The process of developing drugs is long and expensive; the process of prescribing and ensuring patient compliance with the drug regimen is also complex. Once a medication is prescribed, there is no clear way to assess if it is being taken and how it is being taken by the patient. These challenges often result from patients’ lack of understanding about the medicine, the importance of adherence, and even why it has been prescribed in the first place.
Sometimes physicians do not have enough time to explain all of this to patients, but there are other challenges which impact patients’ willingness and ability to adhere to recommendations. These include challenges that relate to culture and the community. Pharmaceutical companies have spent a good deal of time and money to understand diverse communities, but this is often unsuccessful for a variety of reasons — they leave the community too soon, they have not developed the level of trust required, they try to influence rather than appreciate. At the end of the day, there is no impact either for the company or the patients.
Inside Edge Consulting Group (IE) has had the opportunity to partner with organizations like the International Society on Hypertension in Blacks (ISHIB) and The National Forum (NF) on initiatives to support work in the community. These programs have been sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, but their unique approach through medical societies has enabled them to have a lasting impact in the community.
ISHIB has executed two community programs to date. The first was the IMPACT CV Risk Reduction Toolkit, implemented in Baltimore, MD. This was a community initiative developed to reduce hypertension in African Americans, through a toolkit designed to increase knowledge of the impact of medication, exercise, and diet on hypertension. Participating patients received educational classes on these topics, weekly meeting with a disease educator, and home exercise and diet tools. The results of this study were published in Ethnicity and Disease in April 2015. This model was used for the second ISHIB initiative, the Legs for Life Campaign implemented in Columbus, OH.
Currently, IE is working with NF on the launch of the Stronger Hearts initiative in San Bernardino, CA. The Stronger Hearts initiative will provide 211-Hotline assistance for patients with heart failure, including information and educational resources. This initiative will kick-off in February 2015 with results to follow.
These programs highlight ways to reach the community through medical societies and organizations which provide impactful and sustainable resources to those who need them most.