Successful management of chronic disease can be challenging, both for patients and for healthcare professionals. Getting patients involved is an important goal, as those who are engaged in their own health and treatment tend to have better outcomes. By understanding the drivers for patient engagement, companies can tailor support programs that have potential for success by taking into account disease type and stage, and patient preference and situation.
There are four main drivers behind the development of patient support programs:
- Changes in epidemiology of long-term conditions
- Shifts in company pipelines
- An evolving regulatory environment
- Current political agendas
Changes in long term condition epidemiology
As more people live longer and with changing lifestyles, doctors are diagnosing more cases of long-term conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. These can be complicated to manage in an ageing population with frequent comorbidity. Educating patients, by developing their own skills and increasing confidence, can result in a feeling of being in control. These patients are more likely to take steps to manage their disease.
Patient support programs can provide much needed patient support but they need to be tailored to the patient needs. For example, patients who need to have their confidence built up will need smaller steps to show success in their own disease management; those who are already managing their own disease will be able to cope with larger challenges and goals.
Shifts in company pipelines
Many company pipelines focus on long-term conditions, but there are still areas of unmet need. One area of opportunity is in improvements in formulation and delivery that could improve concordance, a major challenge in healthcare.
Patient support programs can improve adherence to what can be complicated regimes. According to research, carried out on behalf of Quintiles, almost 60% of doctors believe that adherence apps could help patients take their treatment correctly. These apps could remind patients to take their drugs, or simply provide reassurance. By improving adherence, and therefore the efficacy of the drugs, the apps could increase the perceived value of the drugs. It is important to remember that the use of apps will depend on the target patients, as not everyone has the same level of comfort with digital devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Companies are developing new and innovative drugs for diseases, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and severe asthma. Many of these are biologics, which bring their own compliance complications, such as unfamiliar forms of administration or delivery devices, including injectable delivery. If the potential demonstrated in clinical trials is to be realized, then their use needs to be supported through patient programs delivering education on home administration.
An evolving regulatory environment
Real world evidence has a growing role in supporting drug development, approval and continued reimbursement. Companies can use the real-world data generated alongside patient support programs to understand the use of drugs in ‘normal life’, research new indications and guide healthcare professional to improve clinical outcomes.
Current political agendas
Funding pressures are growing across Europe, driven by population growth, increases in the prevalence of long-term conditions and lifestyle- and age-related disorders, rising drug costs and the economic downturn in some areas. Patient support programs, developed and supported by biopharma can play a role by reducing healthcare costs and improving patient outcomes.
Patient support programs: Making healthcare better
By working together, biopharma, healthcare professionals and patients can build and structure the best possible patient support programs. These can have a real impact on patient outcomes, healthcare professional workloads and healthcare costs by increasing patient activation and engagement, and improving adherence.
To learn more about how biopharma can develop the right patient support at the right time, download our white paper entitled ‘Supporting the patient journey, engaging patients with healthcare decisions’