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The Shorter the Better! - Educating Physicians to Improve the Patients’ Diagnostic Journey

The Shorter the Better! - Educating Physicians to Improve the Patients’ Diagnostic Journey

Josh Pirtle

July 16, 2021

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The best diagnostic journey for a patient is the shortest. The less time is lost between a patient seeing a healthcare provider for the first time for their symptoms and the time they receive the correct diagnosis the sooner treatment can start.

Long diagnostic journeys are particularly common in rare diseases, where the average time to diagnosis is 5 years and the typical patient sees more than seven healthcare professionals before a final diagnosis can be made (link rare disease blog). However, not all underdiagnosed diseases are rare, more common diseases can be underdiagnosed especially when they present with initial symptoms that are common and can have many different causes, e.g. back pain. 

In any case, faster diagnosis benefits the patients, improves their journey, quality of life and survival [1].

The Challenge: Shortening Time to Diagnosis

One of H1 pharmaceutical clients was looking for ways to shorten the time between a patient’s initial visit with a primary care physician (PCP) and the correct diagnosis of an underdiagnosed disease by a specialist. The challenge was to identify PCPs who have treated and eventually referred these patients to specialists and provide them with targeted educational information that will allow them to identify the disease more quickly next time they encounter a patient suffering from it. 

The Solution: Leverage Claims and Referral Data

To develop a list of PCPs who had treated relevant patients, the H1 team leveraged claims and referral data. In a first step they identified PCPs who had treated patients that sought help with a relatively common and non-specific symptom. Then they looked at claims data to find out which specialist correctly diagnosed the disease and - working back using referral data - determined who the referring PCP was. 

The company then developed a strategy around reaching out to these primary care physicians to share targeted educational materials about the disease that is designed to aid faster diagnosis and referral next time they encounter a patient.  with that disease.

The Outcome: Targeted Education and Engagement

Rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach to education exclusively based on the fact that the PCPs treat specific patients, the team used additional data captured in the H1 database to personalize the information. 

In preparation for a meeting with a PCP, the customer’s medical affairs team now takes information such as a PCP’s publication records and clinical trial work into consideration - contextual information helps them to develop materials that engage the PCPs while providing the critical information needed to diagnose and refer future patients quickly. 

Instead of spreading educational information far and wide in the hopes the relevant healthcare providers notice and pay attention, this data-driven approach first identified relevant physicians leveraging claims and referral data. Contextual information then allowed medical affairs teams to develop materials that engage each physician in a personalized manner.

This is just one example of how we leverage the H1 database every day to help our clients. If you have a question or are looking for an efficient way to address a challenge, please get in touch. Our team loves a good challenge and is happy to dig in [add link]


References

[1] www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-symptoms/why-is-early-diagnosis-important


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