Round 2: Knowledge Clinic
Another novel approach is leveraging the industry's educational mission for professionals to relate directly to the patient
experience. With that goal in mind, Daria Blackwell—entrepreneur, 2011 Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) Star,
and 2004 HBA president, recently founded Knowledge Clinic in Ireland.
Blackwell has been involved with medical marketing and medical communications for most of her career. But it was while working
for Roche that Blackwell got the idea of creating some sort of continuing medical education (CME) for patients. "I started
developing resources for physicians to help them understand how patients think, because patients coming from different backgrounds
all think very differently about Western medicine and what physicians tell them," she explains. "So eventually we arrived
at the thought that there really needs to be a separate discipline that helps patients accept the fact that they are responsible
for their own health and that they have to partner with their healthcare professionals."
From there, Knowledge Clinic was born. Currently, Blackwell is in the middle of organizing what she calls a "pilot trial"
of medical education via webinars and other learn-from-home options, "where people are recruited—as soon as they are diagnosed
with a chronic disease—into an educational program where they will learn at their own pace and pass a couple of simple tests
that will acknowledge what they've learned."
A big part of non-adherence is lack of patient education, says Blackwell. For example, she says, most people who are diagnosed
with hypertension are asymptomatic. "And the doctor just tells them, 'Here, take this pill.' Most of the time the patient
doesn't realize they're going to be on this for life. Most of the time they don't realize that if they discontinue it, there
could be very serious problems. They don't realize that hypertension leads to problems down the line that could include stroke
and heart disease."
Not only do patients not realize the consequences of non-adherence; they also don't place enough value on their medications.
"AARP did a survey a few years ago that revealed more people were willing to spend money on cable television than on life-saving
drugs," reiterates Blackwell.
The idea behind Knowledge Clinic, according to Blackwell, is that patients will learn how to manage their own health—including
the value of medication adherence—in a way that is easy to understand, personalized, and is cognizant of cultural and religious
differences. Additionally, rewards for completing educational workshops at Knowledge Clinic will help keep patients motivated.
"Once they've passed a test, patients will get a certificate, which is redeemable for different rewards and products from
different partners that will be participating with us who have a stake in the management of that particular health condition,"
Blackwell says. For example, patients with heart disease might redeem points for free classes at health centers or for workshops
to reduce stress levels; asthmatics might redeem their points for products such as air purifiers and allergen-reducing mattress
Adherence, says Blackwell, is not a responsibility that can rest solely on the shoulders of patients, or on the pharma manufacturers.
"It's going to take everybody," she says. "People have been working on compliance and adherence for a long time, and nobody's
quite figured all of it out. It makes sense that the more different factions cooperate towards improving adherence, the more
successful we will be."