Monday, April 18, 2011

Industry-Physician Education: Walking in Patients' Shoes

Some industry critics have railed that any contact between physician and drug makers is akin to a mortal sin; the very thought sullies the purity of medical practice. We think extremism, in any form, shows poor judgment and lack of logical thought. Transparency is excellent, but contact between industry and physician is still necessary for medical advancement.

So we loved the piece we read in Pharmaceutical and Medical Packaging News about the pharmaceutical consulting firm that set up booths at a rheumatology conference which allowed physicians to experience what their RA patients deal with every day. The point: education for all stakeholders, and that includes the use of biologics. A Web-designed program also stresses the need for exercise and the importance of medication adherence.

The booths were equipped with a working faucet and sink; a laundry detergent container; and working taxi cab door. A pharma sales rep guided each physician through the booth, who was asked to turn on the faucet, and so on. The physician, who was measured on how difficult it was to perform the tasks, generally had no problem doing so.

Then the HCP put on specially made gloves (made by folks at George Tech University) that simulated the challenges the RA patient goes through; the physicians' decline in functionality was significant.

The doctors who went through the booth loved it; 92% said they would go through it again – 98% said the demonstration helped them understand what their patients dealt with every day.

Just think: Maybe the consulting firm that developed this tool, OneWorld, can design similar booths for neurologists, so they can appreciate what migraineurs live with, and for pulmonologists, so they can understand what it’s like to live with emphysema.

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