As the healthcare system continues to shift toward finding ways to support and inform patients throughout their medical journeys, pharmaceutical brands have embraced the idea of patient interaction and are growing more comfortable with seeing patients not just as active participants, but as the most important part of the prescription process. Brands recognize that it is crucial patients ultimately feel empowered and informed.
Patients must be engaged because in the end they’re the ones who have to sign off on the treatment—and that’s where mobile communications can play a significant role in helping patients feel empowered and actively involved from day one, providing them with the prescription and support information they need from a credible source. New tools offer patients a simple and seamless way to access prescription support services and connect them to alerts, reminders, and support communities, ultimately helping to boost adherence. A recent study of 50 major brands by HelpAround found that the vast majority of patients (78%) primarily used their mobile devices to access pharma brand websites, while only 22% used their desktop.
These mobile tools—including live chat with nurses and case managers, access to copay support, and the ability to match patients with others experiencing similar challenges—leverage patients’ smartphones to integrate the therapy journey into their daily routines and help empower them to take a more active role in their own care.
When it comes to engaging patients through their mobile devices, I think about my own experience, where I instinctively reach for my phone instead of my laptop or desktop when I need information. Because your phone is always on you, it’s become more of a trusted source than a computer—and for a growing number of us it’s become our safety blanket.
Leveraging this increasing dependence, mobile care platforms can connect in a single place the individual silos that are supporting patients across their journey. You can almost look at it as a data and communication aggregator or data warehouse for patients: If you have everything connecting into a single service to keep patients well informed, you’re providing a single source of truth that will benefit not just patients and physicians, but also give brands more leverage to find the best-in-class option for each one of those silos. It allows patients to stop worrying about how they’re going to make all of the communications work.
Brands are always grasping for a one-stop solution, but there is not anyone in this space that can say they’re the best in class in every category such as clinical education, copay, access services, field reimbursement support, or billing and coding support. This could enable brands to create their own best-in-class solution for their specific patients and providers by choosing the best-in-class individual vendors to support each part of the journey. It all ties together in a seamless communication package for the patient because it all feeds back into this mobile platform. All of the data then flows into a single source, providing another brand advantage.
Copay Card via Mobile
When it comes to the copay card, it can be served up in different ways. It could be the primary driver of why a brand uses a mobile platform or it could be an ancillary task in the process. Typically, brands want to secure patient consent then acquire information from the patient such as insurance details or date of birth because they want to customize that patient’s affordability option experience. They don’t want to create a negative brand experience by not doing enough vetting to learn if a patient qualifies.
The goal is to position it in a way that allows the brand to collect patient information at consent—with benefit verification being the ultimate source—and later, they can alert patients that they “appear to be eligible for a copay card” through the hub once the benefit verification is completed and the benefits form has been sent back to the physician. The message to the patient is tailored around the copay card at that point, including the out-of-pocket expense.
In addition, push notifications can be used to keep patients informed of the benefits investigation and where their medication is overall in the approval process. With payer processes typically opaque to patients, this is one way for patients to know when hurdles have been cleared or if the approval process has been held up at a certain step.
The Importance of Patient Counseling
If the patient is not eligible, however, the benefits summary can be tailored differently, letting the patient know the options that may be available, whether that’s a third-party foundation support, a Medicare low-income subsidy, or another option. In this case, the messaging is much different and the mobile experience can serve as a mechanism for a phone counseling session with a case manager, creating a more personalized experience in what often can be a difficult and complex situation. The mobile platform can help keep the patient engaged in the process, help them see who is contacting them, and facilitate the ability to easily set up appointments.
The lead time between when patients leave their physician’s office and when they have their prescribed specialty medication in their hands or when they go back in for their infusion or injection can be weeks. Having this mobile “switch” that is constantly on, giving patients the ability to check in or digitally raise their hand and click for a case manager to call them back when it’s convenient for the patient, is crucial. Mobile offers a more engaging platform for patients even if it’s passive engagement, shedding more light on the process for patients and helping to reduce abandonment by keeping them interested in the medication.
Time is the enemy when it comes to specialty medications because of the hurdles that often have to be overcome just to get patients on therapy. Mobile support can keep the patient engaged through ancillary services, whether it’s nurse education support, adherence, or general health benefit support, so patients are more prepared when the medication finally comes.
The specialty medication experience can be a scary and painful one for patients. Incorporating mobile tools that help make the process easier to navigate and more engaging and useful can deliver improved outcomes for providers, brands, and most importantly, the patients they both serve.