Digital Tools Improve Prescriber-Patient Experiences

Brief highlights on prescription medication rating tool, reimbursement for use of wearable health tracking devices and an assessment of the health technology field.

Drug Rating System Based on Direct Patient Experience

One year after launching the first peer-to-peer five-star rating system for prescription medications,  SERMO, an interactive medical sharing venture, announced that its “Yelp for drugs” platform has reached 665,000 physician views of more than 4,000 medications,1 according to Peter Kirk, the company’s chief executive officer.

The rating tool was designed to “democratize medical knowledge” by gathering clinical input on patient experiences of efficacy, side effects, adherence, and acceptability of prescribed drugs. SERMO is the only global database of physician feedback on medications.

In this private, anonymous drug rating database, more than half the medicines have had at least 100 reviews—and 18 of them have more than 1,000.2

Among survey respondents (n= 2019), 83% felt feedback based on the ratings would improve patient outcomes and 74% indicated that they would use the ratings again when doing research for treatments. Findings from the survey suggested that slightly more than half of doctors changed their perceptions or opinions about selecting a drug after reviewing the ratings.2

One of the most striking findings was how much time and effort physicians have been willing to put in to the database to share their opinions, according to Mr. Kirk.

The next step, according to the company, is to have drug ratings integrated into electronic medical records system so physicians can have point-of-care access to medication ratings while talking with the patient.


Wearable Technology Promising But Clinical Utility Remains Elusive

Wearable technology from fitness trackers to glucose sensors and insulin monitors may foster patient engagement, cut down on the need for office visits, and introduce data in real time, according to a panel of speakers presenting on the topic at the American College of Physicians Internal Medicine Meeting 2018 in New Orleans, Lousiana.3

Alisa L. Niksch, MD, director of pediatric electrophysiology and the Exercise Stress Lab at Tufts University Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts told the audience that she has been watching the growth of wearable technology since the beginning of her medical training.1 She cautioned that there isn't sufficient evidence to support the use of wearable technology in the healthcare setting.

In a recent review of research on wearable devices, only 64 out of 4,328 studies on wearable devices were randomized controlled trials, and of those, just 16 articles were deemed of sufficient quality to draw conclusions on the value of these devices in the healthcare setting.4

“It’s important to know that patients typically generalize the data so it’s difficult to get an accurate clinical picture based on their reports to truly inform care,” said Priya Radhakrishnan, MD, Chief Academic Officer at HonorHealth Medical Group in Phoenix, Arizona.

“Even more telling is that engaged patients are currently the ‘active aware,’ so they are likely to be a healthy cohort who is less in need of this data to elicit needed behavior changes to reduce their health risks,” Dr. Radhakrishnan said. The goal must be to find ways to

There are lots of innovations currently under development such as sensors to measure glucose in contact lenses for patients with diabetes, she told EndocrineWeb; the challenge for practitioners will be how to develop informed patients who utilize the many health advances such as meals delivered to the smart fridge, and linking digitally so patients will truly benefit.

What she does in her practice is to explain skills, such as carb counting which remains an essential for people with diabetes so they can gain insights into the food choices, or suggest apps, such as MyFitnessPal, she told EndocrineWeb, “then I review the value of making use of these tools as part of setting goals.”

And in recognition of the growing demand for clinicians’ time with health technology, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMM) plans to begin reimbursing physicians for time spent in evaluating data patients share from their devices, as part of improvements to the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System.

"This is an area where there is a lot of focus from health systems so that they can actually bill for care coordination," said Dr. Radhakrishnan, MD, "The caveat is that 20% of the cost is passed on to the patient under the CMM rules of reimbursement.”

“I think it's worth the investment of time and money when you see how we can engage patients," she said, but she warned clinicians that the key to using CMM codes is to make certain that the requirements are met to be sure that reimbursements are not denied. 

Lastly, she mentioned the challenges and opportunities to be presented given the Food and Drugs Administration Digital Device Pathway, and growing concerns about digital data safety with integrated systems—in particular, glucose monitors—and HIPPA requirement.

None of the physicians interviewed have any financial conflicts related to this topic.


Educational Opportunity

Talking to Patients about Obesity: Opening THAT Conversation

Talking to patients about obesity is one of the toughest things a medical provider has to do. It can be an awkward and difficult conversation for both parties — but it doesn’t have to be that way. Please join us on Thursday, May 31, when Angie Golden will suggest clinical tools to help you put patients at ease and properly approach the treatment discussion with them. To register: Click Here

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Use of Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring Devices by Adults With Type 1 Diabetes
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