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Understanding what patients think and feel about their disease and medications is leading to tailored support programmes that effectively improve patient outcomes.

Exploring the psyche of the patient

Eyeforpharma recently published an article discussing how understanding the needs of individual patients is critical to designing successful support programmes.

Here’s an excerpt featuring Nagore Fernandez, Head of Patient Services for Europe at Ashfield.

‘Personalised, tailor-made support packages that consider the needs of individual patients and the trajectory of their illnesses are required, says Nagore Fernandez. She advocates building programmes around the patient journey and focusing support (and increased contact) around therapy failure points to try and overcome them, asking, ‘What’s the window in which we can lose our patients?’

“Nothing can replace insights from real people,” she says. “Human behaviour can be irrational at the best of times, let alone when there is fear, medication and a diagnosis of a disease. We need more insights into how patients think, feel and behave, but we also need the behavioural change and health psychology expertise to be able to diagnose the problems and design solutions. Then you have to have a consistent approach throughout the journey of your patient support programme.”

It is no longer enough to maintain contact with patients and provide generic information; to improve outcomes – and keep stakeholders happy – programmes must offer relevant, targeted content to patients in a focused route. The type of information patients receive can vary according to age, stage of disease or even the kind of food a person might like.

A pilot programme that supports patients starting insulin treatment is exploring how to tailor messages about medicines, diet and lifestyle changes based on cultural background, says Lisa Egbuonu-Davis, Vice President of Global Patient-Centred Outcomes and Solutions at Sanofi. “Food and language are critical expressions of culture, so the language we use when we talk about interventions and change, and the foods we suggest to people with diabetes to adapt their diet and lifestyle, need to be culturally appropriate.”

Ethnic and racial minorities have a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and are also at risk of poor diabetes outcomes. African Americans, Hispanics and South Asians are some of the fastest growing groups of people developing Type 2 diabetes in the United States, but are often missed in traditional messaging. In some communities, levels of trust in both healthcare providers and medicines remain low; this makes it is even more important to tailor messaging to increase engagement.

Sanofi’s short instructional videos, shown to patients as they begin their insulin journey, feature a diverse range of patients and healthcare providers, environments and foods, and include both clips of real people as well as cartoons with subtitles to personalise the experience.

A similar approach has been taken at Israeli start-up Telesofia Medical, where tailored advice is presented to patients in instructional videos sent out by email or text. A large bank of pre-recorded videos contain both male and female subjects, and feature specific dosages for drugs, so that a different video can be directed to a man prescribed 60ml and a young girl on a 20ml dosage. Using demographics, lab results, medical instructions and medications prescribed, videos can be customised to a patient.’

Please click here to read the full article which was originally published on

To find out more about Ashfield’s patient services can help you, contact Nagore.

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