Since March 2020, demands on the time and energy of physicians have never been greater. What was once considered a “normal” day has changed and is not likely to ever go back to how they once were. Consider what it means to be, say, an immunologist in today’s environment. With a volatile labor market, patients are losing and/or switching jobs more frequently, so commercial insurance is lost or changing. That means physicians increasingly must keep track of drug costs for branded, generic, and biosimilar options in accordance with the best clinical choices for an individual patient, because higher prices easily lead to non-adherence. Then, because this is a specialty area, prior authorization (PA) requirements are prevalent and range greatly in levels of complexity which, again, affects adherence.

Working with the Post-COVID Patient

When the pandemic cut off direct contact between many patients and their physicians, patient behavior began to more closely resemble that of a general consumer. Much like the research they put into purchasing a new car or electronic device, patients have become better at seeking out clinical and savings information on their medications. However, their online searches often redirect them from the brand websites where they will find accurate, up-to-date information down a rabbit hole of unvetted information from third-party sources. When patients find wrong or misleading information, physicians spend precious time re-educating their patients.

Helping HCPs and Patients Get and Stay on Medications

So, how can brands help today’s burnt-out physicians? Using a variety of digital in-EHR workflow tools, brands can take up the most positive, relevant, and beneficial real estate in the minds and memories of the overworked physician. For example, brands could provide clinically relevant in-EHR messaging and print outs that allow prescribers to more effectively communicate with their patients in real time. Additionally, brands can provide physicians with information about the actual out-of-pocket costs for medications, including any patient assistance programs. Prescribers armed with this information are more likely to advocate for their first-choice medications.

PAs are often time consuming, difficult to obtain, and can require significant administrative resources. As a result, prescribers are willing to consider generics and biosimilars as faster and less expensive options, limiting the prescribing of branded medications that require PAs to situations where it’s absolutely clinically necessary.

Electronic prior authorizations (ePAs) are continuing to gain in popularity because they can dramatically reduce administrative burdens. For those PAs which are not complex, when the request is sent digitally versus a phone call or fax machine, approval can come through in seconds or minutes instead of hours or days. For more complex PAs, digital tools that automatically enroll patients in the hub or buy-down a first fill allow patients to get started—affordably—on their prescriber’s first choice medication while waiting for PA approval.

Brands that actively support burnt-out physicians with digital tools like these are more likely to be remembered as affordable, reliable in its clinical information, easy to gain approval, and an advocate for physician and patient engagement.

  • Chris Dowd

    Chris Dowd is Senior Vice President of Market Development at ConnectiveRx. In his more than 25-year career, he has become a recognized voice in the patient affordability and specialty medication arena, pioneering prominent copay and patient affordability programs, and creating innovative solutions for his clients.

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