Rx Cost Series: Understanding the Many Paths to Adherence


In the next installment of our Rx Cost Series, we go back to basics: understanding the various ways people learn about treatments and get their prescriptions. 

[Read Part 1 and Part 2 of our Rx Cost Series]

To meet consumers’ needs, pharma marketers need to understand all the potential paths that real people might take to pick up a prescription. Just as there are no linear health journeys and no two health experiences are exactly the same, there is no one path to getting medication in a patient’s hands.

Are you someone who asks questions first? Are you someone who immediately looks at prices? Are you someone who trusts your doctor wholeheartedly?

You may have one mindset, or you may shift between different approaches. As marketers, and as people, it’s important that we never lose sight of this. When we understand the varied ways consumers think and act, and the factors that can impact their adherence, we can better align with their needs. 

Below, we’ve used real research insights to put together fictional stories, illustrating how people might learn about treatments, think about costs, and decide what actions to take for their health. 

Loyal to Her Pharmacy 

“I’m so busy, I don’t have time to shop around. I go to the pharmacy I know.” 

Imagine a 35-year-old woman living with type 2 diabetes who strongly prefers her convenient, local pharmacy. When she has questions about her medication, she considers her pharmacist one of her top sources of information, as do 38% of health website users. 

When prescription costs are high, she asks her pharmacist if there is a less expensive or generic option, as do two in five users. But she won’t shop around at other pharmacies for a better price — most of the time, she will go ahead and pay for the prescription.

Pharma Marketers: Pharmacies are more than an endpoint of health journeys. For some consumers, they are central to their health experience, highlighting the value of both trust and convenience. 

Asks His Doctor First

“I trust my doctors, so I discuss all my treatment plans and questions with them.”

Imagine a 60-year-old man living with heart disease and high cholesterol. When he has questions about his drug regimen, he goes to his doctor, like 43% of health site users. He sometimes goes online to learn more about his HCP’s treatment recommendations, but he then likes to discuss what he reads online with his HCP — usually within a week, like a quarter of users.

Pharma Marketers: HCPs can be a cornerstone in a patient's decision-making process. It’s important to educate both patients and HCPs about conditions, treatments, and cost-saving options, ensuring patients get consistent and beneficial information from all touchpoints. 

Most Concerned About Costs

“I research drug options and prices before I visit my doctor. If I can’t afford it, I won’t get it.” 

Imagine a 26-year-old man living with multiple conditions, including IBS and depression. He is low-income and considers costs at every step in his health journey. Like three in five health site users, he has at times experienced prescription costs he couldn’t afford.

He often uses keywords related to costs in his search, and like many consumers, he prefers to use price comparison charts. Like 45% of users, if the cost of a drug is just too high, he has in the past decided not to fill the prescription. But he doesn’t currently use an Rx savings card — he’s not sure if he qualifies or how to start using it. 

Pharma Marketers: To reach cost-conscious consumers, educate and simplify access to cost-savings as early in the process as possible, so that they feel confident to continue on their journey forward to fill the prescription.

Proactive Patient and Caretaker

“I want to make sure we are getting the best care, and the best prices, that we can.” 

Imagine a 55-year-old woman living with rheumatoid arthritis, who also manages her husband’s medications and her aging parent’s prescriptions. She embraces her role as family caretaker and decision-maker, and she always researches medications to prepare for doctor’s appointments. While 56% of health site users visit only one website when researching Rx medications, she is in the 14% of people who will visit a couple more sites to learn more. 

Like 23% of users, when drug costs are too high, she checks for a better price at a different pharmacy. To avoid that hassle, she recently signed up for an Rx savings program. Like two of three people who use these programs, she is highly satisfied and plans to continue. 

Pharma Marketers: Some consumers are keen to explore multiple resources for the best care and pricing. Consider omnichannel outreach and messaging to cater to these motivated consumers and give them confidence in the right path forward.

Tailoring Pharma Marketing to Consumer Needs

Your goal might be to get people on treatments or promote your savings solution, but you can’t do that without understanding the diverse mindsets of your consumers. A one-size-fits-all approach will fall short. 

That’s why Healthline Media has built out holistic drug education resources that cater to consumers’ many paths and priorities, as well as data capabilities to find, segment, and target nuanced audience personas. These resources make it possible to emphasize relevant cost-saving opportunities early in the research process. More people can get the answers they need and learn about drug discounts — while brands can show up and make an impact with the consumers who could benefit most. 

To learn how Healthline Media’s cost-saving program for prescription drugs could work for your brand, reach out to your sales representative, or contact us here.

38%, two in five (among those on 1+ Rx med & high OOP costs), 43%, quarter (among those currently/previously on Rx), three in five (among those on 1+ Rx med), 45% (among those on 1+ Rx med & high OOP costs), 55% (among those researching Rx med), 14% (among those researching Rx med), 23% (among those on 1+ Rx med), two of three  (among those who use Rx discount card/service at least 25% of the time): Healthline Media Consumer Drug Information Pages Visitors survey. Survey of 868 respondents. Feb-May 2022

All quotes are fictionalized. 

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