Marketers were asked to share examples of how they adjusted their approach to payer marketing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Susan Abedi

EVP, strategy and insights

The pandemic has unequivocally highlighted the importance of refining our understanding of stakeholder relationships, particularly as it relates to optimizing engagement. 

To meet the needs of the new reality delineated by engagement limitations, knowledge of “core” contracting and industry relations contacts, we’ve developed a new offering: Acuity Payer Profiling. Through AI-driven analytics, this platform identifies formulary and medical policy decision-makers, as well as influencing functions and organizations. The success of this approach is evidenced in a case in which a client uncovered the increasing role of affiliated health systems in bringing formulary concerns to payer leadership. 

As a result, these stakeholders became more accessible targets, and payer marketers/account managers subsequently incorporated this critical info into their COVID-19 engagement strategy.

Jamie Van Iderstine

SVP, client engagement
Cyan Health

With clients suddenly challenged to achieve their payer marketing objectives without the benefit of personal interactions, there is an obvious need to transform print materials into digital form, and augment account director efforts with purposeful use of non-personal promotion. Beyond those basics, we’re helping clients capitalize on pockets of opportunity resulting from COVID-related adjustments in payer management, such as allowance of 90-day supplies and easing of some prior authorizations.

We have also been assessing and addressing the impact of “channel shift.” Dramatic unemployment trends are driving the shift of many members from commercial coverage to Medicaid (generally a less profitable channel for pharma, because of the government’s pricing rules). 

We’re helping clients gauge the potential impact of this shift while exploring opportunities to increase volume to compensate for lack of per-script value in Medicaid and increase value (i.e., per-script profitability) to compensate for loss of volume in the commercial channel.

Ray Johnson

SVP, Management Supervisor
Ogilvy Health

In an information-rich/time-poor/COVID-19 environment, telehealth has become deeply entrenched as a marketing channel. While interest has been and remains high for optimizing this channel, historically it has been viewed primarily an option for buying media placements—but the channel offers may more opportunities.

To create engagement with a positive impact in this highly fragmented marketplace, payer marketers are looking to telehealth as a new way to support population health during the pandemic. Engaging with clinicians where they spend most of their time (4-6 hours per day) is mission critical. Providing patient education to patients new to therapy, and providing access and affordability support within telehealth systems, are key areas that payer marketers are starting to pursue. As patients with chronic conditions are delaying in-person HCP visits in favor of choosing telehealth, payer marketers would be well-served to lean into this growing healthcare phenomenon.

Landy Townsend

VP, marketing strategy and communications

In late March, TrialCard’s Policy Reporter, a medical policy tracking platform for physicians, health plans, laboratories and product manufacturers, alerted its clients to dozens of new and updated payer policies related to the COVID-19 virus. Many of these new policies include the elimination of patient cost-sharing expense for COVID-19 testing, in line with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which requires most health plans to cover testing at no cost to the plan member. 

Due to stay-at-home and self-quarantine mandates, many health plans also adopted significant changes to their rules for covering telehealth services, including waiving patient cost-sharing expense and expanding access to these services.

Policy Reporter has used its subscription service to track COVID-19 policies to help physicians, payers, laboratories, product manufacturers and other healthcare companies track and understand this rapidly changing policy landscape.