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step towardsToday, we live in an era of customization. Increasingly, customers can modify a product’s appearance, features, or content according to their unique needs or desires. Often, even the news we see in our newsfeeds is customized based off our preferences.

Why, then, are so many aspects of the health care industry still one-size-fits-all?

As doctors, we’ve seen firsthand how this can negatively impact patients who require more individualized care. One particular example is a practice known as “step therapy” or “fail first.”

Now, when patients visit their doctors for a prescription, the treatments they are prescribed are typically based on a variety of personal factors. These factors include their health history, underlying symptoms, and their doctor’s long-term understanding of their condition, such as whether they have already tried certain drugs under a different health insurance plan, if they have other medical conditions that might interfere with the drug’s effect, whether certain drug’s side effects will affect the patient’s ability to perform their job, or if the patient would prefer a drug that has a different ingestion method or dosage form. Treatment plans need to be based on the individual’s needs, and their doctors’ medical expertise and first-hand knowledge of their patients’ overall health.

 However, far too often, what happens next is the problem. When a patient goes to the pharmacy to fill their prescription, they may be informed that their physician-prescribed medicine will not be covered unless the patient first proves that another medication-one of the insurer’s choosing, not their doctor-will not work for them.

In such a case as this, failure is not only an option, it is the only option before getting appropriate treatment.

Under the current system, patients are left with a limited set of options: either try a medication that is not what their doctor recommended for their condition, or pay out of pocket for the treatment they need. For many people, that’s not a choice at all. They are simply forced to fail on a medication other than what their doctor prescribed.

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