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July 21, 2021 0

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Pharmaceutical companies pour billions of dollars each year into patient support programs, aiming to provide patients with drug information, financial assistance and other resources.

But those resources aren’t actually reaching patients, new data say. Phreesia, which surveyed nearly 5,000 patients checking in for doctors’ appointments this past February and March, found that just 3% were using patient support programs (PSPs).

That’s a pretty low figure, considering pharma’s annual investment tops $5.7 billion. And it wasn’t much higher when accounting for patients’ lifetime use of support programs, either: Only 8% had ever used a PSP before, Phreesia found.

Why the low usage? The problem isn’t so much that patients aren’t interested in what PSPs have to offer. Sixty-three percent of surveyed patients said support programs would be at least a little bit helpful for them, with 14% answering that they’d find PSPs very or extremely helpful.

Instead, the issue seems to be a lack of awareness. Fifty-nine percent of patients said they had little to no knowledge of PSPs—a gap companies are going to have to close if they want to successfully drive patients to their resources.

So what can drugmakers do to get the word out? Step one is creating marketing campaigns to increase awareness among qualified, targeted patients and to educate them on specific program offerings. An omnichannel approach that can reach target patients on the online platforms they’re already using should also be part of the plan.

Case in point: A life sciences company partnered with Phreesia to boost awareness around its savings program, and initially, 90% of patients were not using the company’s copay card. But after receiving information about the offer during check-in for doctors’ appointments, 53% said they were very likely to use a card if they had one.

Another option? Bringing pharmacies on board to help educate patients, whether that’s verbally or through brochures and other distributed materials. Only 14% of patients said they had learned about support programs from pharmacies, versus 32% who said they’d like to learn about support programs from pharmacies.

By far, though, the biggest disconnect Phreesia found was that just 10% of patients had learned about PSPs online—and 44% wanted to. For drugmakers, that chasm may be a signal that it’s time to revisit where and how support information is housed online and make it more prominent and easier to locate for patients surfing branded sites.

Of course, at the end of the day, healthcare providers will still be a major part of the equation. They’re currently the primary way patients are learning about PSPs, with 53% of patients getting their support info from doctors, and the way most patients (55%) would like to hear about support programs, too.

But as this new research shows, if companies really want to ensure an optimal medication experience for patients—not to mention, maximize their hefty investments—it’s going to take some additional strategizing to make sure patient support program information gets to patients in a clear, digestible way.

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David Linetsky

July 28, 2020 0

The patient experience at the point of care is rapidly changing. Today, medical groups continue to implement more consumer-centric workflows and digital engagement platforms to manage operational, clinical and financial processes. While the COVID-19 outbreak accelerated the adoption of these tools among providers, it was not the initial catalyst. Prior to the pandemic, many healthcare providers had already begun to adopt digital engagement tools to manage operational, clinical and financial processes. Phreesia’s patient intake platform was designed to support these trends, which has allowed us to quickly adapt to the current industry environment and to deliver valuable applications to our provider network and the broader market. We recognized the urgent need for intake products that could support telehealth visits, screen for COVID-19 risks and minimize contact during in-person visits and shifted our efforts to helping medical groups stay safe, stay open and continue to see patients. As we navigate a new normal in a post-COVID-19 world, we believe digital engagement tools will become even more critical to ensuring that the POC stays relevant to Life Sciences manufacturers and healthcare marketers.    

The evolution of the patient experience during COVID-19 has brought POC marketing to a tipping point. Today, amid tremendous disruption to the U.S. economy and healthcare industry, marketers are questioning whether the POC is still an effective environment to engage with patients. The answer is yes, but to be effective, healthcare marketers must adopt new standards for success that consider the realities of a post-COVID-19 environment and how patients and staff are adjusting to a different kind of intake experience.

Below are five important changes that we believe the POC marketing industry must address:

  1. The POC is no longer tied to physical locations—it’s wherever patients choose to engage with their providers and seek care
  2. In-person visit volumes are fluctuating and have created tremendous uncertainty for advertising exposure and impression volume, making one-to-one engagement tactics more valuable
  3. Increased provider sensitivity to shared surfaces will decrease the effectiveness of many traditional marketing tactics  
  4. Patients are more receptive to personalized content that’s tailored to their individual health needs
  5. Disruptions in patients’ access to care has created a greater need for support programs

The POC was moving beyond the walls of the physician’s office well before 2020, but COVID-19 has led to specific workflow changes that are likely to become the norm and as a result, will impact the future of POC marketing. Medical offices have implemented contactless, or “zero-contact” workflows to help minimize exposure and reduce contact between patients and staff. Many of our clients have eliminated the waiting room by asking patients to wait in their cars when they arrive for their appointment and to check in using their mobile devices. They’re also removing shared surface spaces and assigning the majority of their non-provider staff to remote work. Telehealth has also brought significant change to POC marketing. Prior to COVID-19, the telehealth market was dominated by specialty services offered through employee benefits plans. But as healthcare organizations look for ways to provide care and limit contact between patients and staff, a growing number of them are offering virtual visits.  The result of these operational changes, both contactless workflows and telehealth, is a more personalized intake experience that relies on patients using their mobile devices to engage with providers outside of the traditional office setting.

Even as medical groups rebuild their appointment schedules and patients begin to return to their providers’ offices, it’s clear that the overall the nature of in-person visits, including opportunities to engage with patients during those sessions, has changed. As more providers adopt telehealth and zero-contact workflows, we’ll need to find new ways to measure impression volumes that were traditionally based on the in-person visit. We can no longer rely on patients’ idly reviewing screens, thumbing through magazines or picking up brochures and pamphlets in the waiting room. We’ll need to deliver targeted, one-to-one engagements to patients’ mobile device, while also ensuring that the content is restricted for their personal use only.

In addition to facing a new intake experience, patents today are inundated with new information about their health. As COVID-19 guidance and recommendations continue to evolve and patients navigate through a constant stream information, medical marketing must be personalized to patients’ specific health interests and concerns. Those solutions that are tied to office operations, rather than a specific office location, will stand out. Healthcare marketers can leverage self-service digital platforms, such as patient intake software, to engage with patients about their health. At the same time, the one-on-one nature of these personalized engagements have a far greater chance of catching patients’ attention. The point-of-care offers us an opportunity to reach patients at a critical point along their healthcare journey—the moment when they are most attentive to their health concerns and just before they speak with their provider about those needs.

COVID-19 also caused a tremendous disruption to patients’ access to care. The initial outbreak forced many medical offices to close or to reduce operations, delaying care for hundreds of thousands of patients. Sadly, it also exacerbated social determinants for many patients, including employment, health insurance and education. Today’s patients need more than just information about new therapies, they need to learn about diseases and to understand the importance of resuming treatment protocols that may have been interrupted, such as vaccine schedules, infusions, preventive health screenings and diagnostic testing. We also need to ensure they’re aware of the numerous patient support programs available from life sciences manufacturers. These programs can be invaluable in helping patients gain access to and stay on therapy, yet fewer than one in five patients are aware they exist. Increasing visibility of these programs is critical for improving patient adherence, as well as to ensure that qualifying patients can access the right therapies to achieve their health goals.

As we enter a new media planning season, healthcare marketers and life sciences manufacturers need more detail and strategic insight into how the POC can become an integral part of their digital and mobile strategy. Patient utilization data demonstrates the value of mobile and how it enables provider to deliver safe care via zero-contact workflows and telehealth services. We must also personalize content and create directed, one-to-one engagements to cut through the noise and influx of health information aimed at patients to address their specific needs and priorities. Finally, we should incorporate disease education and patient support programs into digital engagement campaigns when they can improve health outcomes for target patient populations. As the patient experience becomes increasingly mediated by the converging forces of digital adaptation, patient centricity and pandemic response, we must find a way to align our digital engagement strategies at the point of care to every patient’s needs.  

Click here to learn more about Phreesia’s digital engagement solutions.

David Linetsky