PSPhere puts patients at the center of their care journey, connects them to key stakeholders, and leverages technology to help them achieve better outcomes. A patient-centric approach, which considers a comprehensive view of the patient’s health, incorporates key elements such as patient education, psychological assistance, nutritional counselling, and lifestyle adjustments to a patient’s treatment plan.
In my home country, Australia, hospitals and respiratory clinics have been grappling with severe capacity constraints, which have resulted in long waiting times for a specialist appointment of up to 17 months, even for some patients facing life-threatening situations.
In 2021, alongside a key client of ours, DKSH Australia converted an offline patient education program to a digitized program, which focuses on educating patients on managing their healthcare needs and providing them with tools and resources to take control of their own health. With this program, patients were still able to receive the care they needed without compromising on safety, particularly during the severe pandemic-related lockdowns.
The program includes a range of services such as at-home nurse injection visits, medication deliveries, timely reminders, and convenient on-demand tele-support by our team of experienced and licensed nurse educators.
Nurse educators play a vital role in our patient-centered approach by actively engaging with patients throughout their treatment journey. They provided timely updates to the patients’ treating physician, including the recording and reporting of adverse events. The program has been highly successful, with a global persistence rate of 95% and over 1,900 patients currently enrolled. To date, 62% of patients are fully equipped with the knowledge to conduct self-administration.
This program was also recognized by the Australian pharmaceutical industry and won an award for Excellence in Patient Support and has since expanded to New Zealand, where it continues to improve the lives of patients.
Vietnam, where I have been living and working for more than many years, has been described as a “forerunner in the region” by The World Bank Group for its huge progress toward accelerating Universal Health Coverage (UHC) through heavy investments from the Government. UHC is a concept that ensures every person, regardless of their financial or social status, has access to quality and affordable health services – including prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care. By the end of 2022, more than 92 percent of the population, comprising 91.1 million people, participated in the UHC. As reported by the World Bank Group, Vietnam’s current life expectancy rate is at 75 years – with 7.7% of the total population being over 65 years old. Vietnam is on the cusp of an aging population, where the number of people over 65 is expected to rise to around 20.4% of the total population by 2050.
As the total population continues to grow, urbanize, and experience a shift in age distribution, there will be a surge in demand for health services – particularly for Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and chronic lung illnesses in Vietnam.
According to the Global Burden of Diseases Study in 2019, the Vietnam’s Socio-Demographic Index (SDI) has been steadily increasing over the years. The same study has shown clear distinction on the causes of deaths between a low-mid SDI market versus a high SDI market – in which a larger percent of deaths is associated to NCDs (about 24% more). As Vietnam inches towards being a mid-to-high SDI market, the healthcare industry must be prepared to handle the rise in such diseases and illnesses.
Being the leading Market Expansion Services provider across four Business Units, including Healthcare, it is clear to us that the faster we prepare for this expected rise in demand for healthcare, the better we can help to lessen the burden on the national healthcare system.
With in-depth knowledge across markets and the healthcare industry, DKSH has been focusing on enriching our patient solution program, PSPhere, with well-designed adherence programs such as: face-to-face visits, video visits, and educational portals to improve patient adherence rates by educating patients and empowering them to take charge of their healthcare.
Patient adherence remains one of the key global problems across the healthcare industry, especially for chronic diseases – in which patient adherence is estimated to only be around 50% in high-income markets, and much lower in low-mid-income markets.
According to G.D. Chauke et al (2022), poor adherence in low-mid-income markets is largely influenced by the lack of knowledge, negative attitudes, and negative beliefs. Today, patients can easily obtain information from various sources – such as social media, friends, and relatives. However, as these sources are not verified, patients end up feeling confused and end up not adhering to their treatment plan.
Patients are also generally unaware of the severe complications that could arise with the noncompliance of their treatment. Earlier this year, a cross-sectional descriptive study assessing adherence to treatment plans was conducted at Hanoi Medical University Hospital examining 252 hypertensive patients. Hypertension is a leading risk factor associated with the burden of morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular diseases. Although 72.6% of these patients purchased the medication with their own funds (with the remaining on insurance plans/ others), only 55.95% of patients adhered to their treatment plan. Patients have also shared that oftentimes, they end up forgetting to take their medication; however, only 3.6% make an effort to set a reminder for themselves.
At DKSH, we are dedicated to addressing the challenges in the traditional healthcare value chain, which is usually focused on physicians or products. PSPhere puts patients at the center of their care journey, connects them to key stakeholders, and leverages technology to help them achieve better outcomes. A patient-centric approach, which considers a comprehensive view of the patient’s health, incorporates key elements such as patient education, psychological assistance, nutritional counselling, and lifestyle adjustments to a patient’s treatment plan.
PSPhere is highly flexible and can be localized to each market. We have been working with 60 clients to run more than 200 patient support programs across Asia Pacific. In Vietnam, we provide this technology to local partners to deploy patient support programs for our clients, helping them to better connect and engage with the patients. Together, we keep the patients engaged through education materials and support, and we expect that, over time, this approach will result in better adherence rates as well as better treatment outcomes.