Person receiving care using a medical device

The Disruption Series: The Importance of Patient Education

How pharma companies can improve medication use “as prescribed”

This is the thirteenth piece in the Lionbridge Disruption Series, a collection of commentary from life sciences experts on how the industry is changing as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

How does pharma invest in the medication pipeline?

Long before selling their first pill or injection, pharma sponsors invest massive resources in their products. Clinical trial costs average out to more than $40,000 per participant. From regulatory approval to informed consent to data integrity to social listening, long years of attention through multiple phases help ensure medications are both safe and effective by the time they get to market.

Yet Pharmavoice recently conducted a webinar which indicated that, on average health care professionals spend as little as six minutes training patients on the use of medication. And among health care professionals who prescribe treatments involving patient self-injection, 60 percent are not satisfied with the quality of training being offered. 

Be honest—how many times do you really read all the instructions that come with a new prescription? The folded–up details from the pharmacy rarely make it to our brains before getting tossed into the recycling bin. In an increasingly paperless world, pharma companies need to find a better way to get their instructions into the hands of patients.

Why is patient education important?

As anyone who has zoned out during a doctor’s visit can attest, medical information can be difficult to maintain. And in addition to pure memory, understanding of information and satisfaction with it are key elements for adherence

Too often, patients receive a prescription for a new treatment, and are sent home after a very brief overview on administering their own medication–even if that treatment requires the patient to inject themselves. Without reminders or a reference, patients can easily forget important steps or contraindications. Complete, memorable training can reduce the risk of this non-compliance and maintain the safety of both the patient and the trial as a whole.

How can pharma companies educate patients?

As healthcare has become increasingly remote during the COVID-19 pandemic, the thought of returning to the office is less and less appealing to patients. Virtual or printed materials serve as reference guides that are not constrained by geography or time. Graphics and well-translated instructions (in text or video) can overcome language barriers.

Patients already turn to video on their own to supplement directions from healthcare providers—think of the YouTube instructionals on stitches at home. Pharma companies can fill that niche with content of their own: rich training videos, which patients can access by scanning a bar code on the treatment itself. Training links or videos can also be uploaded to telehealth applications, which means no losing pamphlets in filing systems. 

Even newer technologies like AR can be a part of training systems. All these options can enrich patient experience and understanding of the process, ultimately improving outcomes. 

Of course, every new communication like this needs to be accessible in a participant’s native language. Medically accurate, scientifically vigorous translation and transcreation, done properly, is comprehensive and comprehensible.

Our Lionbridge team has vast experience expanding and improving medical information for patient engagement and retention. Have your own ideas or questions on the topic? Reach out to us or hop on a call.

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Mark Aiello
Mark Aiello