Medication Adherence: How Technology Can Help Solve This Billion Dollar Hurdle

Customized technology may help specialty pharmacies drive adherence and patient outcomes.

Technology has taken on a significant role in nearly every aspect of health care. Many physicians and clinics have fully transitioned to electronic records and no longer use paper files, a pillar of the health care space only a few years ago. Recently, the FDA approved a smart pill that can track when a patient takes the drug, which is crucial for monitoring adherence.

The issue of medication adherence is nothing new to specialty pharmacies. With costly treatments and patient outcomes on the line, many specialty pharmacies have explored improving adherence from a digital approach. As technology evolves, it is crucial for pharmacies to keep up with the latest trends.

In an interview with Specialty Pharmacy Times, Matt Gillin, CEO and co-founder of Relay Network, discussed how technology can improve specialty pharmacy offerings and how they have seen patient adherence improve as a result of Relay’s mobile engagement solution.

SPT: How does technology play a role in today’s health care world?

Gillin: We live in a connected world—technology gives insurers, providers, pharmacies, and other stakeholders a seat at the table when it comes to improving and rethinking the patient journey and experience through a multitude of solutions spanning mobile, social, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality.

But the emergence of so many options can often be overwhelming. Just as critical to the technologies being deployed are the plans and goals for utilizing them properly. The true potential of these advancements is only realized when the market is ready for it.

Specialty pharmacy is a great example. Patients are now asking for a more digitally enabled experience, yet the vast majority of specialty pharmacies are still figuring out how to put that into practice.

SPT: How can mobile technology affect patient adherence?

Gillin: The rise of mobile has completely shifted customer expectations. We now expect to engage with brands on our phones to get what we need right when we need it. It’s no longer enough for companies to meet these needs, but to anticipate and deliver services before patients ask for them and on the channel they prefer.

The same can—and should—be true for patient adherence if the experience is simple, personalized, and convenient. The winning companies will be the ones that develop a solution that effectively leverages their data to proactively reach their patients with relevant content via a mobile device.

SPT: Can outdated/slow technology platforms dampen patient adherence?

Gillin: We believe there is a massive opportunity to improve how businesses communicate with their customers. Existing channels like SMS, email, and phone have limitations when it comes to delivering highly personalized, proactive communications, which can ultimately lead to increased costs, poor customer experiences, and lower rates of adherence.

SPT: Why should health care entities implement strategies that move past traditional SMS messages?

GIllin: While read rates with SMS notifications can often reach 90%, the platform has significant limitations when it comes to real patient education and interaction. SMS might be sufficient for simple messaging like notifications for a refill, but because of character restrictions associated with SMS, some cases that require greater protected health information security and message personalization—like patient onboarding, condition education, and therapy administration—require a HIPAA-compliant channel that can support the delivery of hyper-personalized, dynamic content.

SPT: How can digital technology be used to lower medical and/or prescription drug costs?

Gillin: We’ve seen major players in the health care payer world achieve great success with mobile messaging to drive awareness education on gaps in care (60% increase in preventative screenings) or increase renewal rates (74% increase in renewal program rates).

Within specialty pharmacy, we see significant cost saving opportunities that could transform the patient experience for numerous use cases, such as adoption of manufacturer-sponsored cost savings programs or seasonal shipping updates to avoid waste and reduce servicing costs.

SPT: What is the largest benefit Relay’s health care customers have experienced?

Gillin: The largest benefits for our health care customers is the capability to increase mobile engagement and improve the member experience. Historically, our health care customers have relied on channels like apps and portals that are built for all and suffer from low engagement rates.

Relay’s platform helps its health care customers increase mobile engagement and improve patient experience by providing proactive, individualized communications, leading to a secure and private connection to 60% to 80% of their patients. The result is a patient that is more educated, less costly, and more likely to consider doing business with you.