Lack of patient compliance is not a new problem for the pharmaceutical industry. Every year, unused or unwanted drugs are returned to pharmacies by patients and this is estimated to cost the NHS more than £100million.
Reasons for failure to comply range from misunderstanding their condition to mistrust in the product. Tablets can prove difficult to take or unpalatable. Some people find treatments too expensive or, given the current climate, too difficult to obtain. The potential barriers are plentiful, especially in a world that is now blighted by missed appointments and opportunities.
The real cost of non-compliance
Between 33-50% of patients in England don’t use medicines prescribed for long-term conditions as recommended. Furthermore, it’s estimated 50-60% of patients with chronic illnesses miss tablets, take the wrong dose, or drop off treatment in the first year.
It goes without saying that these patients have poorer outcomes. This isn’t just bad news for their health, it also impacts an already overstretched and under-resourced NHS through increased hospital readmissions and more rapid disease progression, leading to more expensive treatments.
Properly taken, a prescribed medicine represents an easy way for a pharma brand to make money. The product is already on formulary, there are no clinical or regulatory risks, and the script has been written making marketing costs minimal. But, without a proper patient adherence plan, non-compliance means slimmer margins for pharma companies and can cost manufacturers millions in lost revenue.
How can pharma brands overcome it?
In the past, pharma has been guilty of putting the payer, or prescriber, before the patient. Now, some of the world’s top healthcare brands are realising the power of putting the patient first and the importance of offering support to improve compliance.
Healthcare companies that go beyond the pill to offer added value are much more likely to engage customers long term. New products also have more chance of getting on formulary and being prescribed by clinicians if they come with built-in support.
Being able to track their dosage or vital health statistics via a mobile app, receive reminders by SMS and get in-depth information on managing their condition through literature or via online support groups, websites and training programmes, helps patients take control and connect with healthcare brands.
Empowering pharmacists is another way for healthcare companies to encourage people to use their products. Providing resource packs and training materials gives pharmacists confidence to not only prescribe, but advise, patients on products throughout the lifetime of their treatment.
How the right marketing strategy can improve compliance
A healthcare marketing agency can help pharma take advantage of new technology and data science to present new ways to understand and gather feedback from patients.
Shifting the focus of consumer marketing from getting a prescription, to actually taking the medication as prescribed, is key to changing consumer behaviour. This means providing relevant information at every stage of the patient’s journey, starting with researching symptoms through to managing their condition.
User-friendly opportunities to self-care, such as online learning programmes or monitoring apps can all play a role in supporting compliance. Custom-built solutions combined with flagship products help brands to become part of a patient’s everyday life, rather than just a short-term solution.
The rise of data-driven marketing also means pharmaceutical companies can track consumer behaviour to personalise advertisements, special offers and promotions at times when compliance might traditionally start to drop off.
All is not lost in the battle against non-compliance. Big pharma just needs to focus on the little things people value most – understanding, advice and ongoing support. We’ve helped many healthcare clients to build value propositions into their marketing which has improved brand loyalty, retention and ultimately, sales. If you’d like to have a chat about how we could help, give us a call.
About The Foundry
The Foundry is a strategic communications agency, based in Manchester, delivering fully-integrated marketing campaigns for B2B, B2C, public sector and healthcare clients. Compliance marketing services include qualitative and quantitative research, branding and packaging design, social media campaigns, educational websites, CPD programmes, online learning tools, in-clinic training materials, posters and patient literature.
For more information, call 0161 926 8444.