How were patients faring on the new class of novel oral anticoagulants (NOACS) relative to warfarin? Were the new agents having an impact on overall outcomes? And where did unmet needs continue to exist? Several years after the introduction of the NOAC class, these questions, as well as others, remained. Our client asked us to take them on. They saw the project not just as means to gather insights for the marketing of their own asset for treatment of AF, but equally important, as an opportunity to add to the general body of knowledge on the topic, and the health of our nation’s 3 million atrial fibrillation patients.
With those goals in mind, we put together the Atrial Fibrillation Think Tank Consortium. 12 expert advisors were hand-picked by our team. They represented a spectrum of functions and organizations — academicians, physicians, directors, and executives, from managed care, accountable care, integrated delivery networks, hospitals and hospital systems, pharmacies, and medical societies — and they had varied positions regarding preferred anticoagulant therapy. We prepped all attendees ahead of time with backgrounders on the AF treatment landscape. Then, in a day- and-a-half session, we led discussions around a unique analysis of Medicare administrative claims data — designed by our team to provide the kind of insight our client was looking for and executed by a non-profit partner we identified specifically for this project, the National Minority Quality Forum.
The reaction of the advisors to the information was electric. Individuals were standing up to see the presentation better. Lively dialogue filled the room. There was something of value for every participant, including the experience of working with such a diverse team to probe new data, identify treatment gaps, and drive to powerful recommendations in an area they were all passionate about. Our client was able to build a list of specific tactics to support their asset, but the Think Tank discussions, as hoped, generated an immediate sense of urgency among many in the group to do something bigger with what they had learned. About twelve months after the meeting, a joint manuscript outlining their recommendations, “A Call for Appropriate Evidence and Outcomes-Based Use and Measurement of Anticoagulation for Atrial Fibrillation: Moving the Population Towards Improved Health Via Multiple Stakeholders,” was published in the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy.