Overcoming medication adherence barriers during the COVID-19 pandemic
By Dale Hanna |
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, patients are dealing with unprecedented and shifting barriers to care. Dale Hanna, Product Director, and Andrea Windich, Director of Nursing, share how Lash Group is continually adapting and innovating to make sure adherence support programs meet patients' needs.
Q: How have Lash Group's adherence solutions evolved to help patients as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts daily life?
Dale Hanna: We're offering more touchpoints in response to patients' concerns around going into doctors' offices and the increased amount of time it takes to get an appointment. Our nurses are sometimes the easiest healthcare professionals for our patients to access.
The pivot to virtual interactions is helping those within the healthcare industry communicate and engage with patients. Our self-injectable programs are now also leveraging virtual training. Using HIPAA-compliant technologies, we can still deliver training within a day.
Andrea Windich: Fortunately, Lash Group was ahead of the curve because we were already equipped to provide virtual training. For the field teams who were predominantly going to patients' homes, we proactively offered a virtual solution as a service enhancement. We were able to seamlessly make the transition, keeping patients safe without disrupting service delivery.
We also partnered with our manufacturer clients to alleviate patients' stress related to COVID-19. For example, many patients were concerned about shipments and getting their medications on time. We worked with our manufacturer clients ahead of time to make sure we could continue to provide the same high level of service as before the pandemic, building patients' trust in our ability to meet their needs.
Q: What are some other ways your teams are innovating to deliver adherence support and better patient engagement?
DH: Our ongoing mission of providing holistic, individualized support for each patient continues to drive the development of adherence services. Over the past year, our focus has shifted to three areas.
The first area is care planning. We want to drive behavioral change in a way that positively impacts patients' health outcomes. Gaining a deeper understanding of the non-clinical measures affecting patient decision-making is helping us to develop more effective care plans.
Secondly, we are emphasizing proactive engagement. The specialized technology integrated into our CRM system enables us to employ predictive analytics to determine the optimal engagement approach at the patient level.
Lastly, our mobile engagement strategy is another innovative patient support program we've deployed. Working with Medisafe and their adherence application, we deploy a high-touch, high-tech approach to meaningfully benefit patients by engaging them where they are to improve medication adherence.
Q: Speaking of those non-clinical factors that heavily impact adherence, have you seen any shifts since we last explored them— particularly as it relates to the ripple effect of COVID-19?
DH: We are monitoring the impact these types of factors have on patients at this time. Although we don't have any hard numbers to share yet, I anticipate we will see a large uptick in psychosocial needs. Anxiety and depression appear to be a significant part of the fallout related to COVID-19.
There are likely several contributors exacerbating this problem. For the disease states our adherence solutions support, depression and anxiety are already common comorbidities. As a result of the pandemic, patients are dealing with multiple stressors, including changes to lifestyle, loss of support, financial difficulties, and loss of health insurance.
These adherence barriers are very different from those we saw pre-pandemic. At that time, our patient support programs were more focused on barriers related to motivation and education.
Q: Are there any other aspects of Lash Group's adherence solutions that are well-suited to manage the challenge of socially distanced patient care?
DH: The educational support that we provide is still front and center as to the true value of our adherence solutions. A big part of our education is the relational aspect of having a support person there for patients. From an emotional standpoint, having our nurses available to listen and offer comfort is a huge weight off patients' shoulders.
As our mobile engagement technology continues to roll out, patients are also going to benefit from an on-demand, easily accessible type of support.
Q: Why is it important to continue to focus on quality care in light of the pandemic?
AW: The quality component of our patient support programs continues to be of the utmost importance. Due to the risks of COVID-19, there is a heightened focus at Lash Group to ensure patients have access and can adhere to the medications they need. We have partnered with our legal, compliance, and leadership teams to make sure we continue to maintain high quality care for patients in the safest and most secure way.
Q: Can you discuss the importance of having dedicated and knowledgeable talent?
AW: Hiring skilled, trained nurses with a background in case management and telehealth nursing, as well as clinical experience with the applicable disease state, is essential to the success of our patient support programs. There is a big advantage in having dedicated nurses establish strong, one-on-one relationships with patients.
Q: How has the clinical team adapted to providing patient support safely and effectively during the COVID-19 health emergency?
AW: We are cognizant of the risks to both patients and our staff nurses during in-home visits. From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lash Group has worked diligently to be transparent with the Lash Group clinical team and address any questions or concerns. We developed proactive contingency plans to ensure we were covering all the bases. We collaborated with our legal and compliance teams to develop comprehensive screening checklists to maximize safety. Also, our senior leaders have continued to engage with our manufacturers to keep them apprised of our plans.
Q: How do you motivate those team members who are on the frontline working with patients?
AW: We have an Associate Engagement Committee that creates programs to help our associates engage with leaders and other team members. During the pandemic, the committee has actively sponsored activities, such as virtual happy hours, to combat elevated stress. One of our biggest programs was the creation of a 220-page team cookbook. We really strive to motivate our team members in new and fun ways.