Among the tectonic shifts created by the pandemic is an increase in patient touchpoints, according to a recent study1 of pharmaceutical manufacturers, healthcare service providers, and healthcare agencies. Americans continue to minimize in-person visits to their healthcare providers in favor of an increased reliance on email, telehealth, text messages, and apps. Additionally, COVID exacerbated the previously growing trend of limited in-office drug rep access to providers, which was declining pre-pandemic due to providers’ overloaded schedules.
The ability to effectively reach providers with targeted messages about patient savings programs, clinical and educational messages, and other relevant information has never been more critical. Eighteen million Americans, or 7% of U.S. adults, report they were recently unable to pay for at least one prescription medication, and that number was significantly higher for low-income households, at 20%.2
While traditional patient support methods have been proven to help patients start and stay on therapy, far too often they rely on patient- or provider-driven ad hoc phone calls and faxing rather than real-time digital and automated technologies to keep patients in the loop. Because incomplete or siloed information must be brought together from disconnected healthcare or payer sources, providers and patients may still experience frustrations in clearing hurdles to obtain their medications.
In-EHR Messaging Breaking Access Barriers
For prescribers, a digital messaging platform provides access and affordability answers within the workflow of their existing electronic health records (EHR) systems in real time at the point of prescribing. It’s not disruptive and it makes it easy to connect patients with brand-initiative support programs.
No longer is the EHR being viewed by brands and their agencies as simply a media buy of banner ads. As brands and their agencies have spent more time understanding EHR platforms, they recognize that it has evolved into a widely used method to provide critical touchpoints between both pharmaceutical companies and prescribers, and prescribers and their patients.
At ConnectiveRx, we have seen an increase in messaging programs that contain patient savings offers, auto-refill reminders, and custom clinical messaging. These programs work extremely well to complement banner buys: banners keep brands top of mind, while custom programs enable deeper education and patient support.
To better understand how the digital patient support experience can improve patient affordability and increase brand penetration, look at it through the eyes of a patient and their provider. After they have discussed a course of therapy, the provider logs into the EHR and goes to the electronic prescribing module to prescribe the medication. Once the medication is selected from within the electronic prescription module of the EHR, the system can display the patient’s out-of-pocket cost details and information about available coupon and copay programs. The patient encounter is the most valuable time for the patient to have a conversation with the provider about the cost of the medication and to address potential cost barriers that would prevent the patient from accepting the new therapy.
Armed with patient savings offers and information about the new therapy from their prescriber, the next step in the patient journey will be to go to the pharmacy. Here the pharmacist can help them get started on and understand their therapy.
The Evolving Role of Pharmacists
COVID testing and patient vaccination have evolved the role of the pharmacist. Community pharmacists have demonstrated their ability to reach patients who couldn’t or wouldn’t go for in-person visits to their physicians’ offices. They have played a critical role in making sure patients understand the importance of therapy adherence and to facilitate the best possible outcomes based on prescriber choices.
The pharmacist plays a vital role in helping patients understand therapy and the benefits of staying compliant. Recent data confirms pharmacists’ increasing role as a crucial link in patient continuation of therapy with Medication Therapy Management (MTM). In a ConnectiveRx analysis of patient compliance with a medication from Brand X, patients that received counseling experienced a 24% improvement in compliance based on the proportion of days covered. In addition, MTM generated a 37% increase in refill persistency per patient.3
Ultimately, it comes down to getting useful information in front of clinicians who can use it to optimize patient care. Medication can’t have a positive impact if the patient isn’t taking it, and high-impact communications that increase awareness and adherence while reducing out-of-pocket costs are critical.
1. “Patient Communication and the COVID-19 Pandemic” ConnectiveRx/CBI survey, September 2021.
3. ConnectiveRx case study for Brand X, July 2019 – November 2019; January 2020 – March 2021.