Design thinking

Combination Products, Companion Apps and Patient Adherence

Thomas Nilsson

Adherence continues to be a significant factor in attaining positive outcomes for patients with chronic illness, as low adherence often results in poor clinical outcomes, lost revenue and increased costs for many stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem.

Combination products help improve patient adherence

Combination products that merge both packaging and delivery systems have helped reduce some of the common barriers to compliance, such as discomfort, anxiety and cost. But because of the increasing number of self-administered products (administered by patients and caregivers themselves rather than healthcare practitioners), delivery devices need to minimize discomfort and be easy to use. Perhaps just as important to adherence, these combination products should work in a way that’s compatible with a patient’s lifestyle and easily assimilate into their daily routine. Whether as a standalone system or in combination with digital tools like companion apps, developing innovative combination products is an important step toward improved patient adherence.

A shift from drug-centric to patient-centric

When devices are intuitive and efficient, they reduce the impact on a patient’s daily life and increase the potential for optimum adherence. Conversely, delivery and administration systems deemed inconvenient can negatively affect a patient’s emotional attitude and motivation to sustain adherent behavior. The shift from a drug-centric focus to a patient-centric focus helps pharma companies develop the right systems for their customers and ultimately helps improve patient health. To address the multiple barriers to adherence, drug delivery designers are creating more sophisticated devices that minimize discomfort and foster improved patient experience. However, another obstacle is rooted in patient motivation, and companies need to design self-injection devices that patients are not only “able” to use but also “want” to use.

Digitization in healthcare

Digital technology and services are an important part of our modern lifestyle. Music is streamed, people keep in touch, and appointments are made with our smartphones. Using this important everyday technology in coherence with patients and delivery allows patients to feel more connected with the process and better position themselves to maintain good adherence.

 

In a time where demands in the marketplace are increasing to address growing healthcare costs and improved patient adherence is rising, the future for combination products – and the patients that rely on them – is bright.

Together, Veryday healthcare teams in the US and the EU recently achieved several advances with combination products that engage patients and reward them for adhering to treatment regimens, such as taking advantage of opportunities for additional education on chronic conditions or gamification of adherence tracking. Some applications allow patients to easily track their dose history, which can be analyzed and shared with healthcare practitioners and results in improved outcomes.

Combination products offer an emerging solution to the ongoing challenges around patient adherence. Significant breakthroughs are emerging at a time when patients and healthcare providers desperately need them. Starting off with better design and usability, as well as expanding to provide opportunities to reward users for adherence increases the potential for improved outcomes at large. In a time where demands in the marketplace are increasing to address growing healthcare costs and improved patient adherence is rising, the future for combination products – and the patients that rely on them – is bright.