After nearly a decade of examining the adherence challenges and interventions of multiple disease categories, it’s become apparent that the pharmaceutical industry inherently believes that it can change patients’ adherence behavior behavior just by providing information. In our adherence analyses, we consistently see companies generating reams of new product or disease information intended to educate patients on the importance of adhering to therapy and the potential risks of non-adherence. This level of time and monetary investment is a clear indicator that marketers believe that awareness (or ignorance) is the primary contributing factor to the non-adherent behavior they are trying to mitigate.
Unfortunately, if this approach is the sum total of your adherence mitigation strategy, you’re likely wasting your money. Don’t believe me? Well, let’s consider an adherence topic a bit closer to home.
How many of you regularly get some form of exercise at least 3 days per week? How many of you eat a healthy, balanced diet every single day without consuming too many calories? How many of you are at the ideal body weight or BMI? I’m guessing that not all of my readers have their hands up right now. I know I don’t.
Now, how many of you know that this behavior is critical to your long-term health? Given my audience, I truly hope that everyone has their hands raised now.
So, if we all know how we should behave with regard to diet and exercise, why don’t we do it – all the time? Well, because behavior, whether it’s related to maintaining health or overcoming a deadly disease or addiction cannot be changed solely by providing information and education.
In order to truly change behavior, the adherence programs in which you invest require behavior modification techniques. What do I mean by this? Well, we probably all know at least one person who has lost considerable weight and begun and stuck with a regular exercise program after working with a trainer or joining Weight Watchers. That’s because these people and programs don’t just preach, but provide tools and guidance to help modify people’s behavior over the long-term.
That’s great, but you may be wondering how we can apply this type of behavior modification within Pharma. Well, here are a few well-known techniques that, when used appropriately, have been shown to impact behavior and ultimately patient adherence over time.
- Motivational Interviewing
- Expectation Setting
- Observational Learning
- Cognitive Behavior Restructuring
Next time you go to build or update an adherence program for your brand, you should seriously consider making investments in behavior change techniques as the foundation upon which you build your adherence efforts. Including this approach will be a big step to ensure that the time, energy, and financial resources you are allocating will, in fact, move the needle.