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Perspectives on Pharmaceutical Communication Channels II

Posted by Matt Breese on Jun 10, 2016

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Earlier this week, our perspectives on pharmaceutical communication channels explored some of the strategies that manufacturers leverage to connect with the healthcare network. Today, we will review these channels as it relates to both patients, pharmacies and HCPs. Check out the first post here.

Rounding out our point on how more frequent and transparent medical communication can help improve medication adherence, there are many reasons why patients do not pick up and pay for their prescriptions, such as:

  • Out-of-pocket costs
  • Concerns about side effects
  • Doubts about whether the medication will work
  • Failure to get prior authorization, if required

Patients also tend to be less compliant the longer the lapse between appointments or follow-up communication with their provider.

In the past, a patient left the provider’s office with prescription in hand and it was a mystery until the next appointment whether he/she ever filled and took the medication. Today, integrated pharma communication messaging from the provider and pharmacy, and also between the provider and pharmacy, can help improve adherence by tapping into one or more of the patient’s preferred communication channels:

  • Electronic prescriptions, which overcome one barrier — the patient hand carrying a prescription to the pharmacy
  • Integrated technology, so pharmacies can update a patient’s prescription acquisition in an electronic health record
  • Follow-up phone calls, printed patient-education materials, texts and/or email messages from the provider’s office and/or the pharmacy, which can confirm critical information about how to take the medication or just remind a patient to get the prescription filled
  • Personalized apps and patient portals for provider communication, and for easy access to health plan and pharmacy benefits
  • Social networking driven by healthcare professionals and/or organizations

Informative data points and reassuring health communication can go a long way toward helping patients be compliant. It can also counter some of the influence lay-person social networking has on patients. Not all social networking is positive as many consumers share their personal experiences even though they have no professional experience or knowledge.

In May, MarketResearchReports.biz published a report examining the role played by social media and e-communication as it relates to pharma. It showed that 83 percent of Internet users use the Internet to search for medication and healthcare information. This represents a great opportunity for pharma to not only post accurate medication information, but also to capitalize on social media as a tool to promote their brand identity and corporate image in pharmaceutical marketing and advertising, and to directly communicate with healthcare consumers.

Communication in a changing pharmacy practice

According to the American Pharmacists Association, more state legislators are interested in implementing pharmacist-provided care as a way to improve their constituents’ health and lower healthcare costs. In 2014, there were 26 state bills introduced to expand pharmacist-provided care. In 2015, there were at least 75 such bills. As of 2015, 38 states had some type of legislation that:

  • Designated licensed pharmacists as providers
  • Defined the scope of service
  • Developed reimbursement protocols for pharmacist-provided care

California’s Senate Bill 493 (SB 493), which was signed into law in 2013, set the stage for provider status for pharmacists in the state. It expanded the scope of practice for pharmacists and gave them the authority to:

  • Furnish nicotine replacement therapy
  • Administer travel medications and immunizations to patients three years of age and older without a physician protocol
  • Provide self-administered hormonal contraceptives under a specific protocol adopted by the Board of Pharmacy

“The key to all of these authorities in SB 493 is communication with the physician,” says Lisa Kroon, PharmD, chair of the department of clinical pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco. “We are part of a team, and we have to make sure that they are communicating with the patient’s primary care provider.”

As pharmacists’ practices expand, communication with providers, payers and patients takes on greater importance. Pharma and local pharmacists need a strategic approach that utilizes multiple communication channels to ensure their targeted audiences have accurate therapy information and visibility to alternative treatments based on coverage intelligence.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Market Access, Provider, Payer