When Clients and their agencies think about developing patient support programs, they are often driven by images of happy, smiling, adherent patients who credit their company or Brand for providing a hassle-free treatment experience. However, in doing research in this area, we have learned that creating a positive patient experience isn’t about creating ‘delightful’ moments as much as we may want it to be.
In a recent research study, I encountered a high prescribing Oncologist who would provide me with the genesis for this blog post. When asked about her expectations of a best in class support program, she replied, “The best patient support programs are invisible.”
It struck me how this simple sentence encapsulated our findings from more than a year’s worth of market research with launch brands seeking to streamline patient access. What the Oncologist articulated so succinctly is that fact that there are no positive feedback loops, only negative, when it comes to patient access.
You, the manufacturer, rarely get credit for the 100 prescriptions that the physician writes that get successfully adjudicated, but the 10 prescriptions that get hung up for one reason or another not only stay with the provider, but often shape the perception of the manufacturer’s program. It’s actually the lack of negative feedback to the MD coming from the office staff, managed care company, and/or patients that ‘delights’ the physician and result in more prescriptions. See, the best programs are invisible to the physician.
What does this physician’s insight mean to today’s marketer? Instead of spending an inordinate amount of time of coming up with various ways of adding value or delighting your physician customer base, first start by taking away the pain points in the system that feed the negative feedback loop in the first place. If you think about it, the potential value of this approach to physicians isn’t surprising, considering they are all taught that one of the principle precepts of medical ethics is to ‘first do not harm’.
Shouldn’t your patient support program follow suit?