4 Steps to Improve Patient Adherence With Specialty Pharmacy Products

By Tim McLaughlin

One point that no one can deny is that in 2020, if you are a psoriasis patient, you have options. You cannot watch an hour of broadcast or cable television without seeing a spot about the possibility of “clear or almost-clear skin.”

Pharma spends millions of dollars in the psoriasis category to compete for new patients. What’s more surprising is how long the average patient stays on that therapy and the opportunity for incremental growth.

Keeping with the psoriasis example, an article published by the National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI) shed light on the compliance issues that exist within biologics. The average total prescription per person ranges between 1 to 3 doses. Also, 50% of those prescribed a biologic won’t receive a second dose. There are many things contributing to the specialty pharmacy adherence issues; however, the one area these brands can control is patient expectation and communication throughout the process.

Improving the average total prescription by even half a dose would be a windfall for these brands, and there are a few steps they can take to get themselves there.

Include a BI/marketing opt-in on the hub/specialty pharmacy referral forms.

For some patients, specialty pharmacy and benefits investigations (BIs) are a completely new process. Once a decision has been made on treatment, there is a period of unknown that may occur while the benefits approval takes place. In some cases, the patient may have to come back to the office for treatment; in others, they may be mailed a product directly. Clearly communicating each step of the process and the associated expectations is crucial.

Map the data accumulating throughout the benefits investigation to key milestones—and the lack of activity, too.

As the hub builds the profile for each patient, there will be opportunities to communicate progress that will not overwhelm the patient. In a recent study, 87% of participants reported rejecting or ignoring phone calls from an unknown number. When the time comes to get a patient on the phone, a preemptive message goes a long way to improve the successful call rate for your hub.

Also, it’s not abnormal for a week to go by with no real update. Business rules should account for this scenario to ensure a triggered message keeps your patient engaged.

Email is good. SMS is better.

Ongoing status updates via email check the box, but SMS will significantly improve message exposure, especially when time is of the essence. Fingerpaint has found open rates on transactional BI updates over 95%. As a result, patients stay significantly more engaged throughout the process and are responsive.

Since the initial opt-in is via the referral form, it’s best to confirm that action via a second opt-in with your first SMS message before sending BI status updates.

Make sure it’s two-way communication.

If it’s okay for you to reach patients via email and SMS, it should be okay for them to do the same. Put in place a way to provide real-time, personalized feedback. It’s reasonable to only provide so much information via SMS or email, and then transition the patient to your call center for a more in-depth conversation or to a social site to provide further patient support.

Tim McLaughlin leads Digital Strategy for Fingerpaint's Phoenix office. He may be reached at tmclaughlin@fingerpaint.com.