Prescription abandonment is a huge problem that negatively affects patients, physicians and pharmaceutical brands. We’ve explained before how important it is for brands to understand the true causes behind abandonment rates spanning the whole patient journey. Whether abandonment occurs pre-pharmacy, at the counter or with neglected refills, correctly interpreting the data surrounding this problem is the first step toward improving adherence.
Once you know where patients are falling off, you can drive patient engagement by changing your strategy to reach patients at the right time, in the right place and with the right message. How can you accomplish this? It takes a program that leverages brand, pharmacy and patient data in order to communicate specialized offers and incentives through the right channels to reach your patients most effectively.
Let’s take a closer look at and how your patient engagement program can reduce abandonment rates, increase adherence and improve patient experience.
Patient Engagement Strategies that Reduce Abandonment
Pre-Pharmacy Patient Abandonment
The pharmacy counter isn’t the only place abandonment occurs. Frequently, patients don’t even make it that far. It could be because of uncertainty about cost or something as simple as forgetfulness. At this stage, text and email reminders can be a powerful patient engagement tool to increase fills, even if the patient is busy, forgetful or hesitant.
What can be beneficial is developing a relationship with your patients by opening up a dialog with them. Like anything else, improving engagement is about clear and helpful communication. You could send patients an email reminding them they have a script and that they have a copay card they can use to ease the cost burden. Having a copay card can help a patient be more certain about their ability to afford a medication and thus be more likely to go to the pharmacy to fill it.
Research has shown that over 31% of initial prescriptions are never filled. Truveris’ data shows that approximately 33% of patients — and sometimes upward of 40% — receive a copay card but don’t use it. By linking your activation and copay redemption data, you can identify those people who didn’t fill their initial prescription and drive better engagement.
Patient Abandonment at the Pharmacy
Addressing patient abandonment at the pharmacy counter requires the same tactics used for pre-pharmacy abandonment but relies on different data. Instead of looking to your copay card activation data for insight, claims data will point you toward the patients to target with your patient engagement strategy.
When a patient reaches the pharmacy but chooses not to fill their prescription, this is called a reversal. Most often, patients walk away because they find the prescription too cost prohibitive. Other barriers include service issues, a lack of understanding of the value of a drug, or the pharmacist switching to a generic. One chance to engage with a patient to determine their reasons for abandoning is when they arrive at the pharmacy but walk away. Whether over email or text, a message develops a relationship with the patient, provides your brand with meaningful data and offers the potential to move forward. Using this data, brands can formulate targeted offers and provide patients with the information they need, leading to greater patient satisfaction and more fills.
Abandonment Throughout the Patient Journey
Finally, your engagement program can be used to improve adherence throughout the patient journey. By using copay claims data, brands can help ensure patients make it back to the pharmacy and reduce abandonment once they’re there. The goal is to understand the cadence of fills for each of your patients. If you know when patients need to order a refill, you can deliver targeted reminders to encourage a fill.
Let’s consider a once-daily, pill-based script as an example. The days supply on a claim combined with the date of fill is a key indicator for when a patient is going to run out. Send them a message a few days before reminding them to fill. If they don’t fill the prescription in time, this is an opportunity for another message encouraging the patient not to miss a couple days of therapy. This also provides an opportunity to provide helpful educational information about the benefits of adherence (e.g., better outcomes). A good engagement strategy, aligned with your brand strategy and data can improve adherence rates and achieve brand goals.
When it comes to patient engagement, your engagement program should never exist in a vacuum. It should be fueled by genuine patient data. Keeping communication open throughout the patient journey means you can not only increase engagement, but significantly lower patient abandonment rates.