This is a question most of us hear when picking up prescriptions at a pharmacy. But, have you ever questioned the information the pharmacist gives you? Were his or her answers accurate? Did that information take your personal situation, such as your medical history, into consideration? What’s the source of the information they provide, anyway?
In a recent Pharmacy Times article, David Blaser, the director of health informatics at PatientsLikeMe, a website and research platform in which patients track and share their own health-related experiences, discusses the notion of leveraging real world data to educate patients on their prescription usage. Using data gathered from patients, once it’s been approved for a wider population, can help provide better insight into the pros and cons of various therapies.
As we know, most of the warnings on a drug’s label, as well as the recommended dosages, were originally derived from clinical trials that consisted of smaller patient populations. We also know that drug safety information gets added to a label as more patients use the medication. Historically, this has been the source of the information that pharmacists share with patients who ask questions.
But, in today’s digital age, in which patients actively monitor and manage their own health more than ever, the ability to leverage vast amounts of data found in online repositories that capture self-reported patient data can give pharmacists and physicians alike a more complete picture of a drug’s safety profile. This information can then help healthcare providers better educate patients, potentially leading to better outcomes.
David, who also happens to be a pharmacist, shares how PatientsLikeMe has partnered with Walgreens to enable patients who are researching a medication or ordering a prescription from the Walgreens website to view self-reported data from other patients who have taken that medication.
Empowering patients to self-report adverse events, and leveraging what they report to improve the health of other patients or set the right expectations, is the right approach to gathering real world data and prescribing medicine. Connecting disparate systems never meant to play together also presents benefits to all parties involved, on both the consumer and business sides. This is exactly how life sciences and healthcare should be delivered. This is digital transformation at its best.