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        Business Analytics and Information Systems, Faculty, Industry, Research

        Big data research reveals 60 percent of injectable medication users fail to follow instructions

        July 15, 2016 By Joe McAdory

        All News


        A recent report by Shashank Rao, Jim W. Thompson Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management at the Harbert College of Business, revealed that more than 60 percent of injectable medication users fail to follow all of the steps outlined in the Instructions for Use (IFU) document-instructed steps before using them initially.

        When medication is not administered correctly, its purpose is not always achieved.

        “There is the impression that the drug doesn’t work as well as it should,” said Rao, who partnered with Noble, the leader in drug delivery device training, for the report. “The value perception of the drug decreases in the market and it’s a chain reaction that begins with people not following the directions or not doing it correctly. The industry is losing millions.”

        injectablesAn online survey and user studies, conducted by Noble, collected information from 721 participants. Patients were asked a variety of questions related to medical compliance including if all steps in the IFU were followed and if they utilized practice devices before beginning the injectable regimen. Results were then forwarded to Rao for analysis.

        “It’s really a challenge when you are dealing with injectable medication because people do not want to inject themselves, Rao added. “If you look at basic insulin injections, there are 14 steps that you are supposed to follow. In one of the studies – we allowed people to inject without instruction or training, and we just observed how they went about the process of injecting themselves and almost everybody got one of those 14 steps wrong.

        “It’s like any machine – if you don’t follow the instructions for using a machine, it’s going to break down faster. Unfortunately, with human beings, you can’t just turn a lever or turn a screw and fix whatever broke down. Drug efficacy doesn’t translate into the real world because people are not using the devices or medications properly.”

        A possible solution includes improved custom training and education systems for patients using injectable devices. For example, Noble training devices accurately mimic the actual injectable drug device by replicating the look, feel and function. However, the training devices do not contain the actual drug or needle. This allows patients to practice the correct administration steps as many times as they need in order to become comfortable with self-administration and alleviate issues such as needle anxiety.

        Rao’s work was highlighted by in the article A learning curve in medication adherence.”

        “If instructions with pictures are worth a thousand words, how many is a copy of the actual drug delivery system worth, especially when it is enabled to show right and wrong in terms of operation? With that in mind, manufacturers of injectable drugs can greatly benefit from offering this level of patient education,” the article reads.

        The business and the health industries don’t always share common ground. But in this case, analyzing big data does. “We don’t have health care in our name (business analytics), but this is a tool that you can use anywhere,” Rao said. “Clinicians have their training – ailment detection. But they are not necessarily trained in analyzing the results of the market research. That’s where somebody with this kind of training comes in.”