Healthcare providers (HCPs) consider multiple factors when choosing to start or change drug therapy for a patient, but one of the most influential is laboratory test results.

HCPs use lab tests to:

  • Confirm or rule out a suspected diagnosis
  • Monitor disease control or progression
  • Identify the presence or absence of certain biomarkers to guide drug selection
  • Ensure therapies are being well-tolerated

A good example of the influence of lab testing: Patients with type 2 diabetes. HCPs regularly test their type 2 diabetes patients’ blood sugar using a hemoglobin A1c test (HbA1c test). A result of 7 or below indicates that the patient’s condition is being managed well. Higher scores would indicate that their diabetes is uncontrolled or borderline uncontrolled.

Leveraging our lab registry and a leading health information technology company’s longitudinal prescription data, we quantified how HbA1c results influenced HCPs’ therapy decisions. As most brands on the market today are used second line, third line, or later, we looked only at patients currently or historically treated with metformin and/or a sulfonylurea. We found that HbA1c results, like many lab tests, are highly influential. Patients with HbA1c results indicating that their diabetes was uncontrolled were 20 times more likely to have their therapy changed.

Leverage Relevant Insights Accordingly

So, how does a brand team leverage this insight? Because of the large population of patients and HCPs, many diabetes brands today have large field forces that call on relevant HCPs frequently, with some high-volume prescription writers seeing a brand rep each week. Most brands will be hesitant to ramp down this frequency and lower their “share of voice” among the HCPs who write the most prescriptions in the market. But, we’d recommend that, at the very least, they time their less frequent calls and visits to the mid- and low-decile physicians to when they have a patient whose diabetes is uncontrolled. The intervention will be most relevant, and likely most impactful, when the HCP will be making a decision on a treatment change.

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