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Predictive Analytics Alone Can’t Win the Battle for Patient Engagement

predictive-analyticsNPR recently reported that the FDA is looking to health care technology to address unforeseen risks and side effects in medications and medication interactions.

The $116 million project — called Mini-Sentinel — mines databases of EHRs to spot trends that indicate potential problems with drugs. The systematic approach may identify risks with new drugs on the market more quickly and accurately than the current process, which relies on voluntary self-reporting from physicians, pharmacists and patients.

While this pilot program may help reduce negative health consequences caused by side effects or drug interactions, there’s another serious issue doctors must address — ensuring patient compliance. After all, prescriptions can only be effective at improving patient outcomes if they are taken as directed.

Monitoring Drug Safety is Critical

The painkiller, Vioxx, is a great example of why the FDA needs greater — and more immediate — insights into health problems associated with a prescribed medication. During the five years that it was on the market, the drug was prescribed for 20 million patients. Eventually, Vioxx was recalled after being linked to more than 27,000 heart attacks or sudden cardiac deaths.

Janet Woodcock, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the FDA, told NPR that, “We need a rapid way to find out what's happening with drugs, especially safety of drugs, after they're approved and on the market.”

The Mini-Sentinel system relies on anonymized data including billing codes for diagnostic tests and procedures.

Leading the project build and research team is Dr. Richard Platt, a professor in the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Based on reports the FDA receives from individuals — close to a million annually — the FDA can ask Mini-Sentinel to run a query related to a drug.

Using this approach, the FDA was able to identify a link between a blood pressure drug and intestinal problems, and required the appropriate warning be added to the drug label.

The FDA is looking at other ways to leverage health care data to research drug safety too, such as the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the FDA, which was established by Congress in 2007. Speaking on behalf of the Regan-Udall Foundation, Troy McCall said, “This is a new science, and much work needs to be done to develop and continue to improve the methods behind this.”

Patient Compliance May Be the Bigger Challenge

World Heart Day falls on September 29, and it’s a great time for health care providers to tackle another problem related to prescription medications — patient compliance.

While side effects and drug interactions can lead to serious consequences, the American Heart Association® notes that “poor medication adherence takes the lives of 125,000 Americans annually, and costs the health care system nearly $300 billion a year in additional doctor visits, emergency department visits and hospitalizations.”

How can health care providers drive higher levels of patient engagement to ensure that when they prescribe treatment — whether it is for cardiac disease or another chronic ailment — the patient follows instructions?

Legislating healthy behavior is nearly impossible, as we’ve noted in a previous blog. Encouraging patients to adopt better habits, whether it is curbing caloric intake or taking medications exactly as prescribed, is only effective when the right message gets to the right person. That’s where c2b solutions’ in-depth market research and proprietary psychographic segmentation model can make a difference.  The consumer experts of c2b solutions have successfully improved patient adherence using research insights so that communications (e.g., refill reminders) resonated positively.

In one c2b case study, a company was able to use these deeper insights to drive over 70 percent participation in a 12-week intervention program for employees at risk for Metabolic Syndrome. Critical to the success of the program was the ability to classify the larger, at-risk group into five segments related to their attitudes about health care and wellness.

With these deeper insights, health care providers can make great strides towards improving patient outcomes. By understanding what motivates an individual, organizations can fine-tune messaging to connect more effectively with their targeted consumer segments. Integrated with the rich data from EHRs, this marriage of “Little Data” with “Big Data” can greatly benefit patients and the health care system.

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change

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