressed in concepts like Real World Data (RWD) and Real World Evidence (RWE), is the topic of at least half of the articles written by the pharmaceutical and health care sector. An essential precondition for the assessment of the effectiveness of treatment is that the patients use the medicines prescribed for them in the correct way. How can we make sure this actually happens?

The patient’s ability to use the drug is of paramount importance

Some drug groups, such as inhaled asthma medications and injected drugs self-administered by the patient, are prone to user errors and problems that arise as a result of these errors. If an expensive biological medicine is left at room temperature overnight by mistake, an anticoagulant drug is injected subcutaneously with a haphazard technique or the needle of an insulin pen always tends to bend, both the patient and their attending health care professional may lose the motivation to use the drug.

The patient’s participation in his or her care is critical for a good treatment result, especially in chronic diseases. Patients are becoming more interested in the goals and results of their therapy. Some patients might challenge a health care professional by presenting views on alternative therapies. In order to reach a constructive dialogue with patients in cases like these, professionals would benefit from advisory tools that are based on reliable knowledge. The ability to provide tangible support that helps a patient in their everyday life increases the patient’s trust in health care professionals.

A central location for up-to-date patient instructions for professionals

At best, a patient is treated by a multidisciplinary team that supports the patient’s functional capacity in locations of the care path: at the physician’s or nurse’s reception, in a pharmacy as well as home. Clear patient instructions can offer important support to such a team, especially as it is possible to refer to the instructions repeatedly along the care path. Clear and comprehensive instructions do not rely on text alone – pictures or videos on the correct use of the dosing device of a drug are also useful.

Furthermore, when a health care professional has access to up-to-date material in an electronic repository, the risks arising from following obsolete instructions can be avoided.

More time can be spent on meeting patients, since the support materials for pharmacotherapy can be found in a single centralised location, and no time is wasted trying to find them on various websites whose addresses keep changing. Examples of drug groups in which new drugs requiring special advice have recently been introduced on the market are biological drugs for treating rheumatic diseases and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Support materials promote equality of care

On a national level, we must ensure that there is equality of care: health care professional should have equal ability to give pharmaceutical advice and otherwise support patients’ care irrespective of a patient’s domicile or whether he or she is treated in public or private health care.

An essential factor in this is the diversity of languages among the patients. The capital region in particular needs pharmaceutical advisory materials in several languages. In addition to the language, patients’ other characteristics should be paid attention to: a grass-roots message from the health care sector is that we need more materials designed for paediatric patients. For example, clear and positive instructions help the everyday life of young diabetes patients and children with a rheumatic disease, and their families.

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The blog post is written by Elli Leppä,
Development Pharmacist, PhD

www.laaketietokeskus.fi/en