When patients skip their medications and follow-up appointments, it can cost the healthcare industry billions, and result in an estimated 125,000 unnecessary deaths. The personal and economic costs are enormous, however, could be prevented with a modern approach to treatment adherence.
By focusing on providing patients with the support they need to comply with their treatment throughout the patient journey, the healthcare industry could make a significant impact on treatment adherence, improving patient outcomes all while increasing brand loyalty and market share. After all, the success of treatment and the patients’ well-being is closely linked to adherence.
But what can healthcare marketers do to support patients in moments of need and grow brand loyalty at the same time?
It starts with engaging your audience, sending them the right message, at the right time. To do that marketers must deviate from the traditional approaches to adherence and borrow efforts from other industries in order to assist healthcare professionals and patients alike, on their treatment journey.
What can contribute non-adherence?
In healthcare, adherence often refers to how thoroughly the patient follows medical advice. It can be as simple as how often they fill out their prescriptions for drugs, or more complicated like attending therapy sessions, and to what degree they follow self-care recommendations.
A staggering 50% of patients stop taking their medications after the first year, and 30% of prescriptions are never filled. Non-adherence costs the healthcare industry an estimated $637 billion a year, not to mention the negative effect it has on the patients’ health outcomes and lives.
It doesn’t matter how effective the drug is, if the patient doesn’t follow the treatment plan and fill their prescription – they won’t get better, and the developers of the drug won’t be able to test its true effectiveness. Advising patients about the consequences of deviating from their treatment plans, or scheduling follow-up appointments, are no longer effective ways to ensure patients adhere to their treatment plans.
Why you need an adherence programme
In order to have a positive impact on patient adherence and ultimately health outcomes, pharmaceutical companies need to address the many barriers different patients face in their care with adherence-driven marketing. At Epsilon, we have identified that these barriers are multi-dimensional and vary by patient (personality, context, habits etc.), condition, and stage of therapy.
A robust adherence programme can help pharmaceutical companies provide the support patients need to comply with their treatments. Although many organisations provide some level of support, it’s rare that the programme is omnichannel and encompasses the social, emotional, and physical issues patients face when it comes to their care.
The World Health Organization found that “medication-adherence is the result of multiple interrelated factors, including social and economic issues, fears about side-effects, the quality of a patient’s healthcare team and support system, the characteristics of the disease, and their willingness to accept the diagnosis”.
To really improve adherence, healthcare marketers should craft an adherence programme that adapts to the changing needs of the patient, and when possible, should anticipate when those needs may change or arise.
By employing tools, such as CRM, healthcare marketers can uncover opportunities to reshape behaviours and deliver personalised interventions to individual patients, to help them overcome barriers they face with their treatment plans.
Importance of adherence to driving brand loyalty
Unless pharmaceutical companies seek to truly understand and address the barriers patients face when it comes to adherence to their treatment, they are ignoring a large pool of customers that could, with a little extra support, become loyal customers.
Patients are not loyal to brands, they are loyal to experiences. Brands that are proactive in providing support, and focus on the individual needs of their patients, generate much higher engagement, brand loyalty, and thus higher return.
Studies have found that patients who received higher levels of personalised support, showed much higher levels of long-term-adherence. In a 12 month period, the levels of adherence jumped from 30% to 85%, thanks to access to a dedicated healthcare expert that helped patients address barriers they face with filling prescriptions, therapy, and dealing with their diagnosis.
In order to move forward, the industry must begin integrating adherence-driven marketing into their customer engagement plans. By focusing on delivering value aligned with individual patient and HCP needs, healthcare marketers can inspire brand loyalty, improve overall patients outcomes, and increase revenue.
To find out how to bring HCP’s and their patients one step closer to treatment adherence, read our instructional guide on how to map out your users’ journey here.