There are many reasons why patients don’t take their medicine. Walgreens’ latest campaign is working to get patients back on track and increase medication adherence.
The campaign, Wake Up Call, is focused on building tools to help patients stick to their medication regimen and educate them about the importance of taking medicine on schedule.
Nonadherence can be both dangerous for the patient and costly for the healthcare system. A study published last year found the total cost of medication nonadherence can range from $5,271 to $52,341 per patient.
“There are several factors that cause patients to not take their medication,” said Adam Holyk, SVP and chief marketing officer at Walgreens. “Some of the most important ones when we think about patients with chronic disease are forgetfulness, convenience, and not properly understanding how their medication should be taken.”
The campaign, which began in January and expanded into a second wave of ads last week, is running print ads in weeklies and lifestyle and health publications, digital ads, and out-of-home ads in the New York and Chicago mass-transit systems. Walgreens worked with Grey New York and Burson Cohn & Wolfe on the campaign.
Walgreens is directing people to tools to educate them about their medicine or simply remind them to take it. The first line is the in-store pharmacists, Holyk said, who can help patients understand their medicine alongside digital tools on the Walgreens app, which has 50 million downloads.
On the app, patients can set a daily pill reminder, set up autofill for their prescriptions, and even use the app to skip the pharmacy line in stores or have their medicine delivered. These tools are meant to make getting and taking medicine easy and simple, addressing two of the reasons people don’t take medication: forgetfulness and convenience.
“[From] the numbers we’ve shared on chronic patients, more than 20% of our medications are actually refilled through digital channels,” Holyk said. “From an adherence standpoint, the patients who adopt the reminders are more adherent, and it does actually help them.”
The campaign is largely focused on patients with chronic disease, half of whom don’t take their daily medicine as prescribed. The campaign has a broad reach because the audience is simply so large. Six in 10 Americans are diagnosed with one or more chronic diseases, and half of those people don’t take their daily medicine as prescribed, meaning nearly 100 million people are nonadherent, Holyk said.
Wake Up Call also fits Walgreens’ brand identity launched last year and several of its new initiatives, including Walgreens Express, which helps patients skip the line in stores, and the pharmacy’s partnership with FedEx to offer national next-day delivery for medicines.
“We’re now just over a year since we launched our new brand identity, ‘Trusted Since 1901,’” Holyk said. “As we’ve thought about bringing [the new brand identity] to life through marketing communications and activations in store, adherence emerged as of these areas to demonstrate it. All of our work is heavily consumer-led and the key insight is that we know that people with chronic conditions want to live their life to the fullest, but more than half risk their health by not taking medication as prescribed.”