Digital Drug Companions are Delivering Adherence for Pharma

Supporting patient engagement is not only a growing strategic initiative for pharma companies but also an impactful value driver. As the patient experience becomes increasingly digital, and patients turn to online resources to support their medication management, pharma is turning to online platforms to support the journey. Digital drug companions create a personalized, interactive experience for patients that delivers the right support and tools during critical moments and can connect patients to healthcare services throughout their journey. This investment means improve medication adherence and greater connection to the patient journey and the ability to deliver timely support.

The cost of medication non-adherence
review in the Annals of Internal Medicine estimates that a lack of adherence causes nearly 125,000 deaths, 10 percent of hospitalizations and costs the already strained healthcare system between $100–$289 billion a year. On average 20-30% of new prescriptions are never filled, and 50% of medications are not taken as prescribed. Much of this non-adherence is due to lack of information patients have about their medications, how they may interact with other medications, and proper dosing. But digital drug companions are helping to change this by creating custom, personalized guidance and support for patients taking medications and leading to greater adherence. Pharma is able to push information at critical decision moments throughout medication therapy to help patients stay adherent and achieve better outcomes.

Impact to specialty pharmacy
According to a 2018 Express Scripts drug trend report, 50% of drug spending was represented by specialty medications, serving some of the most complex conditions and severe needs.  And specialty drug spending is expected to reach $1.7 trillion by 2030. Medication adherence is of critical importance for those with certain disease states and conditions where noncompliance can lead to resistance, tissue rejection, and even morbidity. These include HIV, post-transplant, and oncology patients. Adherence via taking medications every day prevents HIV from multiplying, which reduces the risk that the disease will mutate and produce drug-resistant HIV.  In one study of 418 oncology patients, 10% stopped taking their medications, 7% never filled their prescription, and 9% did not regularly fill their prescription.  Given the impact of nonadherence for cancer patients, the outcome of nonadherence among specialty medications can be dire.

How digital drug companions create engagement
The need to educate, remind, and coach patients and caregivers is of critical importance. The use of digital tools is playing an expanded role in supporting the larger compliance plan. Digital drug companions, coupled with actionable intelligence from data reporting, are driving engagement among patients by creating a personalized and actionable experience in medication management. Medisafe’s digital drug companions capture a holistic view of each patient’s entire medical and therapeutic status, including concomitant therapies, medical history, allergies, comorbid conditions. Through its’ patented Just-In-Time-Intervention strategies, the platform can assess, recognize, and intervene if a patient is at risk of falling off therapy. The required daily interaction of the platform ensures continued guidance for patients, creating engagement levels that rival that of social media platforms.

Engagement is central to improving medication adherence and persistence. A recent review of how digital drug companions help to support those efforts found that while engagement is a qualitative component, measurable impact can be seen from employing digital drug platforms. Komodo Health used real-world patient data to examine the impact of digital drug companions to influence patient engagement. The finding indicates that specialty medicine patients improved adherence by 5.8% and extended persistence by an additional five weeks, compared to patients not using Medisafe. The analysis examined prescription patterns during a 52-week period for patients using specialty medication.  The findings represent real value that Medisafe brings to patients’ lives.

The value from combining a digital drug companion
By improving adherence, digital drug companions can create additional value for pharma organizations. According to third-party research evaluating a sub-Q biologic involving 45,000 invited patients, the potential two-year value of a next-gen digital companion serving as an adjunct to the patient services program is $28 million. While this calculation measured the impact on just one medication, it underscores the impact such programs can have toward pharma’s bottom line.  When coupled with the financial costs of patient engagement, pharma’s investments into a digital drug companion can deliver quantifiable results that amount to significant financial value.

The value of these digital solutions is no longer hypothetical or merely a ‘nice’ add-on to patient services programs. In addition to delivering significant clinical value to patients, digital drug platforms are impacting the bottom line of pharma companies by increasing first fill rates, adherence and persistence of therapy.

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