Here is a look at four primary ways that the EMR/ERx Channel can be used to both benefit the patient and provider while generating a return for your brand.

In our first column we focused on the differences between e-prescribing (ERx) systems, electronic medical records (EMRs) and electronic health records (EHRs). We then turned our attention in the February column to how an e-prescription is created and how that differs from the traditional “pen and paper” method that continues to decrease as e-prescribing becomes the dominant method of “writing” a prescription.

Now that we have these basic items covered we turn our attention to another important question that our readers and clients are asking: What can a pharma marketer actually do with e-prescribing or EMR/EHR systems? In other words, how can these new tools be used to benefit patients and providers while also generating a return for the marketer’s brand?

We’ll focus on four primary ways that this channel can be used with patients and providers, and include an example or two to illustrate our points. Our list will be far from exhaustive given space limitations, so if you have additional questions feel free to contact me so we can continue the discussion.

 1. A Foundation for Education and Engagement

The most fundamental use for this communication channel is to educate and engage with patients and providers. For example, let’s say a physician, NP or PA is starting a patient on a new medication. The patient may have been diagnosed only moments before the prescription is written, and is now faced with the realization that he/she needs to start taking a medication that could be in his/her medicine cabinet for the rest of his/her life. That’s a lot to think about and absorb in the few minutes he/she will spend with his/her provider, and it’s likely one of the reasons that patients abandon 30% or more of their newly prescribed medications at the pharmacy when e-prescribing is not used.

But what if the providers had a system in place that automatically generated patient education information for patients within seconds of prescribing the medication? When the provider (or staff) hands patients that educational information along with instructions to pick up their prescription, they start them on a path toward improved adherence. And that information can be just the start of a comprehensive series of “touch points” in which patients receive information at the pharmacy or via other channels, all designed to further engage patients in their therapy and management of their condition.

A recent study by Surescripts, which operates the nation’s largest clinical health information network, showed that e-prescribing alone reduced Rx abandonment rates by 10%. Our data shows that delivering information to the patient in the office via the e-prescribing/EMR system can improve both first fill abandonment and longer-term adherence to an even greater degree. So the first way to think about using EMR/ERx communications channels is as the foundation of your patient education/engagement efforts.

 2. Connecting With the Provider

Many pharma marketers don’t realize that these systems can also deliver information to the prescribing healthcare provider. Imagine a provider who starts a search for a medication within a particular category. That’s an ideal time to deliver a non-invasive, appropriately placed reminder on the screen of his/her computer or tablet about a particular medication in the class. That message can help to keep your brand top of mind at critical points in the decision process.

There are many types of messages that can be delivered as the provider creates a prescription, ranging from a simple reminder of the brand to a message that relates to the quantity of a chronic use medication to be dispensed. An EMR communications partner focused on the long-term health of their business and with the best interests of your brand in mind will be able to help you think through the types of messages that can be delivered in an appropriate and non-invasive way while still helping you achieve your brand and campaign goals. This is an area in which working with an experienced partner can really make a difference. Healthcare providers are generally open to receiving both branded and unbranded messages via their EMR or ERx system, but these must be carefully designed and constructed to fit within the providers’ workflow while still capturing their attention in an appropriate way.

 3. Improved Co-pay Assistance

Co-pay cards have become the norm for the pharmaceutical industry, and offer many benefits to sponsoring brands. But too often the provider forgets to give the card to the patient, or can’t find the card they want when they need it, which opens the door to writing a prescription for a competing brand. EMR/ERx systems allow the co-pay offer to be automatically generated when the prescription is written, and the information needed to process the co-pay assistance can be included with the prescription as it is sent to the pharmacy.

Our company recently introduced an enhancement to this process that allows the pharmacist, patient and provider to be reminded of the co-pay assistance when the prescription is written, which can lead these important customers to a better understanding of the value your brand delivers. And if for some reason the prescription can’t be electronically transmitted, the patient can receive the co-pay offer—or even the prescription itself—in print, along with the educational message.

 4. Over-the-Counter (OTC) Product Information

Finally, we’ve noticed increased interest in using EMR/ERx systems to deliver information about non-prescription products. Because these medications and products now play such an important role for patients (and because they are increasingly recommended by providers), it’s important to have the ability to deliver information about OTC products using the same technology and methods used for prescription products.

EMR/ERx systems are quickly becoming the “go-to” method for delivering information to patients and providers. Feel free to drop us a line to let us know about the ways you are using them—or want to use them—for your brand.

  • Mark Heinold

    Mark Heinold is CEO of PDR, the largest EMR and digital communications network. PDR connects prescribers, pharmacists and patients to improve health outcomes through targeted communications, and is the publisher of the renowned Physicians Desk Reference. PDR delivers health information designed to positively improve health behaviors through a variety of digital, office-based and pharmacy-based channels.

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