The explosion of virtual healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic fueled the rise of digital direct-to-consumer (DTC) channels in the life sciences industry. The realization that it’s possible for patients to have a compliant, clinical conversation to receive a prescription via a telemedicine platform linked to a brand’s website can be a game-changer.
A well-executed DTC model provides a more responsive option for patients to meet them where they are in 2023 - online and on their phone. Commercial teams integrating a telemedicine offering into their go-to-market strategy would be wise to prioritize curating seamless, end-to-end user experiences that consumers experience in other more digitally transformed industries. Patients seeking medications via telemedicine expect the entire process to be convenient, transparent, and affordable. A fragmented telemedicine model that requires patients to pick up prescriptions at their local pharmacy or prevents them from applying their insurance benefits can dilute the patient experience and negatively impact gross-to-net.
For brand teams that have determined telemedicine should be a part of their go-to-market strategy, delivering a modern user experience across the access journey is essential.
Here’s an overview of what an end-to-end patient journey would look like using telemedicine integrated with digital tools to access a branded prescription medication:
Online registration and assessment: The patient registers on the brand’s web page – typically after seeing an ad for the product – and takes 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 may offer different options such as video conferencing or a chat based engagement based on the nature of their 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 during the virtual visit. If the branded therapy is appropriate for the patient, they discuss the treatment plan, potential side effects, and additional questions.
E-Prescription: The HCP sends a prescription electronically to a partnered pharmacy or hub provider via an integrated patient services platform. Programs that lack the infrastructure to send prescriptions to a preferred channel and rely exclusively in retail are likely to encounter obstacles.
Patient services enrollment: The patient services platform messages the patient to complete digital enrollment and offers any appropriate financial support options.
Benefits verification (BV) and prior authorization (PA): If required, the patient services platform 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: Patient applies a manufacturer’s copay or benefits from a cash and offer if they don’t have coverage at checkout. The patient should 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.
Check out this case study to see how PhilRx helped a women’s health brand achieve significant growth by implementing a digitally powered telemedicine channel strategy.
By integrating your DTC channel with a comprehensive digital experience, your life science brand can respond to evolving consumer behavior to drive brand growth and realize a greater return on your DTC investment in the following ways:
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, which will likely be 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 prescribed treatment in hand two days later.
Telemedicine integrated into an end-to-end digital medication fulfillment platform offers the experience consumers want and expect – as close to an e-commerce-like, prescription-drug shopping experience as they can get. They save time and gas 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.
A DTC 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.
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 to your branded therapy. 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
Phil offers a digital, end-to-end telemedicine and product fulfillment infrastructure that delivers a modern patient access experience while enabling brands to maximize prescription coverage – ultimately driving brand growth. Get in touch today to discover how partnering with Phil can help you successfully implement a DTC strategy.
Our consultants will work with you to analyze your current channel strategy and make recommendations for how to improve patient access and increase the percentage of scripts getting covered by insurance.