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Beyond-The-Pill-Study reveals: Physicians want industry to double down on patient support

  • – Physicians view medication adherence as key success factor for therapeutic outcome
    – Physicians prefer product-neutral support offerings
    – Digital tools with strong potential for patient support

Many pharmaceutical companies run beyond-the-pill programmes which support patients toward successful treatments. The goal: improving outcomes by improving adherence. With neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, these programmes are particularly wide-spread. Specially-trained nurses call patients and inform them about their treatment and the specifics of their medication. To what extent do physicians consider these programmes helpful? And are quarterly phone calls still the adequate tool for patient support in the year 2015?


We surveyed 100 neurologists about their preferences regarding patient support programmes. The key takeaways: Physicians appreciate the pharmaceutical industry’s support. However, they see substantial room for improvement: Limiting the scope to one specific medication and running the programme with an industry branding does lower effectiveness in the view of many physicians. The strong reliance on phone-based support forgoes the high potential of digital tools. Their first-best solution: an independent and product-neutral programme that allows for daily touch points with the patient.

Physicians view adherence as key success factor for therapeutic outcome

Among physicians, there is perfect consensus on the importance of adherence: 100% believe that adherence with the treatment plan is a key success factor for a good outcome. At the same time, only a minority of doctors believes their patients to comply with their treatment plans. Accordingly, they appreciate the industry’s effort to support adherence with dedicated beyond-the-pill programmes.


Key elements of patient support: reminders, education, and documentation

When rating the importance of different elements of a patient support programme, physicians show a clear preference: 83% of the doctors surveyed perceive medication reminders as important. However, from their point of view, quarterly calls don’t do the trick here: moving the needle for adherence requires daily reminders. Educational content is important, too: information on the medication and the condition come in second (74%) and third (69%) place, respectively. While a health journal is still important to the majority of doctors (62%), other elements such as patient communities are perceived as less important.



Physicians prefer industry-independent support programmes

Should pharmaceutical companies run their own support programmes or should they rely on independent services? According to the physicians the answer is simple: Out of 100 neurologists, only 28% want the industry to run their own programmes. As for the physicians the industry can make a bigger impact through partnering: 94% say the industry should support independent programmes to increase medical adherence.

Conclusion and outlook

Support programmes are an important tool for supporting patients during their treatment and increasing medication adherence. From a physician’s standpoint, today’s programmes hardly deliver to the most important support needs: Educating patients and reminding them of every single medication intake goes beyond the possibilities of phone-based support. This is where digital tools such as apps can engage patients on a whole new level: Residing on patients’ smartphones they can effectively and efficiently support patients, 24 hours a day. And, unlike phone based programmes, digital tools come with costs structures that allow their deployment also in less-expensive conditions. The ‘MyTherapy’ software platform is one of the leading tools in these fields. Offered by the Munich-based company smartpatient, MyTherapy supports patients in managing their medication and documenting their condition. Showcased to the surveyed neurologists, MyTherapy received positive feedback: 96% view the app as valuable adherence support. Sebastian Gaede, founder and managing director at smartpatient, underlines the advantage in digital patient support: “Across all age and patient groups smartphones have become ubiquitous. To leverage this momentum, our pharma partners trust MyTherapy as the simplest, most effective, and most affordable way for supporting adherence on the large scale. To the benefit of patients, physicians, and themselves.”

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Press Contact

Anne Schallhammer
Fon: +49 89 1222493-16