5 Major Pitfalls to Avoid

in Patient Adherence Programs

“In my 26 years in business collaborating with pharmaceutical companies in the development of evidence-based patient adherence, patient education materials and DTC programs, I have seen product managers repeatedly fail because they didn’t understand the needs of patients.”


Dr. Dorothy L. Smith, President and CEO Consumer Health Information Corporation


The Key to Recovering Lost Sales

When your patients drop out of therapy, they are making decisions that are decreasing your product sales. Our experience shows that this can often be avoided by ensuring that patients are receiving needed information throughout each phase of the treatment cycle. This includes knowing how to identify all the barriers your patients are going to face … and developing programs that provide information they can understand and motivates them to stay in therapy. Here are 5 common pitfalls, and tips on how to avoid them:


Pitfall #1
Focusing marketing efforts on initial prescription sales and missing key communication opportunities throughout the entire treatment cycle of a patient using your product


If you do not identify these barriers before launching your product, patients will stop taking your product and your sales will drop.


Tip: A product will never reach its full sales potential if product managers direct their marketing efforts towards initial prescription sales and overlook refill prescription sales. Lost prescription sales due to patients dropping out of therapy in the first few months of treatment are staggering. Patients need useful and practical patient information to get them off to an easy start with your product … and then educational materials that will help them stay in therapy and get the most benefit from the medication.

How We Can Help: Consumer Health Information Corporation has 26 years’ experience in helping product managers recoup lost sales due to patient dropouts. Our team of health professionals and experts in patient adherence know how to design patient education programs that work! Your patients will understand the information and your patients will be motivated to refill their prescriptions. Your physicians will also be motivated to prescribe your product because of the patient counseling tools your program will offer. This leads to increasing your Return on Investment (ROI) and getting it closer to its full potential.


Pitfall #2
Not identifying or fully addressing all the potential patient adherence barriers that patients are going to face with your product.


Not identifying or fully addressing all the potential patient adherence barriers that patients are going to face with your product.


Tip: Patient adherence is a very complicated process but many patient barriers can be predicted in advance of launching a product. The key to success is to develop a patient adherence strategy at the outset (preferably even in Phase III). This strategy must be integrated into the marketing plan so that your patient education and DTC programs address all the patient, disease-specific and drug-specific barriers your product will encounter in the market.

How We Can Help: Consumer Health Information Corporation is recognized internationally for its expertise in patient compliance and patient adherence strategies. Our team has access to the world’s research in this area and develops customized evidence-based patient adherence strategies. All the barriers your patient population will encounter are identified ranging from the drug, the disease, patient population and healthcare professionals. The techniques to overcome these barriers are also based on sound research and 25 years of experience of counseling patients in real-life about how to take their medications safely and wisely.


Pitfall #3
Thinking that if your patient content is written at the Grade 6 to 8 readability level, patients and consumers will understand it. Patient comprehension is far more important.


Yes, readability is certainly important, but it’s not the only criterion. Many product managers believe that if your patient content is written at the Grade 6 to 8 readability level, patients and consumers will understand it.
The readability level does not ensure patient comprehension.


Tip: While it is true that patients need medical terminology translated to the Grade 6 to 8 level, patient comprehension is even more important. Just because a phrase such as “red meat” tests at the Grade 4 readability level, it doesn’t mean that patients will understand it. For example, when patients were given instructions to avoid eating “red meat”, the majority thought this meant to avoid eating “raw meat” but that it was OK to eat “cooked meat.”

It is critical that patients be able to “understand” your instructions in order to take the drug correctly as well as to prevent medication errors. Patient comprehension can not only improve your ROI … but also help prevent lawsuits and protect your brand.

How We Can Help: Consumer Health Information Corporation has been a leader in the world in translating medical terminology into patient information language patients and consumers can fully understand. Our team has been applauded by market research teams because of the tremendous success our patient education materials and DTC collateral materials have had during testing. In several cases, only one or two changes were all that were required! Our team has helped product teams get Patient Package Inserts (PPIs) approved by FDA months earlier than expected … leading to earlier product launches. This is because we know what we are doing! You don’t need to take time to educate us on a drug or disease. We hold doctorate degrees in pharmacy and can start working on a project on Day One.


Pitfall #4
Giving patients the SAME patient information at every doctor, pharmacy or clinic visit and assuming that patients will find this information useful.


Too often patients throw away the medication instructions or patient information pamphlets as soon as they leave the physician’s office or pharmacy. Wouldn’t you do the same if you received the same piece of information at every visit?
Not only are you wasting your $$ to print these patient information materials over and over again but you are not motivating patients to stay in therapy and be loyal to your brand.


Tip: Patients need basic disease and drug information when starting on a therapy. After that, they need practical and motivational materials that will show them how to track their progress and see that the drug is helping them. This information must be given to patients at the right time and it has to be different at each major stage of treatment.

Research has shown that, if you can motivate a patient to stay in therapy and take the medication correctly for 1 year, then that patient has learned how to successfully incorporate the medication into his/her lifestyle and will continue to be compliant.

Patients also need to be convinced that the drug is helping them. If they are not taught how to recognize their personal progress, they will most likely drop out of therapy.

How We Can Help: Consumer Health Information Corporation has expertise in integrating behavior modification into the patient education material. We can help you motivate the patient at critical times during the therapy when they are most likely to drop out of therapy. You can be assured that your patients will receive the patient information they need at each stage of treatment.


Pitfall #5
Not maximizing the opportunities your sales reps have with physicians.


Doctor and patient shaking hands
Are your sales reps delivering value by giving physicians time-saving and practical patient counseling tools?Are physicians calling your sales reps and asking them to come to their office requesting a supply of more of your patient information materials?


Tip: Physicians will be more likely to meet with your sales reps if the reps can offer practical and time-saving patient counseling tools for your product.

Physicians will even call and request your sales rep to return to their clinics when they run out of the patient counseling tools. Not only does this help open the doors for your sales reps to gain access to physicians but your patients will be counseled more effectively by health professionals.

How We Can Help: Consumer Health Information Corporation has worked with product teams on blockbuster drugs and has developed patient counseling tools for sales reps to distribute to physicians and other health care professionals. These tools have been accepted with such success that physicians started requesting sales reps to come back to the clinic and bring more of these materials.

The reason our patient education tools for health care professionals are useful is because our team has worked in a variety of clinical settings as members of the medical team. We know the barriers that pharmacists and physicians face and know how to develop patient information materials that will save time and enable the health care professional to counsel patients effectively. This is important to physicians and pharmacists because they are trying to motivate patients to stay in therapy as well and return appointments and refill prescriptions are important to the success of their patient care as well as their bottom line.


Let Us Help You Develop Patient Education Programs That Increase ROI.

26 years of experience getting the right information to the patient at the right time.

Patient education programs work if they meet the needs of patients and health care professionals.

We want to help you succeed in realizing the maximum untapped revenue of your product.

Since 1983 Consumer Health Information Corporation has specialized in the development

of FDA-approved patient labeling and innovative evidence-based patient education and REMS programs.

Our customized programs have made it possible for product teams

to increase product sales as well as meet the needs of patients, physicians,

pharmacists, consumers … and sales reps.

Consumer Health Information Corporation

8000 Westpark Drive, Suite 120

McLean, VA 22120