How Physician EHR Use Can Lead Patients to New Therapies

Increased health IT adoption means that physician EHR use can become a means of connecting patients with novel treatments as part of clinical workflows.

By Daniel Barton of Aptus Health on

Every year, thousands of patients are newly diagnosed with chronic conditions and hundreds of new therapies enter the market. Yet connecting eligible patients to treatment plans with the potential to drive better outcomes is often fraught with challenges that physician EHR use may help resolve.

In many cases, the challenges start before the therapy even begins. The sobering fact is that primary non-adherence rates — in which patients never even fill their prescriptions — can be as high as 30%. A recent literature review cited multiple reasons for first fill abandonment rate, including patients’ lack of perceived need for the medication, concerns about the medication, affordability, access barriers to pharmacies, and forgetfulness.

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One potential solution is sitting in virtually every clinician’s office today — EHR technology. Leveraging EHR technology to engage providers and patients at the point of care and offer newly prescribed patients the opportunity to enroll in a medication management solution that addresses their healthcare needs increases the potential for successful new-to-brand patient trial therapies.

Raising awareness and connecting patients to therapies

The healthcare industry spends significant time and resources to ensure that providers are aware of the therapies available to patients. However, traditional approaches to introducing new therapies to prescribers are increasingly limited in their effectiveness. For example, in recent years providers have become less accessible than ever to life sciences companies, with over half of physicians restricting sales rep visits.

The EHR community has the opportunity to connect providers and their patients to relevant therapies and capitalize on the value of increased provider and patient engagement. Given the indispensable nature of the EHR system during a typical clinical encounter, it becomes a natural tool for proactively offering and subsequently enrolling eligible patients in therapies that have the potential to improve health outcomes.

Of course, point-of-care enrollment is just the beginning. In order to better engage patients in their therapy, the ideal first fill experience also uses this point of enrollment to ensure new medications are delivered into the hands of patients quickly, conveniently, and at no cost to the patient. Triggering a delivery service within the workflow of physician EHR use makes it easy to automatically initiate the fulfillment of a free trial medication directly to the patient’s home.

Role of the EHR in enhancing physician-patient engagement

While EHR systems have clear potential to improve patient care, it’s no secret that many clinicians are often frustrated by them, as expressed by this comment from one physician member of a popular US web and mobile community.

“The EMRs I have used have not yet evolved to allow the user to review and process information as necessary during the clinical encounter. This has led to a decrease in my ability to function and to deliver effective clinical care,” the clinician opined.

Clearly there’s an opportunity for EHR vendors to better engage these physicians and position themselves not as a barrier but a way to enhance patient engagement by offering physicians a chance to initiate a service at the point of care that patients will recognize as a benefit — helping build greater patient satisfaction, loyalty, and even better health outcomes.

Key takeaways

While the prevalence of chronic conditions continues to rise — in fact, 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year — the general approach to introducing patients to medications hasn’t evolved in decades.

What has evolved is the market’s acknowledgment of the role engagement plays in supporting positive behavior change. Today, it’s more important than ever to provide both providers and patients with a mechanism to simplify the new prescription process, thus increasing the potential for a successful treatment plan. Integrating e-prescribing and free trial medication into the physician’s workflow can maximize brand loyalty for patients, potentially reduce prescription abandonment, and better engage providers and patients in the moments when it matters most.

Daniel Barton, MEE, MBA, has over 25 years experience developing and launching innovative healthcare solutions worldwide. In his most recent roles, Barton has worked with numerous EHR market leaders in both the ambulatory and acute care markets t enable the integration of powerful new capabilities into their platforms. He can be reached at daniel.barton@aptushealth.com.

Tagged EHR and Patient EngagementMedication Non AdherencePhysician EHR Use

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