In a recent poll in Drug Store News, readers were asked: “What area do you think will see the greatest advancement in the expansion of healthcare services in community pharmacy in 2016?” Behavioral coaching was among the top responses. This is not a surprise given that improving medication adherence is a key driver of healthcare reform and the quality of patient care is rapidly becoming a primary metric for how healthcare providers are evaluated.

Manufacturers are increasingly turning to behavioral coaching programs to drive adherence to prescribed medications and to help improve patients' health outcomes. The programs are typically run by centralized contact centers staffed by personnel specially trained in behavioral coaching techniques.

What Brands Should Look For in a Behavioral Coaching Program

Quote Driving Primary Medication AdherenceAdherence barriers change over time, as do patients' information and education needs. As a result, McKesson Patient Relationship Solutions has developed comprehensive acquisition, adherence and behavioral support programs that truly focus on the patient experience. Our approach enables delivery of personalized support for patients – throughout their brand journey – with proven and sustainable patient engagement tactics for brands to improve adherence and patient care in support of healthier outcomes.

In previous blog posts and commentaries, my colleagues and I described how contact centers work with patients to remove barriers that prevent them from getting prescriptions filled and coach them on lifestyle and behavior changes that will help them manage their medical conditions.

In this post, I'd like to share three areas of improvement drug brands should consider to better enable their behavioral coaching programs and make them as effective as possible.

Improving Primary Medication Adherence

The first is identifying the specific result the brand wants to achieve prior to launching a behavioral coaching program. Deciding what you want to know, or what you want patients to do, after the program is launched is too late. For most brands we work with, improving patients' primary adherence rate is the goal. That means getting that first new prescription filled, and starting patients on that newly prescribed medication. If patients don't start, the chances they may never start increase. If patients do start, the chances they'll stay on their medication increase. Consequently, the focus of behavioral coaching becomes understanding and removing the barriers to filling that first prescription.

Aligning Professional and Consumer Strategies

The second area of improvement involves ensuring the use of behavioral coaching is aligned and integrated—across the brand's professional and consumer strategies. Prescribers are often in the best position to know which patients are at greatest risk for primary non-adherence.

If they understand their value, prescribers also have a unique opportunity to reinforce brand messaging and more effectively guide patients to support services. The best case scenario is one where prescribers see the medication and patient support services as components to one, complete therapy.

Collecting Patient Insights

The third area of improvement is leveraging live conversations to provide data and insights on the patient populations who use the brands' pharmaceutical products. Conversations that contact center personnel have with patients during behavioral coaching sessions are rich with valuable information. Information that can be used to optimize the support available to patients, as well as give brands the ability to improve their products and services.

For example, why would a patient enroll to receive co-pay support but never use the card? Is it because they didn't use the card or they didn't fill the prescription? Our patient support representatives reach out to uncover challenges that a patient might be facing, and then help to answer questions related to the medicine, whether they are behavioral in nature (i.e., didn't believe that the medicine was important to fill, or had medication concerns), or cost (i.e., sharing information about the co-pay card program benefits.) After a live conversation, an average of 20% of patients fill their prescription.

We are able to collect patient data through our calls to better understand how to help meet patient needs, and what other components to put into place in the future. We also often ask how likely patients are to fill their prescription. If a patient responds, “not likely”, we dig deeper to better understand why and try to provide a solution.

Defining success upfront, aligning the use of behavioral coaching across professional and consumer strategies, and leveraging live conversations to provide actionable insights from patients are three ways drug brands can maximize their return on investment in contact centers and behavioral coaching services designed to drive medication adherence by their customers.

Related: Learn about McKesson's behavioral coaching solutions 

Amanda Rhodes

About the author

Amanda Rhodes is an experienced campaign strategist who applies proven behavioral coaching techniques to shape efficient and effective contact center and pharmacy-based patient communications. As the Director of Client Strategy and Solutions for McKesson Patient Relationship Solutions, she believes in meeting patient needs to exceed client business objectives. With nearly thirteen years of experience in pharmaceutical marketing and more than fifteen therapeutic categories including Hepatitis C, HIV, diabetes, asthma, allergies, cardiovascular, and oncology she leverages her experience to collaborate with clients and agency partners to deliver effective campaigns.