I recently had the chance to attend the World Congress Summit on Specialty Market Access and Channel Optimization–- with my colleague, Dr. Thomas Morrow. The summit was an opportunity for innovative healthcare-industry leaders to dialogue on a number of issues, but overwhelmingly, the challenge on the minds of attendees was how to deal with an outcome-wrecking lack of patient adherence – a problem that’s 69% behavioral (simple procrastination and forgetfulness).
This year’s event was especially exciting, because a presentation made before Dr. Morrow took the stage pointed to a belated, but nascent trend toward addressing this issue with technology.
Currently, the digital presence of most specialty pharmacy organizations consists of a website that’s little more than a glorified business card. Bucking this trend is Avella, a specialty pharmacy who shared an overview of their new mobile app and told the story of the grueling but fruitful development process.
As specialty pharmacies like Avella flesh-out their digital self-help strategies, I noticed a piece of the puzzle that’s still missing: A way to ensure that patients will actually use these tools.
To be effective, a health app needs to not only remove barriers to adoption by being easy to use, but also be designed with patient-psychology in mind so that it can create sustained engagement. An interface built on natural-language facilitated artificial intelligence checks both of these boxes. Because patients need only to talk to the app’s virtual health assistant to accomplish their goals, there’s no learning curve, and, as detailed in this Healthcare IT News article, the emotional bonds formed by patients interacting with virtual health assistants promote engagement.
Rather than being just another app that gets lost in the fray, a virtual health assistant allows healthcare organizations to offer an ally that’s a personal concierge, confidante, nurse, friend, pharmacist, coach, monitor and counselor.
During the event, Dr. Morrow was interviewed by Specialty Pharmacy Times, and here’s what he had to say about virtual health assistant technology and the impact it will have on the future of healthcare.