How are patients’ perceptions about drug copays, pharmaceutical industry, and digitalization of healthcare evolving during COVID-19 pandemic?

  • Amit Patel
  • Sharavanan Ramakrishnan
  • Priyanka Shanbhag

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a shift in the patient care model from the physician’s office to the patient’s home. This change has been aided by the digitalization of healthcare services. Whether or not this move towards the digitalization of healthcare will continue post-pandemic is an interesting question to consider, along with if this shift has also resulted in higher patient out-of-pocket costs and coupon use for chronic medications.

To better understand the pandemic’s impact on patients’ out-of-pocket costs for chronic conditions and their experience with telemedicine and digital pharmacy, MME conducted an online survey with 60 patients and 20 caregivers. Respondents included prostate cancer, breast cancer, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, diabetes patients and caregivers providing care for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Our survey found:

  • Patients across various disease categories reported an increase in their monthly out-of-pocket costs for branded prescription drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The average increase reported across diseases was $28 per month; with highest increases for hyperlipidemia ($45 per month) and lowest for prostate cancer ($10 per month).
  • 32% of the study sample also reported seeking more manufacturer-provided coupons to help reduce prescription copay/out-of-pocket costs during the pandemic.
  • Telemedicine use increased by almost two times during the pandemic but the frequency of use remained the same compared to pre-pandemic times.
  • The number of patients using digital platforms for purchasing Rx medications only slightly increased (17%) during the pandemic,  but 58% of patients reported an increase in frequency of platform usage. 
  • Overall, respondents were satisfied with telemedicine and digital pharmacies and expect their use of these services to increase in the next 12 months.
  • 27% of patients reported that their value perceptions of biotech and pharma improved during the pandemic. For 12% of patients, perceptions declined, and for the remainder of patients, perceptions did not change.

As healthcare evolves, innovative channels of providing care such as telemedicine and digital pharmacies will continue to evolve. COVID-19 has forced patients to embark on a more digital route to receive care and medications, with greater emphasis on lowering costs and using coupons.

Please contact us today if you would like to discuss these results in greater detail or to analyze the benefits versus drawbacks of factoring telemedicine and digital pharmacies into your decision-making process. We are ready and here to help.

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