UW Health: Virtually teaches patients how to inject themselves at home

MADISON, Wis. ‒ At first, the idea of ​​giving herself a chance at home was daunting for Cheryl Bowman, but a new program at UW Health has given her the ability and confidence to do so.

Bowman, who lives in Waunakee with her husband and 11-year-old daughter, has suffered for years from psoriasis, a condition that causes her skin to grow at seven times the normal rate.

“It’s a very visible condition, and it has a bit of an effect on self-confidence,” she said.

The most common symptom of psoriasis is a rash, but sometimes rashes can impact joints or tendons.

Her doctors over the years tried several therapies, but nothing seemed to work. However, recently a new type of medicine has come on the market which her doctor said could treat her skin problem, except this medicine had a catch – it has to be given by injection.

That means patients often have to drive to a clinic to receive their first injections and learn how to use the injection from a nurse, according to Shelby Gomez, clinical pharmacist, UW Health. This in-person appointment can often be delayed by a patient’s long commutes or busy schedule, which can delay the start of a new medication.

In 2020, keeping patients out of the clinic for elective procedures was a high priority due to the pandemic, and learning how to virtually self-administer medication at home was an easy way to do that. But that was not yet commonly done with injectable drugs at UW Health, Gomez said.

At that time, Eric Friestrom, pharmacy program manager, UW Health, was working on his Master of Pharmacy project developing a process to virtually teach patients how to self-administer injectable medications at home. It was then tested at UW Health in dermatology.

Once the medication is prescribed, the pharmacy team sends the first dose of medication to the patient and sets up a virtual tour to demonstrate how to perform the injection, allowing the patient to practice with a supervising pharmacist via video .

Bowman, who learned the procedure from Gomez, felt like she was his partner in the process, Bowman said.

“She just made me feel so comfortable,” she said. “Once we were done with that first visit, I felt like it was no big deal.”

Since the program officially launched in 2021, UW Health has helped more than 100 patients, from children to older adults, with this process, according to Gomez.

Nurses have told her the program has reduced their workload and reduced the number of calls to the clinic, although some patients still prefer an in-person experience, she said.

Adhering to the new psoriasis drug made a difference for Bowman because it worked so well that her family and friends now say they can’t tell she has the disease, she said. declared.

“My quality of life is better both emotionally and physically,” Bowman said. “I never thought I could inject myself with this drug, but it’s so much easier than I thought.”

Gomez is available for interviews today, and taped interviews with Gomez and Bowman are available.