Doctor shows patient chart

Today is International Nurses Day, and I’m excited to celebrate and acknowledge the accomplishments of my peers. As a nurse advisor, I fill a unique role in the care community, providing patients, physicians and pharma with additional support structures to improve care. I’ve worked as a nurse advisor for more than a decade, helping patients manage their conditions, ensuring they receive optimal treatment that meets NICE guidance, and that they have an easier and more positive treatment experience. These services don’t just benefit the patient. When clinicians adopt nurse advisor programs, we are also able to help them shorten care visits while educating and encouraging patients in their own care, which increases adherence to new drugs.

In recent programs that my team has participated in, we have helped patients learn how to self-inject, and provided hospital and home-infusion services which is a significant area of growth for the pharma. We have also mentored and educated other nurse advisors, as well as clinical nurses, doctors, pharmacists, and healthcare professionals to ensure they understand how to confidently prescribe, fill, and deliver new treatments that come to market. All of these services are helping to improve the quality and efficiency of the healthcare services we support.

I am very proud of the work we do in support of patient care, which is why I was so honored to receive the 2016 PF Clinical Nursing Award, for making a difference in patient’s lives.

Lean on me

In my career as a nurse advisor I’ve worked with patients in clinics and hospitals, as well as through home visits, and in each of these programs I’ve witnessed an important trend – when patients have a little extra time and support from a healthcare professional, they feel more positive about their treatment experience. They are less stressed, and they gain greater confidence in their ability to stay committed to their treatment regimen. This is important, because when we engage with these patients they are often at a vulnerable point in their care journeys, when they are making critical decisions about how committed they are to following their treatment plans. Providing them with the support and knowledge they need to manage their disease can have a huge impact on how they proceed.

Studies show that across all therapeutic categories, adherence to medication is a significant healthcare challenge. An estimated 20-30% of prescriptions are never filled, and medication is not continued as prescribed in about 50% of cases. This lack of adherence contributes to nearly 200,000 deaths a year in the EU alone, and costs the National Health Service an estimated £300million a year in medicine wastage and a further £500million in lost benefits to people’s health. 

Our nurse advisor programs have shown to improve adherence among the patients we support. For example, the MS Lifeline program, which Quintiles has overseen since 2004, provides newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis patients and their caregivers with home visits by a licensed nurse who can answer their questions and watch as they give themselves self-injections to make sure they are doing it right. The impact of this program was a 40 percent improvement in patient retention rates in the first two years compared to the launch baseline.

Many of our programs show similarly powerful results, thanks to the care and support provided by our nurses.

We also track results through patient and customer satisfaction surveys to measure the impact we have on patient care. Our results are consistently over 90%, demonstrating how much patients appreciate our services. Though the bigger indicator for me is often the comments that respondents include in these surveys. For example, in one recent survey a patient commented: “I was feeling low before my visit but the nurse set my mind at rest and I am now feeling more positive.” And in another, the patient said: “The nurse was really helpful and made 100% sure I knew what I was doing.”

Comments like these underscore the importance of the work we do and the impact we have on people’s lives.  We help them feel empowered, and able to tackle the often difficult obstacles that come with a new diagnosis and treatment regimen. If I can make them feel more positive about their care, I know I am a success.

Topics in this blog post: Patient Outcomes, Healthcare