As published by Drug Channels Institute | Read the full article
By Chris Dowd | SVP, Market Development at ConnectiveRx
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to test and transform our healthcare system, consumer and provider behavior has evolved dramatically. As a result, the patient support space is evolving in several important ways as doctors, pharmacists, pharmaceutical companies and of course patients are all feeling the monumental impact of the pandemic.
It is hard to believe that nearly one billion patient diagnosis visits did not happen in 2020. Simply put, if patients don’t make it to the doctor’s office, they often don’t get diagnosed or receive treatment. While telehealth continues to increase in popularity, a majority of patients, 70%, chose a nearby doctor for their virtual appointments, signaling they may at some point want to return to in-person care. This points to telehealth continuing to be a complement for in-person care rather than an alternative.
1. PATIENTS MORE WILLING TO SHARE INFORMATION
With an increased reliance on our devices, patients have become willing to digitally access, share and receive personal health information digitally. Whereas pre-pandemic, patients may have shown a hesitancy to enroll in services, the pandemic has led a record number of patients to abandon their fear of sharing their personal health information online. This means hospitals and apps ultimately can transform the patient experience and healthcare overall because the reports that are generated from this data have the potential to change the game.
2. REMOTE CARE BREAKTHROUGH
According to Accenture, healthcare consumers have shown an interest in virtual care. And as increasing numbers of healthcare consumers are open to receiving virtual healthcare services from their traditional providers (54%), they are also willing to receive virtual care from technology or social media companies, retail brands, and medical startups.
However, when it comes to paying HCPs for their teleheath services, payers are not yet in agreement about how to best go about it. Yet despite these growing pains, adoption continues to accelerate because all parties agree that telehealth is a powerful tool that ultimately benefits patients.
3. EVOLVING ROLE OF PHARMACISTS
As a result of the pandemic and the associated isolation, patients are also moving to different sites of care. Pharmacists and pharmacies are now doing more than ever. And patients have become used to this new route, seeing their pharmacy and pharmacists almost as surrogate doctors. Recent data confirms pharmacists’ increasing role as a crucial link in patient continuation of therapy. In a ConnectiveRx analysis of patient compliance with a medication from Brand X, there was a nearly 24% improvement in compliance among patients under medication therapy management (MTM) based on the proportion of days covered. In addition, MTM generated a 37% increase in refill persistency per patient.
4. PHARMA COMPANIES SEEKING SHARE OF VOICE
Pharma companies are continuing to look for new ways to meet HCPs because rep visits were nearly decimated during COVID and are only slowly creeping back. According to a recent survey of over 1000 HCPs by the Physicians Desk Reference, more than half of respondents, 55%, are not permitting rep visits either because of institutional policy or personal choice.
In-person detailing is now approximately only 52% of the norm/pre-pandemic levels. Reps were saturated in offices, and some offices did not allow reps to visit. While the pandemic meant no rep visits, offices are now slowly letting them back—but only at 52-60% capacity, higher for some specialists.
Brands have lost 50% share of voice in offices, so pharma continues to buy into new share of voice tools as they seek novel ways to get their brand messaging across to providers and patients. These tools that help brands reach pharmacists and that help pharmacists reach and educate patients have never been more valuable.
One example is in-EHR messaging, which has evolved from simply an advertising channel into a critical touch point between both pharmaceutical companies and prescribers and prescribers and their patients, enabling deeper patient education and support. According to a recent ConnectiveRx survey of pharma manufacturers, respondents are most likely to report budget increases for digital marketing outreach (59%) and patient engagement (57%), followed closely by virtual e-detailing (52%) and prescriber engagement (48%).
Making the enrollment channel faster and easier for patients to access potentially life-saving therapies is just one of many successful strategies for increasing the likelihood that patients receive their first dose and remain on their course of treatment.
With continuing changes in patient and physician behavior, pharmaceutical companies will continue to adjust to these new realities and seek innovative partners to help.
To learn more about how the pandemic is reshaping the healthcare ecosystem, we invite you to watch Four Big Implications for Patients and the Prescription Journey in 2022 on demand.