Patient expectations for how they access care have evolved. Even as in-person care has returned as a viable and safe option for patients and providers, demand for virtual care has only accelerated. Life sciences companies would be wise to take notice and tailor their access programs accordingly.
In 2022, 80% of patients reported that they had accessed healthcare via telemedicine, up 8% year over year. Additionally, for the first time, telemedicine surpassed in-person visits as the preferred channel for prescription refills.
For life sciences companies, the data is clear - innovative therapies should be evaluating a telemedicine channel strategy to respond to patient expectations and maximize the odds of commercial success, similar to blockbuster programs that are making waves in the commercial innovative space. If you’re not evaluating the potential of this emerging channel, your brand risks under-investing in an optimal patient access experience that could limit your gross-to-net potential.
So, how do you set up a successful, branded telemedicine program? This article outlines 8 essential elements of a digital-first patient experience through telemedicine, and how this channel can accelerate brand outcomes.
What does telemedicine with an end-to-end digital experience look like?
For brand teams determined to integrate telemedicine as a component of their go-to-market strategy, delivering a modern access experience is critical because telemedicine creates “e-commerce-like” expectations. Here’s an overview of what an end-to-end patient experience should look like with an integrated telemedicine program:
Online registration and assessment: The patient begins their journey with the brand's web page – typically after seeing an ad for the product – and then clicks a link to visit a 3rd party site to take an online assessment that includes describing symptoms and providing other relevant personal health and insurance information.
- Appointment scheduling: Patient schedules a virtual appointment with a healthcare provider (HCP) via the telemedicine platform, which should offer various options such as video visits or asynchronous chat visits based on the nature of the condition and state regulations.
Telemedicine consultation: An HCP reviews the digital assessment, discusses symptoms and medical history, and asks follow-up questions to make an accurate diagnosis. If the branded therapy is appropriate for the patient, they discuss the treatment plan, potential side effects, and any additional questions.
E-prescription: The HCP sends a prescription electronically to an integrated partner pharmacy or hub provider. Programs that lack the infrastructure to send prescriptions to a preferred channel and rely exclusively on retail are likely to encounter obstacles with longer delays to therapy and lower adherence.
Digital fulfillment enrollment: The pharmacy or digital hub provider messages the patient to complete digital enrollment and offers any appropriate financial support options.
Benefits verification (BV) and prior authorization (PA): The digital fulfillment partner should automatically perform an eBV to determine initial coverage and initiate an ePA (if required) to share this information with the telemedicine provider for payer submission.
Prescription fulfillment: The patient should have the option to choose whether to have the medication delivered to their home or transferred to a local retail pharmacy. Integrated digital tools ideally should enable delivery tracking, providing estimated arrival times and facilitating communication with the delivery service.
Follow-up and refills: Patients can opt to automatic refills, periodic reminders, schedule follow-up appointments, and sign-up for other support.
How leveraging a seamless telemedicine program can drive brand growth
By integrating a telemedicine program that offers a robust digital experience, pharmaceutical brands can influence brand growth and improve patient outcomes as follows:
1) Accelerate access to therapy
In the traditional, consumer-driven access channel, a prospective patient sees an advertisement for a therapy that treats their condition. The patient calls their doctor to schedule an appointment, likely weeks or even months away – a 2022 survey found that the average wait for a physician appointment is 26 days. During the appointment, the HCP sends a prescription to a local pharmacy, which will do a BV. If a PA is needed, this can add days to weeks until the patient can get their medication. With a digitally enabled DTC channel, the patient will most likely have their telemedicine consult within a day or two and their treatment in hand days later.
2) Meet the needs of modern patients
Telemedicine integrated into an end-to-end digital medication fulfillment platform offers the experience consumers demand – as close to an e-commerce-like, prescription-drug shopping experience as they can get. They save time and hassle by skipping the trip to the doctor’s office. They don’t have to take time off work or find childcare. They can skip waiting in line at a brick-and-mortar pharmacy by taking advantage of the convenience of prescription delivery. They can choose the communication channels they prefer – whether by phone, email, or text – so they aren’t left in the dark about the status of their prescribed therapy.
3) Reach more potential patients
A telemedicine channel can be an effective way to reach patients who may have never learned about the benefits of your branded therapy, such as digital-first consumers and patients with limited access to in-person care or retail pharmacies. Additionally, telemedicine integrated with a national network of pharmacies improves treatment access for those with mobility challenges or who live in rural areas by optimizing affordability and providing covered home delivery of prescriptions.
4) Promote medication adherence
Integrating telemedicine with a digital hub solution that leverages data analytics to identify patients at high risk of nonadherence and employs proactive interventions can significantly improve adherence. Examples include:
- Sending out personalized refill reminders via text messaging
- Providing digital access to educational materials via a user-friendly patient portal
- Facilitating and tracking BVs, PAs, and program enrollments
- Monitoring access data across the prescription access journey
Harness the power of your telemedicine program
Ready to unlock the full potential of your telemedicine program? This case study uncovers how PhilRx helped a women’s health brand achieve 91% patient enrollment and 5x refill adherence by implementing a digitally-driven telemedicine program.
If you’re interested in diving deeper, don’t forget to sign up for our free webinar on August 29, Your Guide to Building an Exceptional Telemedicine Program.