Therapy onboarding optimisation: Why the analytics of patient drop-off requires a closer look

Sales & Marketing

From April 2020 to August 2021, the healthcare solutions company Indegene looked at approximately 7.9 million emails sent by prescription drug companies across 15 different email campaigns. The results, reported in April 2022 by Fierce Pharma, highlighted the need for brands to more carefully manage how they engage with healthcare providers in a post-COVID world, where in-person meetings play second fiddle to the convenience of digital communication.

Of course, this finding should come as no surprise to anyone who has given their email address or phone number over to a digital marketing campaign. No one has ever complained about receiving too few marketing emails or text messages. It is easy to lose interest in a new product or get lost in a maze of hyperlinks. Regrettably, at the cost of our own health, this phenomenon extends to prescription drug regimens as well.

Specialty drugs and smartphones

The growing percentage of specialty drug users engaging with therapy onboarding through their smartphone presents as a convenient solution for remote digital engagement, but can quickly spiral into a challenge. According to IQVIA data, the prescription abandonment rate had reached 17% overall by 2021, and 60% for claims with a monthly out-of-pocket cost of $125 or more ― a cost often associated with specialty drugs. This squandered revenue has led manufacturers to increase their focus on patient onboarding, the main point of drop-off before a patient begins a new drug regimen. 

The smartphone is the medium through which every business tries to engage consumers. The battle for attention is fierce, constantly eroding our bandwidth. Emails are mistakenly sent to spam folders, never to be opened. Text messages can get sent to landlines. Hyperlinks direct patients and providers to the wrong web page. Tracking the many ways this process can go wrong requires a more granular approach than ever before.

The best solution requires specificity

When it comes to specialty drugs, the financial stakes are high. These are typically the most expensive drugs on the market and began to comprise the majority of US manufacturer revenues in 2021, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Simply put, manufacturers can’t afford to lose patients over something so simple as a misplaced call, text, or email. There is no excuse for patient drop-off during the onboarding process.

Understanding precisely where and why drop-off occurs gets tricky in a hurry. Any hypothesis must be scientifically tested. A focus group ― the traditional method by which manufacturers solicit patient feedback ― can identify the general problem, but this is like using the naked eye to look for distant stars instead of a telescope. In 2023, more specificity is required for brands to formulate the best solution. 

Why? The digital touchpoints of therapy onboarding are fragmented among the prescriber, the hub, the pharmacy, Patient Assistance, and copay program administrators. Many opportunities for drop-off exist between patients and these third parties. To understand exactly where and why drop-off occurs, manufacturers require the analytical tools that facilitate a new, necessary process: Therapy Onboarding Optimisation. 

The cost of ignoring Therapy Onboarding Optimisation

These tools, designed by digitally native companies, who literally speak the language of smartphones, come at a cost. But this cost is miniscule compared to the potential lost revenue when Therapy Onboarding Optimisation is ignored. Too often, pharmaceutical brands launch a new specialty drug without these tools ― in effect, starting a business that is designed to fail 27% of the time. 

The failure rate is understandable. Optimising the onboarding process in a post-COVID world is simply not a task legacy drug companies were built to undertake. Now, however, losing patients in the digital maze of onboarding is the primary challenge facing every specialty pharmaceutical manufacturer, and among patients’ biggest obstacles to receiving therapy.

About the author

Yishai KnobelYishai Knobel is the co-founder and CEO of RxWare. Prior to RxWare, Knobel was Head of Mobile at AgaMatrix Diabetes, maker of the world's first smartphone glucometer. He also served in Microsoft’s Start-up Labs in Cambridge and completed eight years of leadership roles in the Israeli Army's elite R&D unit. Knobel earned his MBA from MIT and has a BA in Psychology and Computer Science.