Our thinking

Getting patients started on the right foot

CEO David Ormesher recently participated in PM360’s September Think Tank. Below is the excerpt from his response.

It cannot be overstated how stressful it is when a patient is first diagnosed with a disease. In that moment, physicians may be relaying information patients may not understand or are just too overwhelmed to process. Figuring out what lifestyle adjustments they must make, including changes to their diet or getting more exercise. Starting a new medication and dealing with the ramifications of that, such as getting help affording it, dealing with potential side effects, or just remembering to take it. But pharma companies can help patients prepare for what’s ahead through tools, tech, and other services that offer the information and support patients need to adjust to this change. To learn what is the best approach pharma marketers can take to help new patients, PM360 asked experts to weigh in. Below is Ormesher’s response:

COVID-19 has been an accelerant of changes in the patient experience that have been underway for several years. Medicare claims for telemedicine jumped from 10,000 a week in March to well over a million a week in April. What is new, however, is how patients are reacting, revealing a new segmentation overlay of preferences, needs and expectations.

Even with doctors’ offices reopening in most states, the typical physician’s day is still a patchwork of in-office exams and telehealth calls. Many patients have discovered the ease and convenience of telehealth and for them there is no going back.

Adjusting to new drug starts virtually

The biggest short-term challenge for patients is the virtual start on a new drug. It might start with an in-office physician conversation, but COVID-19–related downsizing has reduced the number of office staff available for patient education, onboarding, or supporting the emotional transition to an infusion center.

Patients receiving new therapy onboarding via telehealth will expect digital patient education, information on services and sample coupons. Short disease and MOA explainer videos, how-to videos and links to online patient support groups will become essential elements for supporting the patient journey.

A growing number of start-up health tech companies are introducing innovations such as remote monitoring and digital therapeutics to enhance physician and patient connections. Those in pharma who are collaborating with these companies are able to create new and more engaging patient experiences.

A version of this article appeared in the September 2020 issue of PM360.

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