Wave Health’s Alex Whitehead Featured on Asembia 2022 Conference Panel

Editor’s Note: CoverMyMeds is publishing recaps of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday Asembia 2022 sessions

Over 6,000 attendees are gathered this week in Las Vegas for Asembia 2022, a specialty pharmacy summit. We attended Wednesday’s sessions, which were focused on incoming tools and trends specialty pharmacists can use to help patients get the medications they need — from more affordable and available biosimilars to equitable adherence strategies.

Session: “Pharmacist Evolution: A New, More Active Role from Patient-Reported Outcomes to Developing Insights”

Presenters: Alexandra Broadus, senior director, Specialty Health Solutions, Walgreens; Melanie Radi, manager, Clinical Programs, AllianceRx Walgreens Prime; Alex Whitehead, senior director, strategy and partnerships, Treatment Technologies & Insights (TTI); Jeff Bourret, senior director, North America Medical Affairs, Inflammation & Immunology, Pfizer

Patient-reported outcomes data is essential for individualized care — full stop.ALEX WHITEHEADSenior Director, Strategy and Partnerships, Treatment Technologies & Insights (TTI)

Summary: What was discussed

Patient reported outcomes (PRO) are anything a patient directly says that’s not influenced by a clinician or other care team member. With the push to collect more real-world data, accelerated by the introduction of the 21st Century Cures Act in 2016, the industry is looking to PRO to influence public health and individualized care plans.

However, the individualization of PRO makes collecting and standardizing this data tricky. This panel of pharmacy experts examined ways specialty pharmacy can use PROs to address shifting adherence and outcomes barriers on an individual level.

Alex Whitehead, senior director of strategy and partnerships for Treatment Technologies & Insights, discussed a specialty pharmacy app that allowed patients to self-report daily symptoms, side effects and generally how they were feeling as they initiated a new medication. The app then reflected trends to the patient that could indicate triggers for symptoms. It also deep linked to educational information about symptom management. While patients are usually very active in the first week or two, they often fall off using it due to the strain of keeping up with multiple comorbidities or simply the business of life, said Melanie Radi, manager of clinical programs at AllianceRx Walgreens Prime. Such is the case for many self-reporting adherence applications.

That’s where integration with pharmacy workflows can help. Care team members could then step in when they see a patient having difficulties adhering to medications or experiencing unpleasant side effects. This can also provide an opportunity to connect with patients who may need an alternative communication method, such as a phone call where they can talk through challenges related to their condition or medication. Further benefit comes from specialty pharmacists having easy pathways to connect with care teams when they feel a drug may not be working or further clinical intervention is needed.

Key takeaways: What’s most important

Whitehead said it best. “Patient-reported outcomes data is essential for individualized care — full stop,” he said. While social determinants of health and symptom data gathering are important, taking individualized action for the patient at hand is most important to driving positive outcomes and keeping costs down for all stakeholders.

“Information gathered based on patients’ everyday behaviors might lead to different actions for different care plans,” Whitehead said. “They may be able to ask how many minutes a day someone’s doing yoga, are they praying if they’re religious or keeping in touch with their mother, for example.” Panelists emphasized the continued need for information and interventions to be offered in mediums beyond digital. Paper educational materials in multiple languages, phone calls and even locating care team members in pharmacy deserts could help access greater sets of patients who may often be forgotten or left behind, said Jeff Bourret, senior director of North America Medical Affairs, inflammation and immunology at Pfizer.

Industry call to action

Many patients want to be an active participant in their care. The industry can and should look for opportunities to partner with the patient throughout their care for an improved experience, outcomes and better adherence. Biopharma companies are often specialty pharmacy’s closest partners in developing PRO solutions, helping to define the patient journey to co-create an experience for the patient.

Specialty pharmacies who are willing to partner in creating solutions to gather and act on patient data can further let providers know what they’re learning about the patient to improve their care.