5 Maxims for Flawless Co-pay Program Execution

After working with dozens of pharmaceutical companies, hundreds of programs and millions of patient interactions, one thing is clear: The success of any co-pay program is largely determined by how well it is executed in the field. In fact, field execution is second in importance only to the offer itself.

And just as there are five overall imperatives for program success (optimal offer development, channel selection, field execution, outcomes measurement, and budgeting and finance), likewise, the five maxims for flawless co-pay program execution include:

1. 100% Executive and Sales Management Buy-in Is Required

Leadership needs to align 100% with the strategy, the offer and the channels used. This may sound obvious, but nothing creates doubt in a field force more than an uninterested or unconvinced leader.

Getting support from top-level general and sales managers can help you and your co-pay program in several ways, such as getting a time slot on meeting agendas, getting robust statements of support and even getting sales-team incentive-comp bumps based on co-pay program penetration.

But as important as it is to get support from upper management, it’s much more important to get the field-level managers on board. As we all recall from our days “carrying the bag,” what the district manager inspects is what the sales rep respects. Work extra hard to teach field managers the basics of why co-pay programs are so important for patients, for prescribers and for a brand’s success (you might refer them to the first article in this series, which lays out some of the stats: https://www.pm360online.com/five-imperatives-for-coupon-and-co-pay-program-success.)

2. Sales Rep Co-pay Knowledge Cannot Be Assumed

It’s easy to take for granted that the sales force already knows the ins and outs of co-pay programs. Don’t make this mistake! If you’re not absolutely sure of a sales team’s knowledge level, don’t be afraid to start with the basics. Find a way to get time into sales meetings to teach them how the card works, review patient scenarios in the pharmacy, etc.

Other key areas of training: Why the offer is what it is; how it aligns with managed care strategy/access/contracting/coverage; how the cards will be supplied; quantities; expectations; role-playing scenarios; pharmacy call scenarios, etc. Finally, your team may benefit from training on reports—what is in the data, where it comes from, when/how they will see the reports, etc.

3. Reports Are Not Shelf Art, But Actionable Intelligence

Once your program is up and running, your co-pay program provider will give you a slew of reports (e.g., portal, “push” reports, dashboards, emails, etc.). And if you’ve built your program with solid objectives and meaningful metrics (see https://www.pm360online.com/the-no-1-imperative-for-all-co-pay-programs-the-offer), these reports should deliver intelligence that you and your team can use to adjust your program to make it more successful.

Make the time to get familiar with the reports you get. If you don’t know how to read or interpret them, ask your provider to train you! Or have them send you a “highlights of the week/month” CliffsNotes version. Whatever it takes, get in the habit of reviewing key data on a regular basis so you can spot changes or anomalies. Pay special attention to trends, usage data for key targets, match to call cycle and targets, etc.

Even if you can’t take time on a daily or weekly basis to do a deep dive, there are a few specific times in the life of every program when you really need to pay close attention: 1) One week and one month after program launch; 2) one week and one month after making any substantive changes to your offer or channels; 3) one week and one month after any significant change in your managed markets coverage; and 4) one week and one month after any substantial change in your competitive situation.

4. Advanced Analytics Can Take You From Good to Great

No matter how thorough (and at times, overwhelming) your standard reports are, your co-pay program provider can offer you an array of ad hoc advanced or specialized reports at an extra cost. These are not offered to you just so your provider can rake in more profit. On the contrary, there are circumstances in which the knowledge gained from these more complex reports can supercharge your program and raise your ROI significantly. Ask your provider about what’s available and what might make sense in your situation. Listen carefully to what they say. Order one or two advanced reports (maybe with a money-back guarantee) to test their value for your brand. You won’t know until you try.

5. No Battle Plan Survives Contact With the Enemy

Okay, so I can’t take full credit for this one: Let’s give it up for German military strategist, Helmuth von Moltke. But the point he made in the 1800s applies to us today: When a plan meets the real world, the real world wins. Nothing goes exactly as planned. So you’ve got to adjust based on how prescribers and patients respond to your offer. Adjust based on how your competitors react. And adjust based on opportunities and threats stemming from payer issues, regional and other geographical distinctives, etc. For example, if you get a surprise regional formulary, and win right out of the gate, focus the power of your co-pay program to pull through on that win!

Despite the tension that surrounds it, the launch phase of any co-pay program can be a time of profound learning and great victories. What’s more, we should never forget that reducing patient OOP costs increases adherence, improves clinical outcomes and can even reduce total healthcare spending.

  • Chris Dowd

    Chris Dowd is Senior Vice President, Market Development at ConnectiveRx. Chris has 25 years of pharma experience in sales, operations, managed care, and marketing positions, including Executive Director and VP levels in Pfizer, Esprit Pharma, and Allergan. Visit www.ConnectiveRx.com.

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