Pharmaceutical companies and their brand teams are always looking for new ways to communicate with physicians at the point of care. They should help physicians recognize electronic health records (EHRs) as being more than just digital workflows for electronic prescribing (ePrescribing) and patient care. Some 80% of ambulatory physicians now have EHRs, which present a ready-made vehicle for brand teams to promote their products and place their brand services at physicians’ fingertips. Here are four opportunities.
Promoting new-to-practice brands. A brand that is new to a practice (compared to a new product) may be overlooked by a physician during a patient office visit because the EHR steers the prescriber toward medications that have been prescribed previously. With a new-to-practice medication, the system is unfamiliar with the product. This means the EHR needs to “remember” the medication so it will be front and center when the physician starts to consider patient treatment options. Adding such a drug to a prescriber’s “favorites list” in the EHR’s ePrescribing module takes care of the problem and promotes use of the product.
Overcoming barriers. Brand teams can help physicians who are using a drug for the first time to overcome obstacles, which could serve as a barrier to adoption. For example, it may be frustrating for health care professionals to prescribe nontablet formulations for the first time. These include drugs that are injected, inhaled or delivered in ointment form. Starting doses, prescription quantities and other relevant information might not be available in the ePrescribing module. Brand teams can help by providing product-specific information for the EHR to ensure that it is available — and accurate — for use with future prescriptions. Ease of ePrescribing helps ensure ease of prescriber acceptance and use.
Gaining new patients. Physicians tend to use a small subset of functions available in their EHR and may not be familiar with all the tools that exist and how they can be used. Brand teams can assist practices in leveraging features of EHRs to identify new patients — especially for brands in new therapeutic areas. Physicians can use EHRs to run reports that will help identify patients meeting qualifications for a particular therapy. The brand team can help by providing the parameters for a drug’s use, which are likely to be unfamiliar to the prescriber, and the criteria that need to be added to the practice’s EHRs. The team also could create resources to assist physicians and practice staff in establishing criteria to run a report of patients who qualify for a product that is new to the practice. In some cases, these reports will reveal untreated patients having a gap in care that can then be addressed.
Identifying patients needing treatments or alternatives. Prescribers also can use EHRs to identify patients requiring treatment for a particular condition or those already on a treatment that is not working well who may need to be put on an alternative medication. Using EHR-based patient surveys and screening tools can help a practice identify patients who have not improved or are at a point where treatment intensification is required. Brand teams can work with physicians to take advantage of these features in their EHRs, which can help them improve the quality of care they provide as well as meet their quality targets for shared reimbursement and other value-based payment programs.
Pharmaceutical brand teams should be adding an EHR strategy to complement those for print, Web and digital. EHRs can be an important vehicle for supporting brands while enriching prescriber relationships. To learn more, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (877) 312-7627, extension 2.
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