Enhancing Patient Engagement With Timely and Effective Digital Outreach Programs

The first part of a series outlining 5 crucial steps so pharmacies can enhance patient engagement and lower operational costs.

Successfully delivering medications to patients on time is essential and often critical to optimal outcomes. Even the slightest delay in delivering medications can interrupt patient therapy schedules and negatively impact lives.

Gone are the days when the pharmacist’s role ended with the handover of delivery and communication responsibilities to third parties, such as USPS, FedEx or UPS. Patients typically contact their specialty pharmacies for their delivery information and updates.

For pharmacies, this added accountability potentially means additional stress on customer service resources, increased telephone hold times, and can lead to frustration and a negative patient engagement experience.

In our new series, Examining the Specialty Pharmacy-Patient Communication Spectrum and How Personalized Patient Communications Will Provide Better Patient Engagement, we will examine each of 5 crucial steps so pharmacies can enhance patient engagement and lower operational costs.

Step 1. Reach your patients the way they want to be contacted while lowering cost

The Need for a Digital Engagement Solution

Patient communication is an essential component of any specialty pharmacy and a significant driver of better patient engagement and customer satisfaction. The traditional outbound telephone call to patients is limiting. When pharmacies leverage digital programs, such as email, text and phone, it improves their ability to connect with patients consistently.

Consider the facts around today’s digital-savvy consumer:

  • 85% of Americans now own a smartphone, according to Pew Research Center, yet today’s consumers are ignoring more phone calls than they’re accepting. And 75% of millennials would rather text than talk.
  • More than half of customers would rather contact companies via digital media, such as email or social media, rather than use voice-based customer support.

The key to better patient outcomes and increased patient revenue is better patient engagement. When patients are more engaged, they are more likely to purchase and keep their current pharmacy, creating a win-win for patients and the pharmacy.

Consider the benefits to your pharmacy:

  • Increase patient acquisition, engagement, satisfaction, and retention.
  • Grow pharmacy revenue faster.
  • Improve patient outcomes.
  • Lower your operational costs due to increased digital activity.
  • Boost employee satisfaction and productivity.

A pharmacy’s ability to leverage multiple communication channels to best support today’s digital consumer is critical to improving patient engagement.

Today’s health care consumers want to interact through familiar and preferred channels and increasingly use self-service tools to act at their convenience. You want to make it easy for them to connect and manage their healthcare needs with digital capabilities. We start by understanding the patient journey every step of the way.

How to accelerate digital patient engagement

When choosing a digital patient engagement solution, it’s essential to understand what is best for your pharmacy and your patients. Look for key these features and functionalities:

  • Secure mobile text messaging allows patients and pharmacies to engage in encrypted two-way electronic communications.
  • Patient education resources are increasingly delivered online through patient engagement solutions. Pharmacies can pre-select messaging for specific patients or conditions, and the system makes it available to your patients.
  • Email marketing features are included in many patient engagement systems so you can nurture the patient-pharmacy relationship and disseminate practice news or patient education resources.
  • Dashboard and analytics provide intuitive reporting that can inform you on which patient has been reached, who needs following up, did you capture the required patient information.

In how many situations will the solution engage your patients?

  • refill reminders and captures
  • product recalls
  • overdue bill reminders
  • new patient onboarding calls
  • preferred pharmacy and provider reminders
  • annual plan engagement calls
  • shipping notifications
  • delivery confirmation

Look for a solution that allows you to build customized prompts to suit any communication based on your patients’ preferences.

Conclusion

Whether it's securing a refill, checking on a past-due balance, or swiftly responding to a drug recall, choosing the right digital patient engagement solution that is built for today's patient-engagement requirements will help you can reach your patients the way they want to be contacted—at a fraction of the cost.

Up Next

In the second article of the series, Examining the Specialty Pharmacy-Patient Communication Spectrum, we will discuss the importance of predicting delivery times and carrier-specific delays before Rx dispensing.

About the Author

Sebastian Pistritto is vice president of marketing for ParcelShield, a firm that provides predictive analytics and support services that reduce the risk for shippers and improve patient or end-user satisfaction. Focused on specialty pharmacies, pharma manufacturers, mail-order pharmacies, and non-pharmacy high-value businesses, ParcelShield has artificial intelligence and machine learning predictive models that provide real-time, carrier-agnostic, deliverability risk-insight to prevent package distress before it happens.