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William Febbo is CEO, OptimizeRx.
The marketing challenge for pharmaceutical companies has now shifted to "How can we successfully and cost-effectively assist providers in orchestrating better care?" William Febbo reports.
For decades, the pharmaceutical industry has measured success by drug sales, aiming for that pinnacle “blockbuster” medication that keeps the bottom line healthy year after year. While a drug that produces billions annually is still a key win for any company, marketing success is now driven by much more within the framework of value-based care.
The premise of “value” in health care is found in the industry’s ability to achieve the best outcomes at the lowest costs. Consequently, providers no longer work within a fee-for-service framework and must re-engineer care to keep patients healthier and out of acute care situations. This requires collaboration across the entire continuum, and pharmaceutical companies play a key role in this equation.
Simply put, it’s no longer enough to create and market an effective drug. Healthcare providers are looking to partner their pharmacy affiliates on a much higher level, to not only affect a moment in care, but to help achieve sustainable outcomes improvements across patient populations. As such, the marketing challenge for pharmaceutical companies now shifts: How can we successfully and cost-effectively assist providers in orchestrating better care?
Patient savings, education and adherence strategies are important considerations for empowering patients in their care for improved outcomes. It is in these three areas that pharmaceutical companies can also bring significant value to providers. The key is deploying and executing a multi-channel plan that actually reaches busy providers where they are-within existing care delivery workflows. Next-generation marketing strategies that draw on infrastructures to create open communication lines with providers at the point of care are poised to deliver tangible financial, clinical and brand support.
The burden associated with rising drug costs is not lost on today’s patients and providers. In fact, a perfect storm of cost challenges is hitting consumers from all sides, including high-deductible health plans, higher copays and a dwindling supply of generic brand options.
Pharmacy manufacturers have long incorporated use of coupons and vouchers as part of marketing campaigns, and the reality is that many patients depend on these offerings to afford needed medications. For instance, a recent study revealed that 90 of the top 200 drugs offer coupons, and more than 75 percent of those offering coupons have no generic equivalent. In addition, a survey by Atlantic Information Services revealed that 80 percent of physicians were either “more likely” or “much more likely” to prescribe a drug with a co-pay card, and 71 percent of providers want to know about drug discount copay/voucher programs.
Patients are increasingly looking to physicians to help them locate cost-savings options, yet busy providers often lack the resources and time to track down available opportunities. Consequently, billions of dollars in coupons and vouchers go unused annually.
Pharmaceutical companies can overcome this marketing shortfall through direct communication lines that embed cost-savings opportunities into EHRs workflows-where 85 percent of physicians are now prescribing medications. Point of prescribe networks that enable coupons and vouchers to automatically appear during ePrescribe processes do exist. In addition, physicians can conduct a drug search within the EHR, and nearly instantaneously receive coupon and voucher information that can be printed for use at a retail pharmacy provider.
This strategy produces a win-win for all stakeholders. Pharmacy manufacturers not only improve the likelihood that a physician will prescribe a drug, but they become better partners with providers by filling a critical information gap on savings opportunities. These strategies also help physicians optimize their own EHR investments by delivering value to patients at the point of care.
The benefits of embedding savings opportunities into ePrescribe workflows go well beyond affordability. Within evolving value-based care models, providers rely on point-of-care information in EHR-enabled workflows to help fuel quality improvement and population health initiatives.
Consider the challenge of medication non-adherence. When patients fail to purchase and take their medications as prescribed, physicians face significant barriers to moving the needle on outcomes. For example, a physician group may have a goal of reducing hospitalizations in diabetic populations by focusing on patient follow-through with medications to reduce A1C levels. If patients cannot afford their medications, then the provider group must overcome that barrier.
Notably, research shows that coupons and vouchers help providers improve follow-through with drug therapies as cost is a primary factor contributing to medication non-adherence. This is where direct communication lines can make a difference. When pharmaceutical companies can provide this kind of value within the physician’s existing electronic workflow, they elevate their role as a partner in outcomes improvement.
Population health efforts rely on actionable insights. Taking it a step further, physicians increasingly need confirmation and evidence that prescriptions and refills have been picked up to proactively manage population health. Pharmaceutical companies can add value by providing these insights through point-of-prescribe networks that brings all stakeholders together. Equipped with this information, providers can conduct outreach to promote follow-through with therapies.
The delivery of customized content from pharmacy companies can also help physicians better educate their patients on how to take their medications-an area that is sometimes overlooked within fast-paced provider environments. When this information is electronically provided to physicians at the right moment during a patient encounter, they are equipped with tools to empower patients with the knowledge needed to successfully comply with medication regimens.
As consumerism trends continue to evolve, physicians are increasingly under the gun to better develop their own brand in the market. Patients increasingly expect their providers to equip them with the clinical and financial knowledge to make the most informed decisions. Pharmaceutical companies can fill in critical gaps of this equation by delivering financial content within the provider workflow, enabling a transparent view of price so providers can empower their patients. Coupled with information on savings opportunities and educational insights, this collaborative approach to branding establishes a partnership built on high value between pharmacy companies and providers.
William Febbo is CEO of OptimizeRx.