Nurse Stories: Jessica
Lash Group Nurse Navigators
Medication adherence can make a significant difference in a patient's health and quality of life, yet it remains a challenge. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, about half of patients with chronic conditions do not take their medications as prescribed, resulting in an estimated $300 billion annually in avoidable medical spending in the U.S.
Nurses provide a personal connection that has a positive impact on patients' ability to understand their medications and take them as prescribed. Jessica, a registered nurse, works with patients struggling with moderate to severe eczema and severe asthma as a patient support program nurse educator at Lash Group. For her, each day is an opportunity to help patients better cope with their conditions and adhere to their treatment plans. For the patients she works with, every day they stay on treatment can mean another day of relief.
A drive to help people
Jessica, who has been a nurse for 13 years, views her profession as a personal calling. “What motivates me is helping people. It's the driving force behind my life, really," she says. Jessica worked as an ER nurse in the Dallas area, then joined Lash Group in 2008 to use her clinical expertise as a nurse educator.
Once a patient gets a diagnosis and treatment plan, the first call they may receive is from a telehealth nurse like Jessica. “We are going to make outreach to a patient within 24 hours of receiving a new program enrollment, benefits outcome information, or benefit updates," she says. Jessica builds trust by listening to her patients, educating them on what to expect throughout their therapeutic journey, and counseling them on taking their medication properly. Not only does she help patients clinically—for example, by helping them learn to self-administer an injection—she also helps them with medication management and adherence. She routinely makes check-in calls to remind patients when their next injection is due or when it's time for a refill. Jessica will also reach out to ensure her patients follow up on lab work. She may respond to questions about how a product works and what to expect during treatment or help navigate through benefits issues.
It takes a team
Teamwork is the backbone of an effective medication adherence program. From the doctors' office and pharmacy to the program managers and the nurse educator teams, there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to patient support programs. As Jessica points out, “We have a lot of nurses on our program – over 125 and growing. We have weekly meetings to keep everyone updated on any changes with the program." The team works together to ensure the individual needs of their patients are met.
Jessica finds that working on a large program with high call volume and substantial associated administrative work is more effective with a buddy system. Each telehealth nurse educator on her program is paired up with a partner to help them handle inbound calls more efficiently. They cover for each other during breaks or whenever additional call management is required, ensuring no patient slips through the cracks.
Making a difference
Each day, patient support program nurse educators listen to patients' concerns, help them overcome their fears, and share clinical expertise. As a vital link in the continuum of care, they collaborate with the healthcare team, fill care gaps, and support medication adherence. Telehealth nurses like Jessica are one of the most effective ways pharma is confronting the medication adherence problem in the United States.
And for Jessica, at the end of the day, it's all about making a difference in each patient's life. “When you get a call from someone who is in agony because of their eczema symptoms, and you get to tell them they qualify for a year of free medication, to hear the relief and the gratitude, to just be able to do that for them means a lot."