By Ashik Desai, Executive Vice President of Business Growth & Analytics,
I always wanted to be a doctor. As a child, I was rather obsessed with reading anything that I could get my hands on about human medicine. Physicians were up there with firefighters and policemen, people who earned the trust of the people one interaction at a time, and who made the world better by saving lives. Romantic, yes, but I’m not alone here. Dr. Andrew Siegel decided to get involved with medicine because of “the concept of a hands-on profession, where I could help people achieve both quality and quantity of life appealed to me greatly.”
Another physician, Dr. Neil Baum, explains, “My favorite reward from being a doctor is my relationship with the patients. I truly enjoy waking up each morning excited about coming to the practice to see my patients and help improve their health. “
In talking to our member practitioners, this is a running theme. They are passionate about the human element; about working face-to-face with patients, and interacting in a trustworthy, empathetic way to help their patients live healthier lives.
Unfortunately, despite earnest attempts over the past few years, technology has hindered the physician’s ability to interact in a personal way with their patients. While an important vessel for information, EHRs pull physicians to their computers. An oft-cited article in the Journal of the American Medical Association describes a drawing that a pediatrician received from a 7-year-old patient, which depicted the child sitting on the exam room table, with the physician hunched over a computer, back turned. Recent changes in healthcare apply more pressure on the physician to see more and more patients in less time. Meanwhile, the rise of online resources gives patients access to ample information – some relevant, some not – but none available at the right time and place.
But what if technology could bring back and enhance the face-to-face contact that engendered comfort and security in the patient? Instead of turning our back to innovation, let’s find ways to use it to serve that human interaction. Fortunately, innovations at the point of care give patients access to highly credible information that is targeted to the condition they are visiting their doctor about. They also supply physicians with rich, interactive materials that they can share with their patients. By doing so, they bring the human element back into the exam room, to improve dialogue, and drive health outcomes. Here’s how:
ENHANCED PATIENT ENGAGEMENT
Products such as a tablets and digital exam room wallboards give physicians the tools to actually enhance their dialogue with the patient. These products are a living, breathing part of the conversation, used to communicate treatments, share information with the patient for future reference and illustrate conditions using rich technology. For life sciences marketers, these provide a platform to deliver messaging in a more personal, interactive way — as part of the consultation, with a physician present. For physicians like Dr. Baum, it means that they can focus more on what they do best: engaging with the patient.
“Perhaps the greatest enjoyment comes with educating patients about their conditions and what they can do to achieve good health,” he said. “Using digital wallboards is an opportunity to chat with a patient and explain in a visual way their medical problem. I know full well that they have understood the problem and what the action plan is going to be.”
Dr. Siegel explained, “One of my key roles is to help educate patients so that they can make informed and collaborative decisions. Tablets and wallboards support this process, facilitating physician-patient dialogue to help bridge the knowledge gap that exists between physicians and patients.”
In combination with an in-person consultation, physicians like Dr. Baum and Dr. Siegel are finding that their patients are now asking better questions and are more invested in their treatment. A study by Nielsen and ContextMedia:Health Analytics have found that 88% of patients who interact with point-of-care media platforms learn relevant, condition-specific information. Patients are better prepared to receive information when the physician enters the exam room.
DELIVERY OF RELEVANT INFORMATION AT AN ACTIONABLE TIME
Unlimited access to health information via the internet can be overwhelming to the untrained patient. According to a Pew Survey, on mobile, 62% of adult smartphone users have used their device to get information about a health condition. Additional Pew research found that roughly 80% of Internet users have looked up health information online. Meanwhile, life sciences marketers invested an estimated $1.64B in digital and mobile advertising in 2015. However, despite the near infinite amounts of information readily available for patients, they still struggle with adherence. The reason? Most of it isn’t relevant, and patients can’t ask questions in real time.
When placed strategically at the point of care, tablets and wallboards make it possible to hyper-target curated information to patients, and make that information readily available for use in a guided face-to-face conversation with their physician. At the same time, quality of information is better than ever.
For example, healthcare providers now have access to cloud-based, 3D anatomical diagrams in the exam room. In addition to applications in research and education, these platforms can be deployed in the exam room on a digital wallboard. Physicians can guide their patient through a dynamic 3D visualization of their condition during consultation.
According to the study by Nielsen and ContextMedia:Health Analytics, when presented with a full suite of point-of-care media platforms, 6 in 10 patients discuss educational information from point of care products with their provider. In combination with a meaningful dialogue with their physician, 62% understand more about their condition compared to control groups.
Dr. Baum noticed the immediate impact of this rich media on the education his patients.“It is certainly acceptable to tell a patient what they need to do to improve their health and their condition, but to be able to show them on a screen in the exam room is taking education to another level,” he said.
Meanwhile, most of the $1.64B that is currently spent on digital by life science firms isn’t as targeted as it could be. Using basic digital marketing tools, these firms are tracking basic measurements as to where their messaging is being delivered, and more importantly, what actions are being taken on them. Innovations at the point of care mean that life science marketers can now ensure that messaging delivered to relevant patients at a time when they can ask questions in real time with their physician.
IMPROVED ADHERENCE AND HEALTH OUTCOMES
The combination of stronger patient engagement, richer information, and meaningful, empathetic dialogue with physician results in improved adherence and health outcomes. For a physician like Dr. Baum, the use of a wallboard or tablet during consultation makes a tremendous difference in retention of information. “I have found that patients appreciate and, more importantly, understand the problem and what needs to be done to resolve the problem. I think a visual description in addition to an audible one enhances the doctor-patient encounter.”
This presents an opportunity for physicians to improve the gaps in adherence that plague the management of chronic conditions. Patients living with chronic conditions are responsible for self-managing over 90% of their treatment. When presented with a full suite of point of care educational products, 55% of patients cite improved ability to manage care.
In combination with a meaningful dialogue, these innovations also make patients more likely to start the relevant treatments that they need to live healthier. What’s more is that for physicians and marketers, data is now available to understand the full impact of thoughtful messaging on these platforms.
With the help of point-of-care tablets and wallboards, it is now possible to track NBRx (new-to-brand prescriptions), which is an accurate measurement of the number patients that start a therapy for the first time. This metric is revolutionary. Instead of investing in proxy impressions, pharmaceutical marketers can get a true read on the impact of messaging in the physician’s office before and during consultation, and the potential for improved health outcomes as a result. A study performed by IMS Health found that there was 39% lift in NBRx in offices with integrated point-of-care digital education vs. control groups.
While the high impact of digital point-of-care patient education is proven, these innovations are nothing without the trust that physicians foster with their patients. As Dr. Siegel explained, “My patients have entrusted me with their care and meaningful, enjoyable, and rewarding relationships have been developed and nurtured over the years. Engaging their confidence and respect through our interactions has proven to be one of the most satisfying and fulfilling aspects of being a physician.”
There is no substitute for the human element – for the empathy and care that physicians like Dr. Baum and Dr. Siegel invest in their patients. That is not the goal. Instead, the goal of these innovations is to empower physicians and marketers with tools to strengthen their relationships with patients, and to ensure that each walks out of the practice confident and informed about the next steps of their treatment.
While I did not pursue medicine, I wake up driven by these interactive technologies, which can help physicians improve lives, one patient at time. These technologies give physicians the freedom to look their patients in the eyes, build trust, and ensure that they feel taken care of. Healing is not just about the medication or the data. It’s about inclusion of the patient in pursuit of effective therapy. That shared decision making, and the ability to enhance retention, prescription fulfillment, and health outcomes, is where information meets interaction. •
Ashik Desai , Executive Vice President of Business Growth & Analytics ContextMedia. Ashik leads ContextMedia’s many growth initiatives with a strong focus on measured, data-supported execution and success. Ashik attended Northwestern University where he completed the Honors Program in Medical Education at the Feinberg School of Medicine and earned a Finance Certificate from the Kellogg School of Management. While there, he served as the Vice-President of the Institute for Student Business Education, Northwestern’s largest undergraduate business organization. He now sits on the organization’s Board of Directors. Ashik has a passion for health information and the influence it could have on patients.
ContextMedia:Health (CMH) is the largest provider of digital solutions at the point-of-care in the United States. CMH owns and operates a suite of digital healthcare networks delivering condition-specific programming at point-of-care in all 50 states. The company focuses on engineering high levels of patient engagement through technological innovation. The company impacts over 378 million patient visits a year, across over 25 thousand physicians’ practices. CMH partners with over 70 leading digital content publishers to deliver curated patient education in waiting rooms and exam rooms across the country. It has been educating patients at the point-of-care since 2006, and currently partners with over 100 health brands across all of the top global pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers to deliver custom marketing solutions across its digital networks. Most recently, CMH launched two new products – Patient Mobile Connect and the the Digital Exam Room Wallboard – that guarantee patients access to relevant health information during the resolution moments of their treatment at the point of care.