How Effective Is Your Patient Savings Program?

While the economy hasn’t officially fallen into a recession (thankfully), we are still facing stiff headwinds. Layoffs continue to be at the top of our newsfeeds, and rising costs are still a burden for many households across the nation, creating real hardship for those dealing with chronic conditions.

Having an effective patient assistance program that is easy to understand and intuitive to navigate is more important than ever.

Patient assistance programs offer tangible ways for consumers to afford medications, whether the savings come through vouchers, coupons or other means. At best, these programs offer healthcare professionals an alternative way for their patients to try a drug before paying for an entire 30 days or more of therapy.

Appropriately, the financial decision of how much and what the program offers is outside the influence of most pharma marketers because of legal and regulatory guidelines. However, marketers can significantly impact how the program is communicated to healthcare professionals and patients. The direction you choose can distinguish your product in the quest to drive preference and, ultimately, loyalty.

So how can marketers ensure that healthcare professionals (HCPs) and patients successfully use their programs?

1. Understand the script decision-making process for HCPs to know when and how to reach them. HCPs are not only stressed but also have competing priorities and a waiting room full of people. They may not remember your program when it matters most. Knowing that 91.5% of primary care physicians use an electronic health record system makes it appealing for a marketer to consider digital health media in their media plan or leave coupons in exam rooms. But are you using them to the fullest potential? Are you investing in resources and tools that will provide reminders at the time the prescription is written? Are you considering the role of office staff in the final decision of what product is prescribed? Understanding the HCP journey provides insight on when and how to intercept and personalize your content.

2. For patient savings programs that require an application process, focus on what users will experience throughout the process and prepare them for what to expect. Most patients need guidance to determine if they qualify, in addition to specific instructions on how to use the drug successfully. Our health insurance system is confusing and complex; it’s our job to make the program understandable. While pharma marketers are comfortable with terms like “prior auth,” “copay” or “coinsurance,” most patients are confused and often intimidated by these terms. Using short videos, charts, maps and quizzes can help lead them through the process of gathering and completing necessary information.

3. Simplify, simplify, simplify the process. Many savings programs require the HCP or, in most cases, their office staff to complete the paperwork. Have you invested time to understand how that process works on their end? Can you reduce the time required and eliminate areas of confusion in your application form? Conducting user testing before launching programs or program updates is vital to ensuring that the user experience is exactly the experience you intended. User test results provide valuable information and are powerful pieces of evidence to share with your Regulatory and Legal team. If you’ve simplified the process but still find the program difficult to navigate, consider a one-to-one call center approach. This solution is often more effective if the process involves complex approvals, for example.

Before launching your next patient assistance program update, take time to study the journey of all potential users and make sure you’ve optimized every aspect of the content and design. If you need a strategic marketing partner with experience in building and communicating patient assistance and copay savings program platforms, contact John.Petersen@Luckie.com to learn more about Luckie Health.