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Effective Patient Engagement & Adherence: Do’s and Dont’s

UBC’s Director of Commercial Strategy and Client Engagement Kelly Elio, RN, discusses how effective patient engagement drives patient adherence.

Adherence comes from the Latin word adhaerentia, which means “stick to.” So adherence is the ability to abide by a doctor’s recommendations with respect to the timing, dose, and frequency of my newly prescribed medication. But in terms of designing a patient support program, it’s important to recognize that adherence is unique to the individual, their beliefs, behaviors, and the task to which they are expected to be adherent. The best approach to designing an adherence program is holistic and considers the patient’s entire well-being, both physically and emotionally.

Today, many traditional hub programs focus first on patient access and then on a patient’s adherence journey, but our strategy puts both access and adherence support services on a level playing field with personalized outreach designed to prompt patients at the right time and at the right place. The key theme in our design is engagement.

We strongly believe that a patient’s motivations and beliefs towards their diagnosis and treatment have an impact on their decision to adhere to a new medication schedule and/or a new lifestyle.  A patient’s adherence journey begins at the moment they are diagnosed and a decision is made to start on treatment, not after their first dose is taken.  This acknowledgment is a key step in our patient support design and engagement strategy.

It’s just as important to understand a patient’s feelings and emotions towards their treatment when discussing their insurance status or supporting financial discussions, as it is for one of our registered nurses to educate on product administration or side effect management. If we are not engaging patients early, assessing needs, and building rapport there will be a downstream effect, that in turn negatively impacts a patient’s overall adherence.

The customized engagement we offer to patients and their stakeholders streamlines communication and provides treatment information at the right time in the right modality that works best for our patients. In 2020, UBC launched UBC Pathways® Engage providing patients with an intelligent mobile messaging solution to create meaningful relationships with patients in a completely different way than that of utilizing an app or traditional phone calls. The launch of UBC Pathways® Engage and our virtual assistant technology, named Linda, allows us to establish trust early and build relationships with our patients in a digital fashion. Early in our patient journeys, we spend time ‘getting to know’ our patients, evaluating both patient and family needs, conducting assessments, and customizing specific interventions to overcome individual barriers to treatment.

Over the past year and a half amid a global health crisis, the ability to provide virtual engagement tools and connect with patients on their terms has never been more important. The combination of UBC Pathways® Engage, coupled with our virtual nurse educators provides valuable support to patients when and wherever they need it. We understand that communication preferences for patients, physicians, and caregivers are constantly in flux and the amount of information and outreach is overwhelming at times.  Our patient journeys offer the right combination of engagement to allow for patient independence and autonomy, thus helping patients be successful at starting and staying on therapy.

One example of our recent adherence success yielded strong outcomes for patients suffering from opioid and alcohol dependence. UBC demonstrated value to our client by providing customized engagement focused on both access services and clinical education within a challenging disease state. These combined services improved a patient’s adherence to ongoing therapy appointments and medication schedules.

In a year filled with much uncertainty and skepticism about the future state of healthcare access and delivery, the ability for us to build connections with our patients has never been more critical. The compassion, empathy, and clinical expertise provided every day by UBC’s experienced team of nurses can never be replaced by technology but rather by allowing technology to complement our patient engagements provides the balance our patients need to stay informed.

Approaching each and every patient engagement as if the patient is our friend, colleague, family member, or loved one, allows our staff to put ourselves in the shoes of our patients and provide a compassionate and comfortable environment for patients to feel supported.

To learn how we can design a custom patient support program that focuses on both adherence and access, get in touch with us here.

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Bekki Bracken Brown

President & Chief Executive Officer

Bekki Bracken Brown serves as the President and CEO of UBC, guiding the company’s mission and values, including the improvement of access for patients to receive better outcomes. She oversees all aspects of UBC, such as operations, business growth strategy, sales and marketing, and acquisition support.

With over 20 years of industry experience, Ms. Brown brings knowledge from a successful career in senior management from her tenure at Quintiles, INC Research, and, most recently, with Syneos Health. She’s been a member of the North Carolina BIO Board of Directors since 2019. She is also a member of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association — Southeast Chapter and CHIEF, an organization that supports women executive leaders. Ms. Brown earned her bachelor’s degree at Duke University.