Medisafe, maker of a patient-facing app that promotes medication adherence, has completed a large international pilot in which its software improved adherence to a partnered global pharma’s cardiometabolic therapy, MobiHealthNews has learned.
Medisafe said that it was unable to disclose the identify of the international pharma partner, with whom the pilot’s success has resulted in additional plans for similar digitally-augmented programs, according to white paper materials provided by Medisafe.
However, based on the regions in which the pilot was active, the conditions being addressed and previous partnership announcements, it wouldn’t be a too far a stretch to speculate that Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is the digital adherence company’s unnamed partner organization.
“In general, what we’ve done is partnered with one of the top global pharmaceutical companies in the world, in which we made Medisafe available with a bit of their flavor alongside,” Medisafe CEO and cofounder Omri Shor told MobiHealthNews. “We partnered on patient education with the idea of ‘how can we support the patient better [by] putting Medisafe in a company app, with their therapy.’
Shor said the pilot consisted of “thousands” of patients living in Russia, Mexico or Brazil who were receiving therapy thyroid, diabetes or cardio conditions. According to the white paper, the program was launched in 2018, was available in 32 different languages and consisted of four key initiatives: onboarding with automated dosing reminders, condition-specific engagement and triggers, training of providers and sales force teams, and reinforcing patient outreach channels for recruitment and program adoption.
According to Medisafe, these approaches led to an average 13% adherence increase over the partner organization’s predetermined baselines (8% among thyroid patients, 11% among diabetes patients and 20% among cardio patients). Additionally, according to poll data collected via a Medisafe survey tool, 73% and 70% of these patients said they were very or extremely satisfied with the program and its content, respectively.
“Patients are super satisfied and happy about the solution that we gave them. If you would go to the patient and ask them how satisfied they are with a pill, in most cases they would say ‘not really,” Shor said. “This is an opportunity through partnerships to really improve the patient experience, make them more excited about their healthcare, more engaged in their healthcare, and therefore makes a real impact on the patient.”
WHY IT MATTERS
As Shor noted, the pilot is a large-scale example of good things coming from a digital-pharma partnership. In particular, he highlighted data comparing the pilot’s adherence rates to those of patients taking these medications and using the stock standard Medisafe product.
This increase — which ranged from about 7% to 10% between clinical conditions — could imply that the real-world results collected by digital health companies may be further improved by integrating those products with the resources of pharmas or other market partners.
“Pharma sometimes is under the impression that, since Medisafe is already in the market, they’re already seeing the full benefit of using Medisafe," Shor said. "Which isn’t exactly the truth — they do see some benefit, but when we partner with them, our software knowledge and their knowledge with therapeutics creates a much bigger, more meaningful outcome.”
As it stands, the pilot program, those hinted for the future, will stand among the growing list of big-name digital health-pharma collaborations.
THE LARGER TREND
The past few years has seen pharma warming up to digital health companies. More digital-focused leadership positions are cropping up across the industry’s biggest names, many of whom are going to bat for digital startups they see as enablers.
“It’s not partnerships of pharma versus [digital] but a partnership of equals,” Erik Janssen, VP of innovative solutions in neurology at UCB Biopharma, said at HIMSS Europe in June. “It is about collaboration, and it is about learning a different perspective of the complexity of healthcare as well. It is also about improvisation … You must be agile. It is also about sustainability.”
The sentiment is shared on the digital health side as well, with many seeing the established pharma infrastructure as an opportunity to scale. But that doesn’t mean these arrangements will always be a walk in the park — it’s a process that requires aligned incentives, champion stakeholders and plenty of patience.
“We predict that the visibility, credibility, and availability of digital therapeutics will continue to advance incrementally, step by step — not in one fell swoop. In turn, this will drive a progressive shift in the mindset of key influencers, entire organizations, and ultimately the healthcare industry as a whole — from pharma, health plans, health systems, and the government,” Rock Health and ZS Associates wrote in a recent report on the subject. “We also believe that the execution risks and complexity of forming pharma-[digital therapeutics] alliances will be addressed as new alliances are formed and the industry builds on the lessons learned from early successes.”