It’s Time for a Pulmonary Hypertension Digital Revolution

November 21, 2017

This PH Awareness Month, let’s look at where we’ve been, where we are headed, and what we can do to better support patients and treat this disease.

As a digital health company focused on getting patients their medications faster, we understand the importance of PH Awareness Month and the attention it brings to providers, patients, and their loved ones. It’s a time to shed light on the successes and challenges associated with PAH, while providing a larger venue to open discussions on what’s needed to effect change.

PAH is a type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in your lungs and the right side of your heart (Mayo Clinic). This chronic, life-changing disease leaves patients struggling to breathe, and leads to heart failure if left untreated (PHA Association).

The process to get to a PAH diagnosis varies from case-to-case and is strenuous and time-consuming. Patients with PAH typically show nonspecific symptoms, so it’s common not to be properly diagnosed for two-to-three years. Within that timeframe, the patient can be following different treatment approaches and trialing multiple therapies, spending countless hours at clinics, and undergoing various diagnostic tests before they are prescribed therapy to ease their symptoms. During this time, the patient’s condition often worsens and the ability to successfully treat the disease declines.

Unfortunately, the headache doesn’t end there. From the moment a patient is diagnosed and prescribed an appropriate therapy, it can take two-to-three weeks to get them the treatment. Some steps need to be taken, multiple forms need signatures, and approval processes that, for several reasons, take longer than they should. Here’s a quick sample:

  1. Once diagnosed and prescribed therapy, the patient often needs to sign off on the medication to solidify their understanding of its side effects. If this does not occur while the patient is at the clinic, more time spans while paperwork is mailed to the patient or the patient returns to the clinic for signature collection.
  2. This process then moves over to the insurers who must grant prior authorization to cover the specific therapy. The downside? These medications can cost $100K or more, causing most insurance companies to scrutinize the prescription to ensure it is appropriate and within their coverage – particularly if there are other treatment options available.
  3. Upon approval, these specialty medications often get shipped to the patient’s home (instead of picking them up at their local pharmacy). The specialty pharmacies who fill and ship these medications sometimes need to schedule nurses to train the patient on how to administer the medication and/or use a pump, what temperature to store the medications, etc.

There is certainly no shortage of challenges providers and patients encounter to get the medications they need. The good news is that biopharma and technology have come a long way, even in the last 20 years. In the 1980s, there were no therapies to treat PAH. Today, there are 15 approved therapies, providing patients and physicians with even more options.

ZappRx digitizes the complex and traditionally manual prescribing process to get these groundbreaking medications to patients as quickly as possible. With ZappRx, patients can get their approved therapy in 48 hours, significantly improving their daily lives shortly after diagnosis. The patient receives the therapy they need – when they need it – and the emotional and administrative burden on the provider, patient, and pharmacy is significantly reduced.

With early success in PH and Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH), the ZappRx platform is currently live in two additional disease areas, Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and Cystic Fibrosis (CF). ZappRx also plans to expand its technology to support additional specialties, including neurology, oncology, rheumatology, and gastroenterology.

While we have made considerable progress in treatments and technology, as an industry, we are barely scratching the surface. PH and the complex process associated with it is just one example of the many challenges facing specialty healthcare today. ZappRx understands there is still work to be done and is constantly making improvements and identifying innovative ways to better help these patients.

For more information about PAH including about the disease, treatments and patient-support efforts, please visit https://phassociation.org/