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The Psychology of Patient Engagement: Equipping Patients for a Successful Journey

The Psychology of Patient Engagement: Equipping Patients for a Successful Journey

To ensure patients can fully benefit from prescribed therapies, it’s critical to identify and address the barriers that impede their ability to access, afford, initiate, adhere to, and stay on treatment. The specialty treatment journey is a complex one, with many points along the way where these barriers can jeopardize the patient experience and health outcomes.  

The Risk of Overlooking Common Barriers  

When manufacturers launch new medications and design programs to support patients, they often focus on addressing practical issues around access and affordability:  

  • Does the patient’s insurance plan cover this therapy?  
  • Does this therapy require prior authorization?  
  • Are there high deductibles and co-pays?  
  • Is the patient eligible for financial assistance?

    Those are very real barriers that could keep patients from starting therapy. However, many psychosocial and practical factors also are known to create obstacles —and it’s important not to overlook them when designing the right patient support program. 

The Psychosocial Barriers to Treatment Success 

Negative beliefs about medications in general, or about specific pharmaceutical brands, can undermine any efforts to ensure drugs are accessible and affordable to patients.  

For example, often when case managers contact patients to provide things like reimbursement status updates, many Hubs limit the scope of the case manager's conversation to that specific topic. At CareMetx, we take a more holistic approach. We try to connect with patients at every opportunity, always looking beyond basic access barriers. For instance, if a patient is contacted  by CareMetx regarding reimbursement status, but our case manager has the opportunity to speak with the patient a bit further, they might learn that this patient isn't at all sure they need their medication. They might uncover that the patient has no transportation to get to a necessary appointment, or that the patient is very concerned about side effects. Equipping CareMetx case managers with the right talking points to address these beliefs and practical barriers goes a long way in getting patients started on and staying on therapy. 

Psychosocial and practical barriers of this nature are a real factor standing in the way of a patient’s success with any type of therapy. Particularly when diagnosis involves a severe condition like cancer, or when a patient’s expected lifespan is short, those obstacles are magnified. Patients may weigh the health benefits of a therapy against the impact on their quality of life, affecting their willingness to start and stay on treatment.  

Engaging Patients to Overcome Emotions 

Through proven strategies and techniques grounded in behavioral science, and a deep knowledge of patient barrier timelines, manufacturers can partner with CareMetx to develop support programs that set up patients for success.   

A critical component when executing a support program of this nature is an assessment of each patient’s unique barriers to therapy initiation.  This assessment should include the full spectrum of obstacles—from financial, motivational, and psychosocial factors, to barriers related to side effects, the patient’s provider relationship, and their typical medication routines.   

An effective patient support program then builds in multiple approaches and techniques for addressing each patient barrier, and influencing their treatment behavior.  Having the journey mapped out like this also enables case managers to uncover obstacles with the patient, and even identify those that might crop up later. 

Cognitive behavioral techniques can be effective at influencing the beliefs and motivations that often create barriers to successful treatment. Whether it’s challenging dysfunctional thoughts, leading goal-setting exercises, or getting a patient to recall a time when they were successful in changing a limiting behavior in the past, experienced teams can help eliminate psychosocial and emotional obstacles to therapy. 

Educational techniques can change behaviors that stem from a lack of knowledge or misperceptions about a drug. Depending on the patient’s concerns, the educational information provided will focus on the disease state, the drug’s efficacy or safety, or how to administer it properly. Repeating educational messages, delivering messages across a mix of channels, and using the teach-back method (asking the patient to state back what the case manager just explained, to confirm understanding) are all proven approaches to influencing adherence behavior. 

Self-management techniques empower patients to adopt a proactive approach to managing their health, which includes teaching skills and instilling habits that will help a patient succeed with a prescribed therapy.  

Those skills and habits might include: 

  • Getting into the routine of calling the pharmacy for a refill,  
  • Setting reminders for when to take or refill a drug, 
  • Developing the comfort level to contact a physician or pharmacist themselves rather than relying on a family member.            

Proven strategies and techniques like these are integrated into the patient journey at the most appropriate touchpoints, using an effective mix of engagement channels, which can both vary based on the disease state, therapy type, and manufacturer objectives.  

Most often, the support program for enrolled patients includes a combination of phone, text, and email touches throughout the initiation, adherence, and persistence phases of the care journey. While case managers are equipped to provide the support that a patient may need to start and stay on treatment, they make sure to always be clear about their role with patients, so they will never be misconstrued as providing medical advice or serving as the patient’s personal therapist.    

When CareMetx designs and develops a patient support program tailored to a manufacturer’s particular therapeutic, we incorporate strategies, techniques, and approaches proven to engage patients and positively influence their treatment behavior. By leveraging effective cognitive behavioral, educational, and self-management techniques and very practical solutions, our patient support programs deliver strong results—including higher initiation and persistence rates for enrolled patients. 

If you want to learn more, contact CareMetx today to discuss how our hub services technology and patient engagement platform can improve your initiation and persistence rates.

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