A new online tool has been launched in the US to help patients - especially those with complex health conditions - to understand their disease better and how their medication works.

The tool, entitled Virtual Coaching, has been developed by pharmacy benefits management (PBM) company Express Scripts and is being made available through HealthBridge Pharma & Biotech, which is part of United BioSource Corp (UBC). Virtual Coaching provides visual and audible information to help patients better understand their health condition and how a prescribed drug works within their body.

"Innovative, detailed patient education is especially important for patients who are prescribed specialty medications, which often include a therapy that is more complex and demanding than non-specialty therapies," says Everett Neville, Express Scripts vice president, chief trade relations officer.

"Patients with diseases such as hepatitis C, autoimmune disorders, haemophilia and multiple sclerosis can benefit from knowing as much as possible about their illness, their medication and any potential side effects. Yet accessing and remembering trusted information can be a challenge," he adds.

According to the US National Council on Patient Information and Education, more than 60% of patients cannot correctly report what their physician told them about medication use 10 minutes after receiving their information. However, patients can access Virtual Coaching videos online or via DVD any time, day or night, to obtain vital information from the convenience of their own homes.

Virtual Coaching may include downloading forms, tracking charts and links to support communities, and is available to pharmaceutical manufacturers which can tailor a video to suit the needs of their patients.