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Key ingredients to change behaviour and improve adherence

In the second blog in our patient support series, ‘How to master collaboration for PSP success’, we discussed the importance of working with internal and external stakeholders to understand everyone’s needs and concerns, so that care plans can be designed to address these.

However, even with insight into the needs of different stakeholders and patients’ adherence challenges, you may not meet your objectives. You won’t necessarily create successful care plans that result in patients taking their medication properly and adhering to it.

The reason? You’re aiming to change people’s existing behaviour and the psychology of human behaviour is complex and context-driven.

Step 3: Key ingredients to successfully change behaviour

Based on over 16 years of experience developing patient support programmes, we recognise five successful ingredients to change behaviour:

  1. Deep insight into how patients think, feel and behave
  2. Health psychology expertise to diagnose the problems and design solutions
  3. A map of possible therapy failure points to ensure appropriate interventions are in place
  4. A consistent approach from the insights, to design and delivery of the programme
  5. The agility to respond to individual needs and change

The deep insight that drives much of this work comes from talking and listening to patients, their caretakers, and their prescribers.

Working with health psychologists, we use a behavioural change model, COM-B* which provides a map for understanding all the different areas which influence behaviour.  The main components of this interacting system are Capability, Opportunity and Motivation.

The COM-B model helps us:

  • Ask patients the right breadth and depth of questions
  • Analyse and make sense of what they tell us
  • Identify segments and personas, based on risk factors and barriers to adherence
  • Create tailored care plans to counter these barriers, with appropriate messaging, touch points and frequency

Behavioural change is also embedded in the way we deliver our care plans. All our nurses are trained on COM-B theory and motivational interviewing techniques. We ensure that the look, feel and messaging of materials are right for individual patients, and their particular non-adherence challenges.

We also have to acknowledge that individuals change over time. Perhaps they respond really well to nurse support, or perhaps they have a change in their situation such as loss of a partner or carer. Lots of different things can affect an individual’s risk of non-adherence.

Understanding this from the outset and building in feedback loops to effect change along the way will lead to much better and more consistent results.  A successful, agile patient support programme does the following:

  • Concentrates on individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Delivers patient programmes that work over excessive documentation
  • Responds to insights rather than rigidly proceeding without adapting to data

Ashfield is a partner that offers the agility and expertise to help you positively change patient behaviour.

Next in the series: Integrating channels and data for patient support programmes

Want more information now? Contact Nagore to find out how we can help you.


* Michie et al 2011, Michie et al 2014

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