Taking specialty medication is not usually as easy as taking a once daily pill. Rather, many specialty products require careful patient focus on how they should be handled and administered properly. Even when patients are prescribed a daily oral specialty medication, many of those oral medications come with a toxicity profile, or even a food requirement that must be carefully understood. For some specialty medications, patients may need to arrange travel and overnight stays if they’re receiving treatment administered at a location that might not be nearby.
In order for these therapies to work the way they’re intended, it’s critical for the manufacturers to think carefully about how to share necessary and useful information of this nature with patients throughout the therapy journey. The right communication, at the right cadence, has the power to promote safe, effective use of complex specialty therapy brands. This is what gives patients an optimal chance of success with therapy.
Below, find 4 key elements manufacturers should consider when focusing on how to engage patients effectively:
1. The Right Program Design
To kick off the development of an effective engagement strategy for specialty products, an initial assessment should typically be performed. This assessment carefully considers the patient population and the common barriers they might experience while initiating and staying on treatment.
From there, an engagement strategy can be properly designed. During design, the hub team can be answering questions like:
- Which channels of communication are going to be most engaging for this population?
- At what key moments in the reimbursement and overall treatment journey must we ensure patients know the status of their prescription?
- What specific events should trigger messages to be sent to patients or other stakeholders?
- How will we deal with any anticipated adverse events?
- How often will we engage throughout the journey, and through which channel?
- What data will we capture?
- Is there a need to segment patients into groups? For instance, are some people at higher risk of not starting therapy, or of discontinuing?
CareMetx brings over a decade of experience developing patient engagement programs in the specialty therapy industry, meaning we have the deep expertise needed to answer these questions.
2. The Right Content
After the patient engagement strategy has been designed, needs for appropriate communication pieces, by channel, should now be clear, and content can be developed that is:
- Relevant, because it addresses the barriers we know this population commonly struggles with
- Effectively leveraging appropriate behavioral change and educational techniques
- Written at the appropriate health literacy level
- Optimized for delivery through the right channels
- Interactive, in the sense that it invites patients to think how the information might apply to their personal situation
Next, when it comes to effective patient engagement, one size does not fit all. For example, patients can span a large age range and come from various social backgrounds. To properly serve them, we need to think about the best way to engage in a way that feels familiar and relevant to who they are.
At CareMetx, we organize this by leveraging software that can segment patients into groups based on the results of the barrier assessment referenced in point one. The assessment result equips us with the knowledge that allows us to thoughtfully adjust content cadences and talking points, so we can ultimately deliver an engagement experience that addresses exactly the topics a given patient needs support with.
It's also important to remember that barriers are often shifting, and they don’t always occur on a predictable timeline. A patient’s personal circumstances—affordability, ability to travel to injection clinics, etc.—can change at any phase of the therapy journey, and these circumstances can impact the journey greatly. By repeating the barrier assessment a few times along the way, we can both assess any changes to a patient’s situation, as well as measure any progress in getting previously mentioned barriers resolved.
4. Leveraging Multi-Channel Technology
Omnichannel engagement (a combination of phone calls, text messages, emails, video calls, chat) provides an effective way for patients to receive messages about their specialty therapy. By reaching patients through a variety of channels rather than just one, we can create a balanced experience, in which messages can reinforce each other. This also helps ensure that a patient’s personal preferences for communication are accounted for. For example, sending an email that explains different strategies on how to get the most from a doctor’s appointment, is an excellent way to follow-up on a phone call, in which a case manager went over those strategies verbally.
If you want to learn more about how you can better engage patients throughout their journey on one of your brands, contact CareMetx today. Let’s discuss how our hub services technology and patient engagement platform can improve your initiation and persistence rates.