Director of Pharmacy Solutions
Better prescription compliance
Ateb sifts prescription data to improve patient outcomes
When patients begin taking a long-term medication – perhaps to control diabetes, hypertension, or other chronic condition – they start a lifelong, possibly daunting, regimen of daily doses, monthly refills, copayments, pharmacy visits and/or mail orders. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, many patients fail to keep up with their prescribed medications and dosages.
The causes range from forgetfulness to cost issues to unwelcome side effects, but the consequences can be severe. Experts estimate that a lack of patient compliance with prescription-drug protocols costs as much as $300 billion when preventable complications arise. More importantly, as many as 200,000 patients a year experience a near-death or fatal incident because of improper use of medications; half of which are easily preventable with proper guidance and intervention.
Effectively, we've seen a 150 to 200% ROI, and our time to market for setting up new clients is very fast – which has tremendous value to our business.
To keep patients healthy and to improve patient compliance with prescribed therapies, many pharmacies rely on Ateb Inc., a leading provider of patient-messaging solutions. According to Frank Sheppard, Ateb's Chief Executive Officer, the company's inbound and outbound direct-to-patient communications gives pharmacies a HIPAA-compliant way to re-engage customers and improve clinical outcomes.
"We have access to a wealth of data; our challenge is to sift through that data to identify engagement opportunities," he says. "In a very basic example, we might notice a customer who hasn't refilled within 40 days – about 10 days longer than usual. We can place an automated outbound call to remind the patient to refill the prescription, which keeps the patient compliant. Or we might have an insulin-dependent diabetes patient who has stopped purchasing test strips – that would merit some intervention as well."
Identifying the predictive factors
Since its clients manage hundreds of millions of prescription transactions, Ateb must sift through enormous volumes of data. Using SAS solutions for midsize business, Ateb has constructed sophisticated models and analyses that identify the correlations and characteristics that predict noncompliance, enabling Ateb's pharmacy clients to intervene faster, increase adherence, and improve patient outcomes.
"SAS is helping us process huge volumes of data to determine which patients should be contacted and why," explains Robb Ayshford, Director of Pharmacy Solutions. "SAS helps us define the early identifiers of those who are most likely to become lapsed patients and those who are more likely to respond favorably to patient messaging and intervention."
In addition, SAS is also instrumental in Ateb’s efforts to demonstrate the efficacy of its patient-messaging programs over the long term. “We use SAS to measure our impact from a longitudinal perspective,” says Sheppard. “We can see if our calls led to increased fill rates and better compliance in the future without intervention.” Already, Ateb has learned that proactive refills will increase 8-15 percent in one year per medication. In a market that has seen a flattening of prescription volumes and thinner margins as many popular drugs go off-patent, the added volume means a healthier bottom line for pharmacies.
One lesson that Ateb underscores in its client engagements: Time is of the essence. "You get the maximum impact from patient messaging if you identify at-risk patients and intervene quickly," says Ayshford. "You want to communicate with the patient before a lapse pattern is established and engrained. Convincing a patient who's been out of compliance for three months to re-up a prescription is exponentially more difficult. That's where SAS is so helpful for us. We can spot these targets much faster. We've shortened our analytic cycle times 300 to 400 percent in the last year using SAS. It's making us more efficient, and that labor savings alone justifies our investment. Effectively, we've seen a 150 to 200 percent ROI, and our time to market for setting up new clients is very fast – which has tremendous value to our business."
“There are exceptional opportunities in this market. We anticipate creating more sophisticated analyses that let us be even more proactive by combining pharmacy and medical knowledge to create earlier levels of predictability and greater levels of accuracy. There are also opportunities to integrate payers into the process and help them understand the value that pharmacies deliver in managing health care outcomes. To present this vision, we need a very strong analysis that demonstrates a meaningful impact. "That’s what SAS does exceptionally well,” Ayshford concludes.
Identify patients at risk of lapsing from their long-term prescription regimens and help pharmacy clients with interventional patient-messaging campaigns to prevent and correct lapses to improve patient outcomes and increase prescription volumes.
Now Ateb can sift through millions of prescription transactions to find combinations of factors that equate to a higher propensity to lapse. Improved the speed of model building and the accuracy of the results, equating to a 150 to 200% ROI.