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Are Patients Getting Their Telehealth ‘Fix’


With the emergence of CV-19 just about every health care provider has been scrambling to do something to preserve their patient relationships. A patient that hangs alone on the vine with no tender loving care is one that may not only experience a decline in health but also a possible change in provider of care….. be it a hospital, a physician, or ‘oh no’ their pharmacy.

Specialty pharmacies have significantly ramped up patient outreach in recent years recognizing that more contact directly correlates with better outcomes, avoided adverse events, and better compliance and persistence. Telehealth is one of the methods that showed great promise as it is applicable to just about any disease / condition under the specialty pharmacy umbrella.

The article below goes further and suggests that telehealth goes together with rare and orphan diseases like a hand in glove. As stated, “A recent analysis found that telehealth visits increased 50% in March 2020, and a recent poll showed that more than 1 in 8 Americans engaged in a video consult with a health care professional in recent months. Those are strong numbers.

However, rare and orphan diseases are a lot more complicated and may not be so easy to support using the telehealth medium. For one, it demands that the health professional be well versed in the disease and all associated medications. That is a tall order even for most pharmacists and nurses. Non-clinicians simply can’t rely on even a well-crafted computer-based call scripts to ensure that the telehealth ‘visit’ passes clinical muster.

So, is there a role for telehealth in rare and orphan diseases clinical management? Yes.
We suggest that specialty pharmacies that work this segment well document their telehealth protocols and even measure the value from the effort….. and the expense. It will also go a long way to put a shine on their rare disease apple with patients, physicians, payers and, especially, manufacturers.

Pharmacy-Integrated Telehealth Solutions Support Patients with Orphan and Ultraorphan Disorders During and After COVID-19 Pandemic

2020-11-24 — During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, patients with orphan and ultra-orphan diseases have been challenged to get much-needed therapy adherence support. This means that 30 million Americans with a range of 7000 rare or orphan diseases—including Huntington disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Cushing syndrome, α1-antitrypsin, chronic immune thrombocytopenic purpura, and muscular dystrophy—have been at greater risk while self-protecting.

Many of these patients have struggled with reduced care, isolation, and adherence issues for most of their lives, but they now face elevated stressors because they are immunosuppressed, conscious of infection, and hypersensitive to viral threats. Adding to the challenge is that some pharmacies have reduced their hours. This impacts communication with physicians, which has already been severely disrupted due to the need for social distancing.

As an integral part of the care team, pharmacies serve as lifelines for these patients by helping to prevent lapses in continuity of care. For this reason, pharmacists who integrate with a telehealth solution can ensure that patients in rural locations—and those now living in self-imposed isolation—have consistent and reliable contact with pharmacy services during these unprecedented times.

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