Why we’re in a world of hurt
As everyone knows Diabetic Investor believes strongly that one of the biggest problems facing diabetes companies is poor patient education. Study after study has shown that educated patients monitor their glucose levels more frequently as well taking their medications regularly. Most importantly these same studies have shown educated patients achieve better outcomes.
Diabetic Investor has always contended that companies would be wise to spend additional resources on education as they would be paid back in spades. Think of what it would mean to any blood glucose monitoring company if they could increase average testing frequency by just one test strip per day over their installed user base. Or what it would mean to any drug company or pharmacy retailer with patients refilling their prescriptions regularly because they are not skipping doses. Yet in spite of overwhelming evidence that patient education not only produces better outcomes but greater sales, companies continue to give patient education lip service. They talk a good game but when it comes to putting their money where their mouths are, all this talk becomes deadly silent.
It should also be noted that besides educating patients, it is just as important to educate primary care physicians who treat nearly 80% of the patients with diabetes. It’s a sad day when you combine an uneducated patient with an equally uneducated primary care physician. It’s even a sadder day when the patient knows more about diabetes than the physician that is supposed to be helping them manage their diabetes.
We bring up this last point based on one of the many emails received at Diabetic Investor’s other venture Healthy Outcomes. For those new to Diabetic Investor or those who have forgotten David Kliff, the publisher of Diabetic Investor is also President and Co-Founder of Healthy Outcomes, a web site that incentivizes patients with diabetes to become better educated about their diabetes. (www.healthyoutcomes.com) The site has been live for about a year now and we’re proud to say Healthy Outcomes is helping thousands of patients take control of their health and wellness.
A hidden gem inside Healthy Outcomes is all the great data we gather and the many comments and emails we receive from our growing patient base. Without violating the privacy of one of our registered users here is an email we received just yesterday:
“I think it us very important to get the treatment information out to the general practitioners. I can’t tell you how many times I have been told that I test too often (3 times a day). This is from several different dr’s. My diabetes is well controlled because I do test.
It’s a hassle every month to go in and argue with the people who are supposed to be helping me. I know they are not all like that, but I have had 4 that have told me that. They are more interested in putting me on preventative drugs (blood pressure drugs that protect the kidneys & cholesterol drugs to make sure it stays down. I don’t have a problem with either, but it’s always the same lecture….for protection. This just tells me that they are getting their diabetes education from the drug reps…you would be doing us all a great service if you can get the correct information out to them.” (Highlighting added by Diabetic Investor)
Here you have an educated patient practicing solid diabetes management and this person has to argue with the people who are supposed to helping this person manage their diabetes. But this is not the only email Healthy Outcomes has received on this subject but indicative of the thoughts of many real world patients. If this wasn’t so sad it would almost be funny. However, it’s not funny and shows the world of hurt diabetes companies are in for putting profits ahead of education. The simple fact is patient education and increased sales can walk hand in hand.
Rather than acknowledging that education can be used to drive additional sales, diabetes companies continue to pursue worn out strategies that flat out don’t work in today’s diabetes environment. What’s really funny here is that some companies continue to believe new lancing devices or cool glucose monitors will somehow increase sales. Or that drug companies believe that primary care physicians actually understand how to treat a patient with diabetes. The reality is education is about the only proven method for producing both better outcomes and increased sales.
Given that glucose monitoring companies are facing increasing price pressure and slowing growth rates, one just might think they would shift some resources from developing monitors with even more fancy features that only a handful of patients use, into patient education. Or that drug companies would help primary care physicians understand how to better treat their patients with diabetes. Perhaps pharmacy retailers would realize that rewarding patients for buying more diabetes related products is worthless when these same patients would buy even more items, visit the store more frequently and be more loyal if they understood how to better manage their diabetes. Imagine how the paradigm would change if the customer with diabetes actually viewed the pharmacy as a place that was helping them manage their diabetes better and not just trying to sell them something.
Perhaps this is the reason why 68% of registered users surveyed by Healthy Outcomes indicate that they view their pharmacy just as a place to pick a prescription. What that number really means is that it makes no difference to them whether this retailer is Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid or Safeway. It makes no difference to the patient picking up their insulin or metformin; it’s not like the insulin or metformin at Walgreens is different than the same drugs picked up at CVS. While there is no way of knowing for sure Diabetic Investor believes that 68% number would change dramatically if these same patients felt the pharmacy was helping them manage their diabetes better.
Diabetic Investor isn’t quite sure when companies began believing the myth that patient education does not produce greater sales, but that exactly what is – a myth. What can say is whoever stops believing the fantasy and begins living in the real world will reap huge rewards and perform a great public service. One just might think in this highly competitive environment, where every sale counts that a company would break from the worn out, quickly copied strategies of the past and do something truly innovative that actually works. It would be a great day for diabetes as this is one strategy we hope everyone would copy.