At the Pharma CX Summit last month, industry experts gathered to share their insights into what’s working best today (or not) in getting more patients to start taking the medications recommended by their health care practitioners.

The impact of medication non-compliance is well-documented; it has been estimated that almost $300 billion in health care costs and are a direct result of patients skipping medication or not taking medications as directed.1

Keeping patients on therapy is difficult; getting them to begin can be an even more nuanced challenge.

According to the IQVIA institute, in 2019, 9% of all new prescription starts were abandoned at retail pharmacies after being filled. Cost is clearly one factor driving this trend. When a prescription carries no out-of-pocket cost, abandonment rates are under 5%. However, as the out-of-pocket costs increase, so do abandonment rates. Prescriptions with a cost over $125 are abandoned 45% of the time.2

Is managing cost and co-pays the single answer to getting more consistent new patient starts?

While cost is certainly a part of the problem, our panel cautioned that we need to take a more holistic and empathetic approach to design the full solution. When it comes to medication compliance, patients usually know what they should be doing but don’t consciously know why they aren’t doing it.

Understanding health psychology and evaluating a patient’s health belief system can help us identify which patients are most likely to initiate therapy and which patients need additional encouragement or education while providing insight into which approaches will work to drive compliance with specific patient populations.

At the time of diagnosis, HCPs are highly skilled at assessing a patient’s condition and evaluating the appropriate course of treatment, but they are less adept at assessing a patient’s intent to engage in their own health and even less prepared to evaluate how a patient’s belief system and personal values impact how committed they are to treatment.

If a patient with asthma doesn’t see their problem as a chronic disease, for example, they will be less likely to take daily maintenance medication and will rely instead on rescue inhalers to manage their condition. Getting to the heart of these belief systems is key to compliance.

Patient adherence programs are limited in their effectiveness without a strategy for segmentation and personalization to adapt the approach to individual patient needs and beliefs.

When considering a new therapy, patients can often be grouped into four categories:

    • The Confident
    • The Confused
    • The Concerned
    • The Resigned

Each require a different set of messages, resources, interventions, and skill-builders.

More traditional or direct educational programs and communication pathways can work with the Confident and Confused subgroups, but they’ll be less effective with patients who are Concerned about their treatment or related side-effects or those who are Resigned to living with their condition.

Applying empathy maps and a deeper understanding of how personal belief systems impact health behaviors and actions may be the key to getting patients on therapy – and keeping them on therapy over time.

This panel was moderated by Seth Painter, the co-host of the Pharma CX Summit, and included:

    • Bryan Zembrowski, Associate Director, Global Patient Marketing, Regeneron
    • Jim Doucette, Director, Customer Programs & Collaborations, AstraZeneca
    • Tim Glennon, Vice President, Marketing, Evofem Biosciences
    • Howard Seidman, Chief Operating Officer, CustomConnect

For more information on strategies for medication adherence, you can watch the full session here.

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