What can digital technologies help us solve?

When you think about one of the largest problems within the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry, medication adherence should come to mind. For every 100 scripts written, only 15 to 20 are refilled as prescribed. Now consider the quality of life impact this has for patients who are not continuing to take their medication as prescribed. The issue of adherence presents us with a clear opportunity in patient journeys for continued care via digital technologies. Digital technologies can help us track, monitor and engage with patients to increase their likelihood to stay on treatment.

Can you increase adherence for a population of older adults with digital technology?

Ask most marketers if you can digitally reach a target age demographic of 65+ US adults and you’ll commonly hear, “they’re not really online” or “you can’t reach them via mobile”. However, at Digital Pharma East this week we saw case studies in action that prove the contrary. 

If you heard, “on average our patients are spending up to 50 minutes a week on our site” - what age demographic would come to mind? If your guess was a younger audience, you would be wrong. In a case study about Boehringer Ingelheim’s (BI) RespiPoints program, a branded online experience to increase adherence for COPD patients, the average user was 71 years old.

How did they get older adults to log on and stay on?

By partnering with HealthPrize Technologies, BI’s COPD patients in the RespiPoints program are rewarded for verifying prescriptions, reporting compliance and engaging with positive educational experiences like quizzes, surveys and videos. On average, COPD patients spent 50 minutes on site per month, and that time was split between 60% mobile and 40% desktop. This tells us that not only are older patients online; they are willing to engage with content that helps them stay on treatment. 

Did online behavior translate to offline results? 

The 9-month program led to an increase of 2.8 incremental fills for all participants with a verified prescription of the product, representing an adherence lift of 3.7 additional refills over a 12-month period. This is a successful example of how digital technology helped increase patient adherence by providing the right digital tools and online experiences for COPD patients to not only remember medication refills, but to continue to learn tips to manage their condition. 

When developing digital programs for adherence:

  • Keep gamification techniques in mind to create program interest
  • Provide small incentives to increase the likelihood that users will return to the site and continue with the program

Don’t let pre-conceived notions of “who spends more time online” hold you back from developing a custom adherence program

About the Author:

Christine leads the Digital & Social Strategy team for Syneos Health’s west coast office in Los Angeles. She develops digital communications strategies for a diverse portfolio of pharmaceutical and healthcare clients across a range of therapeutic areas. Christine combines pharmaceutical industry knowledge with campaign development, product launch, and social media expertise to elevate company and brand stories.