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April 15, 2015

As the new model of healthcare delivery takes shape, the spending burden for care continues to shift to the patient, giving them more control over their care. As a result, patients are more informed and have access to more healthcare decision-making tools than ever before.

However, it needs to be relevant to them. Recent research commissioned by McKesson shows that patients are less interested in general information about their condition and more interested in personal communications and support in the form of missed prescription reminders (89%), refill reminders (87%), live phone support (86%), and pharmacist coaching (83%).

Evolution of relationship marketing

In the past, one size-fits-all-messaging followed by content delivered through traditional communication channels such as e-mail or print, enabled brands to deliver consistent and controlled messages to the patient. However, this model did not enable dynamic two-way communication, where questions can be asked of the patient, responses captured, and then messaging and actions tailored accordingly. As a result, the ability to create lasting behavioral changes was limited.

Driven, in part, by more engaged and empowered patients, new technologies now enable brands to perform more targeted outreach to patients with specific medical conditions, on particular medications, who have opted in to receive information. While this improves patient targeting and personalization of the message, this evolution of relationship marketing in healthcare is not just about pushing a brand message, but about creating greater patient engagement and opening the door for two-way conversations designed to improve adherence and outcomes. Ultimately, this support helps to differentiate the brand from its competition, driving adoption and adherence.

Delivering personalized support

There is no silver bullet for impacting adherence as every patient is diverse and every patient situation is different. Complexities that can impact a patient’s likelihood to remain adherent include the length of time since diagnosis, brand challenges and attributes, cost barriers often outside the patient’s control, and the nature of the diagnosis itself.

The ability to uncover what behavioral barriers can be modified and to recognize what factors cannot be changed (e.g., doctor’s choice to discontinue the medication), is one of the benefits of dynamic live patient interactions. While each patient’s individual situation may be unique, our experience in behavioral coaching reveals that there are similarities across therapeutic conditions which can be used to infer best practices in addressing patient challenges across brands and patient populations. For example, sensitive conditions (HIV, Hepatitis C) have social implications that require more empathetic messaging than more mainstream chronic conditions, such as Diabetes or Hypertension. Patients with a visible dermatological condition (psoriasis, onychomycosis) often face quality of life issues that physicians may not fully embrace and will need significantly different support.

Recognizing that adherence barriers change over time, as well as patients’ information and education needs, brands can integrate out-bound support and multi-channel communications to maintain that personalized support for patients throughout their brand journey. In this scenario, delivering smarter dynamic communications can help connect patients to support driving brand loyalty and program success.

Consider a program that helps patients navigate their own healthcare decisions, supporting adherence, sharing information, addressing barriers along the way and deploying proven behavioral-based techniques. One example is McKesson’s Behavioral Call Campaigns (BCCs), which use live agent support to identify adherence barriers and provide targeted messaging to help overcome those barriers, connecting with patients using proven health behavior change tools and techniques to build programs that allow patients to opt in to allow them to be more engaged in their healthcare decision-making, while aligning personalized messaging with a patient’s intended utilization activity. These campaigns can be used as stand-alone solutions or integrated into broader marketing campaigns by pairing them with financial assistance or educational support programs.

Engaging live interactions

Successfully tackling adherence requires a comprehensive strategy that includes multiple communication channels to support patients towards positive behavioral outcomes. Coupling in-bound and out-bound support, live patient conversations can transform static traditional relationship marketing programs and allow live agents to uncover patient needs over time and use behavioral coaching techniques to address those needs. Pharma brands are increasingly leveraging live support, the insightful data provided through their co-pay programs, and segmentation tools to help predict a patient’s level of engagement or likelihood of being non-adherent, then allocating the investment accordingly.

Brands using these tools at enrollment can segment patients in order to provide additional support only to patient segments which need it. The interesting brand question then becomes which segment should you invest in: the group that you predict will be adherent and most engaged; the group you predict will not be adherent; or the group in the middle that could go either way?

This is a great conversation to have with your contact center strategist.

Amanda Rhodes