GLP-1 Medications and 4 Patient Engagement Best Practices

Bob Abrahamson, Vice President Marketing – pCare

Psychadelic rendeing of choices in chronic condition self-management

The New Miracle Drugs

The new blockbusters are the GLP-1 medications developed for Type 2 Diabetes (Ozempic and Mounjaro) and reformulated for weight loss (Wegovy and Zepbound) that also show promise for treating heart disease and kidney disease. And as reported by Pharma Voice, a KFF study revealed that approximately 70% of US adults had some awareness of these medication with 45% of US Adults expressing interest in using a safe medication for weight loss. Those are huge numbers. Insurance coverage and costs still stand as the major barrier for folks looking for these weight loss management solutions.

At first glance, these medications can seem like a non-surgical quick fix for pervasive chronic conditions. For many, successfully managing  these conditions which can be driven by lifestyle factors (exercise, diet, smoking, etc.) has proven to be extremely challenging. It’s a marathon not a sprint. And in a world where instant gratification is the expectation coupled with rapidly shrinking attention spans, the zeitgeist can be stacked against those trying to lose weight, quit smoking, manage their diabetes, or get into better shape.

Yet, it is an oversimplification to look upon using these medications as taking the easy way out.  It’s not as simple as popping a pill. There are injections schedules, often steep financial impacts, and the need to exercise and build muscle mass to prepare the body for what can be substantial weight loss. In many cases, these medications have acted as a catalyst toward helping people make seemingly lasting lifestyle changes including exercising and eating a healthier diet once the weight loss has occurred.

However, GLP-1s are not a panacea for weight loss or diabetes management. Carrying a high price tag that is not covered by many insurance plans today, economic factors put these products out of reach for many people. Additionally, there are a great number of people who are averse to taking medications for a variety of reasons. And, while the potential benefits of these medications seem to be expanding, it is still the early days. The fact remains that making lifestyle changes to manage chronic conditions is in no way obsolete. And it hasn’t gotten any easier. So, what does this mean for driving engagement in health self-management activities.

Patient Engagement Best Practices

Clearly, one size does not fit all. Yet our challenge is to work with this wide array of people to help them lead a healthier life. How can we do that?

 1. Don’t Pass Judgement. I’ve learned it is best not to presume intent. Ask and understand where a person is coming from and take on face value what they are sharing. The only way to build trust is to trust. To be truly patient centric you must be sure to check your biases at the door.

 2. Be Collaboratively Prescriptive. It’s a wide world and people need help in defining the best path forward for themselves. Offer the approach and tools that will drive self-management after you have worked together to identify goals, motivators, abilities, etc.

 3. Flex Technology. It is silly to ignore the tools surrounding us. However, it is equally important to be aware of information overload. Take out your phone and I’ll bet there are at least 10 apps you have not opened in the last six months, don’t remember your password, and may not even know when and why it was downloaded. We are busy and challenged with shorter and shorter attention spans. That’s why it is critical to present the right technology that can fit into the context of a person’s life. Is it wearable trackers, Digital Health Platform? Virtual coaching app? Telehealth Services? Focus on the one or maybe two best-fit solutions that will be sticky and adopted.

4. Be Creative as managing setbacks is becoming harder. Change is hard. Behavior change can often seem impossible while trying to manage a busy life. If there is a growing perception that a simple solution may be available, then the frustration in confronting barriers to staying on program will increase. For patient engagement solution providers, we need to provide outlets for people to express frustration while offering meaningful, timely, and contextual encouragement. This may present a great use case for generative AI using customized large language models to help maintain engagement as these models have shown the ability to be empathetic.

The GLP-1 medications offer great promise. They offer a new pathway to weight management for folks that have long struggled with this issue. And indications for other conditions seem to be on the way which is more great news. Yet, the human challenges of behavior change do not go away. They may even become more complicated. That is why it is imperative that patient engagement solution providers do not lose sight of the inherent human limitations AND potential and drive technology to work hard to address personalized solutions for today’s landscape.

 

pCare Logo
844 300 9112

1979 Marcus Avenue, Suite 226
Lake Success, NY 11042