By Dr. Terry Olson, Vice President of Behavioral Solutions, PrescribeWellness

Retail pharmacists are now being positioned as the new “foot soldiers” for preventive healthcare services in America. They are beginning to offer new services that improve their patients’ knowledge about prevention and treatment of their disease states. Now the pharmacist needs to learn how to manage these programs. 

In the healthcare community, particularly in the pharmacy space, there is the growing realization that personalized digital intervention (PDI) communication strategies need to be tailored to patients’ specific disease states and chronic conditions to make a real difference in improving outcomes. PDI can best be described as the new gold standard approach to impacting these results through improved provider-to-patient communications that run parallel to the patient’s treatment supporting the management of chronic conditions (e.g., diabetes, hypertension, etc.). This new technology aims to facilitate important provider-to-patient communication using the channels, content, and frequency necessary to address the individual patient’s specific preferences and healthcare needs. This easy-to-use communication foundation results in patients’ increased ability to have healthier lives through behavioral change programs, chronic disease management, and medication adherence regimens.

To offer the best programming management, quality pharmacy-driven communications should place patient-centered care at its foundation. This tailored treatment approach should focus on patient values and priorities instead of the disease itself. Quality ongoing communications should focus on how illness affects each individual patient, the ability to share patients’ perspective on their own illness management, attention to holistic approaches to promote good health, and most importantly, attention to improving the relationship between the patient and the pharmacy throughout the process. In addition, quality healthcare communications and digital programs should involve the support of the patient’s key family members. These examples highlight the importance of personalizing digital interventions, and emphasize the importance of information and strategy synchronization across the care delivery experience that is unique to each patient.

Today, some would argue that communication is the most important ingredient to patient care. Both the American College of Graduate Medical Education and the Association of American Colleges and Universities recognize the crucial role that communication plays as a core competency in interpersonal relationships between the pharmacy and its customers. Despite its importance, communication between pharmacist and patient often remains superficial in nature. The pharmacist’s time is always limited, leaving less time for patient education and motivation for postmedical intervention.

Unfortunately, standards for digital communications over the past 20 years in the pharmacy space have taken shape with “robocalls.” In an attempt to communicate to a large volume of patients while trying to reduce time and costs, pharmacists choose to send out computerized auto-dialer calls, usually in a computer-enhanced “robotic” voice, to deliver their patient messages. As a result, patients often receive information that is not useful, and such impersonal methods often create frustration and confusion as patients attempt to interact with an automated system that is not equipped to handle their needs.

Fortunately, recent advances in personalized digital interventions have proven to be more effective in increasing and improving patient outcomes and patient loyalty. Today’s advancements in PDI technology are allowing each patient to attain his or her own personal healthcare goals with a virtual coach to help better manage chronic conditions.CT