By Dane Schroeder, Group Account Director, McCann Health Managed Markets
As the United States experiences continued fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, unprecedented inflation and a looming recession, medication affordability issues are being exacerbated, which can lead to negative effects on patient adherence and outcomes.
Most pharmaceutical manufacturers offer co-pay and/or free drug programs, and many expanded them during the COVID-19 pandemic to manage the sudden large influx of patients in need. However, patient and provider awareness and utilization of these programs is often low. Most patients learn about financial assistance through their physicians or pharmacies, and as many providers reduced their contact with patients, it became difficult to raise awareness during the pandemic.
An ongoing decrease in provider bandwidth and increase in provider burnout continues to be felt across the health care landscape. Providers are stretched thin, with too many responsibilities and too little support, reducing the amount of time they are able to spend with patients and provide this necessary education.
Other factors may impede uptake of financial relief programs. Often, healthcare providers only discuss financial assistance if patients raise a concern about affordability— and patients are more likely to abandon their prescriptions or ask for less expensive alternatives than to ask for help.1
Additionally, many people—both patients and providers alike—believe that financial assistance programs are only for underserved communities and that other people need help more than they do.
How do we ensure patients can start and stay on the medicines they need, even if they can no longer afford to pay for them? Thinking differently about patient outreach and engagement is key to answering this question.
Escalate communications about financial assistance programs and relevant updates
Shift patients’ and providers’ expectations of who needs financial assistance
Activate all stakeholders
Infuse empathy into your communications
At McCann Health Managed Markets, we have robust experience in patient financial assistance program strategy, implementation, and communication. We can help you evolve your programs and materials for the current environment—and beyond—to reach patients and stakeholders across all channels in an impactful and cost-effective manner.
Because 90% of our choices are driven by emotion2, it is always important to strike the right tone when talking to patients and providers. This is especially imperative in the current environment, considering the crisis communication principles outlined above.
Our McCann Health Social Sciences proprietary empathy audits use data-driven techniques to measure emotion within communications and help affect decisions in a positive manner, providing recommendations to improve the text and tone of your communications. Additionally, our ARULE™ framework, validated in partnership with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, uses academically rigorous processes of health literacy to ensure materials are engaging and easy to understand and act upon.