Sarah has just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She is frightened and confused – especially about her new medication. Thanks to a patient support programme run by Ashfield Healthcare, Sarah can source the information she needs and ensure she sticks to her new medication regime.
“On average doctors spend only 49 seconds explaining to a patient the different aspects of a newly prescribed medication,” said Nagore Fernandez, Head of Patient Solutions for Ashfield in Europe. “When someone has just been diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening condition, they have lots of questions. Our programmes help to answer some of these questions and track how patients are coping with their treatment plan.”
Without access to the programme, Sarah might have become one of the millions of patients that fail to take prescribed therapies as instructed. Lack of adherence by patients, which currently runs at about 50% globally, costs the pharmaceutical industry $564 billion every year in the US alone.
By harnessing digital technologies, Ashfield is now blazing a trail in personalised healthcare to ensure patients like Sarah maximise the benefits of their support programmes and prescribed medications.
“With Salesforce, we can develop tailored programmes with the goal of improving outcomes not just for patients but the entire ecosystem of stakeholders involved in a patient’s care,” said Nareda Mills, President of Patient Solutions for Ashfield in the US.
Ashfield has provided patient support programmes for 16 years across a range of conditions and diseases, including rare/orphan disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes. Multiple systems storing disparate data had resulted in a fragmented patient experience and made it difficult for clinical educators to track the full patient journey and provide feedback to prescribers.
“It’s really important that we have a quick and easy way to update physicians about how their patients are doing on a new medication,” explained Mills. “Far too often, doctors only learn a patient has stopped taking medications at a check-up several months later. This can increase the burden on the entire healthcare system and impact a patient’s wellbeing.”
To improve visibility and deliver a more seamless patient experience, Ashfield has developed a ground-breaking mobile solution to underpin its support programmes. Built on Health Cloud, Salesforce Shield, and Field Service Lightning, the new solution will empower around 1,000 clinical educators working both in local communities and contact centres around the world.
As well as facilitating the feedback process with physicians, the new solution also enables field-based clinical educators to view their daily schedules and new patient referrals via their iPads. Integration with Google Maps helps the team to maximise their time when travelling between appointments.
With contact centre colleagues also using the same solution, Ashfield now has a 360-degree of interactions with patients on its support programmes for the first time. “If an individual rings the contact centre to discuss a problem with their medication, a clinical educator in the field can be alerted to make an urgent home visit to get the patient back on track,” said Fernandez.
This 360-degree view enables Ashfield to provide its pharmaceutical clients with real-time reports about the success of different patient support programmes. “We go beyond the traditional factors associated with non-adherence,” explained Fernandez. “We also look at patient psychology, and educate our teams about underlying issues that might impact attitudes to medication.”
Mills and Fernandez exploited their experiences as a nurse and a pharmacist when designing the solution. “It’s very much our baby,” revealed Mills. And they want to make sure it keeps growing. “With Salesforce, we can tap into a constant flow of new features, which will enable us to adapt the solution to meet new client and patient needs,” she added.
The ability to keep innovating is a key differentiator for Ashfield, which works with the world’s top 20 pharmaceutical companies. “Patient support programmes evolve over their lifetime,” said Fernandez. “We need to stay nimble, and help our clients explore new ways to engage with patients.”
Connected devices are increasingly becoming part of the healthcare landscape – whether it involves wearables, digital self-testing kits, or virtual assistants. “IoT opens up a whole new world where data can be shared automatically with physicians and patients,” said Fernandez.
And Ashfield wants its patient support programmes to be part of this world. It has already started work on a pilot with Salesforce to explore the art of the possible. “We want to take advantage of connected devices to deliver a more effective and efficient service to all our stakeholders,” added Fernandez.