As COVID-19 accelerated the use of digital companions, pharma now has a glimpse into the future model of patient support. Digital health provides powerful new technologies to engage patients but in assessing this evolving landscape it’s important to keep both the patient’s needs and your programs in mind. Digitizing support programs engage patients and can help create a superior patient experience. That being said, there are three important points to consider as your organization gets started to ensure a seamless patient experience. Let’s dive in.

1. Reducing “Patient Fall-Off”

Let’s face it, managing medications is overwhelming. Whether it’s trying to make sense of the prior authorizations or managing through complex dosing schedules, patients can fall-off treatment during many different moments. But first, it is critical to understand that each patient has a unique situation and that everyone requires a different level of care, follow up, and intervention, especially when it comes to their approach of managing their medications. The good news is digital drug companions empower patients with visibility and resources to navigate medications through their treatment journey, from treatment initiation to managing multiple medications and monitoring for potential side effects.

Access to medication is surprisingly the highest point of patient fall-off. After receiving a diagnosis and a script in hand from the doctors, almost 30% go unfilled! For many patients, the eligibility and prior authorization process is so challenging that it becomes a barrier for patients to actually fill their scripts. This is even more prevalent for patients on specialty medications, which require prior authorization and coordination between specialty pharmacies, hubs, and payers.

Digital companion programs provide visibility into this process with step-by-step instructions to prompt and motivate patients through the insurance process, and even help patients schedule delivery of the medication to their preferred address. Digital drug companions expedite the path for those patients to get their first fill and ultimately their first take through tracking the process and exposing patients to programs, such as financial assistance. For many patients taking specialty medications, navigating the eligibility and process is extremely challenging, but offering that connected care experience helps reduce the risk of fall-off.

2. Providing a Seamless Experience is Essential

One of the most important tips to consider when kicking off a digital companion program is to integrate patient support programs into the patient’s daily routines, making support accessible and seamless during treatment regimens. To do this, program coordination is required so that patient support programs are “trained” on one another. The goal is to provide a holistic support program for the patient, so it’s important to map the patient journey with the matching resources and programs so that the patient’s behaviors and actions trigger the appropriate support which likely interact across multiple platforms.

A seamless experience also requires sophisticated and flexible technology to orchestrate unique patient journeys with interoperability to coordinate with various platforms. Integration is key to achieve this level of connectivity. It streamlines the prior authorization process, provides visibility into shipment and refills, and even connects into care coordination to help to promote adherence. Digital drug companions identify and target interventions for patients who may benefit from additional assistance, which in some cases require a “human-intervention” routed to immediate clinical attention.

3. Connecting with the Patient at the Right Time

Processing a diagnosis is massive and patients have limited time with their providers discussing treatments. While pharmacists review the medication instructions, questions undeniably emerge when patients struggle to incorporate all this information into their daily routines. The “right time” to connect with patients is on “their time.” This often occurs outside of the doctor’s office or the pharmacy visit.

While our digital channels provide robust resources, patients don’t need to sift (or click) through mountains of information on a pharmaceutical company’s website to get the answers to their questions. The ability to create these “digital conversations” with patients to guide them through treatment and influence behavior is one of the key benefits of leveraging digital drug companions. These digital conversations are AI-generated personalized engagement supporting patients with a digital handhold through their challenges and guiding them through uncertainties.

Connecting with patients at critical points in treatment during which they tend to miss dosages or prematurely stop taking their medication is very important. Regular touchpoints, including customized motivational feedback, timely therapeutic resources, and reminders for patients to take and refill their medications reduces disease burden and ultimately improves quality of life. Digital companions that provide personalized support for patients managing specialty medication regimens have been demonstrated to improve adherence and outcomes. Digital companions can also help patients remain engaged with their treatment. We’ve found most patients engage with content before or after their scheduled medication “takes.” Digital drug companions also encourage patients to ask for help when needed, through functions such as a “Need Help” button, which should be prominently displayed throughout the program and connects patients with a support line.

A Few Final Reminders

One of the most important things to keep in mind when kicking off a digital drug companion program is to be impactful, which means providing support when patients are actively managing medications. Net provider scores (NPS) serve as a solid benchmark as to how successfully an organization’s digital companion program is supporting patients. Strong satisfaction rates foster a digital relationship, creating an even better sense of brand loyalty. Furthermore, satisfied patients are engaged, which ultimately lifts medication adherence and that is the end goal for digital companion programs in the first place.

  • Jen Butler

    Jen Butler is Chief Marketing Officer at Medisafe. Jen has more than 20 years of marketing and consulting experience, including specific expertise in scaling up successful brands, developing effective marketing programs, building high-performance teams and strategically positioning companies for growth.

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