Why Isn’t My Patient Education Program Working?


I received a call last week from a product manager who was concerned that he had spent so much money on patient compliance programs but they hadn’t improved his ROI.

He was fed up because he had spent a lot of his budget to develop a series of pamphlets to support his DTC ad and for health professionals to use in their practice. The materials looked “attractive” and he had a tremendous printing bill … but the content had not increased patient compliance … and his ROI was flat…

He felt he had absolutely wasted his money and even worse lost the launch opportunity to establish brand loyalty for his product. Despite this, he still believes that patient education should increase his sales, but that he just had a “poor” program. He does not want to spend any more money on design and printing until he can figure out how to make these materials work. He asked, “How can I increase patient compliance so my sales go up?”

I really felt sorry for him because he had tried to go in the right direction. The dollars he spent on patient education should have significantly increased his sales.

Product managers like the one who called me are losing 10-20% of all initial prescription sales because people decide not to fill them. In addition, at least 50% of the people who do get the prescription filled do not take it correctly. This means the drug cannot be maximally effective. MDs do not see the full clinical response…and may decide to switch the patient to another medication. Even worse, about 30% of patients (and frequently more) do not get their refills. They quit because they decide the side effects are too annoying, the drug is not working, or they forget to get their refill.

With a chronic medication, the impact of these patient decisions on a product’s ROI can be staggering. That is why it’s critical to develop programs that will help prevent patient drop-out and increase retention. A patient education program must be integrated into every place during the drug therapy where a patient makes a decision whether or not to take the drug.

Source: Consumer Health Information Corporation Patient Education Update Vol. 3 No. 10