According to a study published in The Permanente Journal, medication non-adherence is one of the most prevalent problems among people with chronic illnesses and just one of the few “missed opportunities” that plague pharmaceutical companies. Affecting upwards of 50 percent of all chronically ill patients, nonadherence is thought to cost more than $100 billion in preventable medical costs each year, in addition to an estimated 100,000 preventable deaths.
To remedy this problem and other missed opportunities, leading copay provider TrialCard announced in September 2019 that it had acquired San Francisco-based Mango Health, a patient engagement platform that helps consumers access information about their health. The merger, TrialCard executives say, not only has created an avenue to improve patient outcomes by promoting medication adherence, it also has allowed pharmaceutical companies to integrate adherence and engagement programs with copay and hub programs, into a streamlined solution. Keeping these functions separate leads to a host of “missed opportunities” for pharmaceutical companies to engage with their patients, explains Molly Stallings, VP of product management at TrialCard.
When pharmaceutical companies push adherence and engagement programs, they are traditionally set apart from each other and not leveraged in a way that makes sense for the consumer or the company, says Yadin Shemmer, SVP of Mango Health.
“Copay is not leveraged the way it should be, and that’s a major missed opportunity,” Shemmer says. “The copay is a pretty unique thing, where you have tens of thousands – and sometimes hundreds of thousands – of patients that are looking to pharma for cost savings on their medication. We need to be able to bring in that affordability factor to patients in a modern way, not just as a physical copay card.”
Copay is not leveraged the way it should be, and that’s a major missed opportunity.Yadin Shemmer, Mango Health
The adherence paradox
Another problem for pharmaceutical companies is medication adherence, both primary and secondary, which has baffled and frustrated companies for decades, Shemmer says. “It’s very expensive to get a prescription written, and there are too many patients who don’t get the [prescription] or stay on it,” Shemmer says. “There is so much effort in getting a doctor to prescribe. When a patient doesn’t go to a pharmacy to have that prescription filled, or they only refill it once or twice, that’s a big missed opportunity.”
According to Shemmer, it’s a costly problem for pharmaceutical companies, with 30% of patients on average failing to fill prescriptions after a doctor’s visit.
But the roots of solution for these problems are often complex, and range from patients’ inability to afford medications, their difficulty in navigating a confusing healthcare system, or even their lack of understanding why the medication was prescribed in the first place.
However, Stallings says, there are ways to solve some of these obstacles. “We don’t have control over everything, but patient behavior can be modified with the right interventions,” she notes.
The Mango Health platform
Enter the TrialCard – Mango Health acquisition. Founded in 2011, Mango Health has grown into a leading medication management platform for millions of consumers. Using the Mango Health app, patients can enter the names of their prescription medications and receive information about dosing, side effects and interactions with food and other medicines. The Mango Health platform also tracks past and current medication history – including start and stop dates for all medications – and allows consumers to track healthy habits. Using a gamified system, the Mango Health app awards “points” for patients who track habits such as taking medication, recording their blood pressure, and logging their weight. These points can then be used to win gift cards or charitable donations through a weekly raffle.
Using these behavioral interventions, the TrialCard – Mango Health marriage is poised to solve multiple missed opportunities for pharmaceutical companies, most notably bringing scale to adherence programs, and driving engagement so that patients will take advantage of copay and hub services.
“We’re going to be integrating the copay offer into the Mango app, so that patients can enroll in the copay program to receive the card in the app,” Shemmer says. Through the app, patients can also receive timely reminders to refill prescriptions, as well as information on how much they’ve been able to save and other copay-specific messages.
Another advantage that Mango Health brings to the table is a superb patient experience, says Stallings. “The people who work at Mango have tremendous background in healthcare-related consumer technologies, and they are experts in creating very rewarding customer experiences,” she says.
Why should it be easier for a patient to find out where their pizza order is than finding out when they will receive their medication?Paul LeVine, TrialCard
But more than anything, Mango Health has succeeded in building an experience that connects once disparate patient healthcare experiences and puts them in one easy-to-access, streamlined space.
“One of the reasons why the adherence space hasn’t reached its potential is because these different elements are siloed and the patient experience isn’t unified – it’s fragmented,” says Shemmer. “At the end of the day, patients want simplicity and convenience, and we’ve brought that into healthcare. Mango can help you manage all of your meds for various health conditions in one place.”
Another critical challenge that a TrialCard and Mango Health merger mitigates is the consumer burden of filling specialty medications – prescriptions for chronic illnesses such as diabetes or HIV that are often cost-prohibitive for the patient. “The specialty pharmacy prosses is inherently way more complicated,” says Paul LeVine, TrialCard SVP of corporate strategy, data, and analytics.
To ensure the patient journey is a positive one from the moment he or she is enrolled, through the conversion and onboarding processes, Mango Health and TrialCard have teamed up to offer several solutions. The first solution is an inclusion on the Mango Health app where patients can track the status of their delivery or order, creating more transparency and bringing the patient into their medication journey experience. “Why should it be easier for a patient to find out where their pizza order is than finding out when they will receive their medication?” poses LeVine.
Onboarding a patient will also be easier, says Stallings, since the app will allow faster verification of patient benefits and will help determine if the patient requires a special authorization more quickly. That administrative burden, often left to the patient to navigate, is now streamlined and simplified for both patient and provider.
With Mango Health, we’ve been able to create a valuable, seamless experience that allows us to better engage patients.Molly Stallings, TrialCard
“Oftentimes, patients visit their physician and receive a life-changing diagnosis along with a prescription for a very expensive new therapy. At such a difficult time, they are left to navigate this complicated process with their insurance company. Imagine the anxiety!”
“TrialCard’s focus is always on the patient,” Stallings says. “With Mango Health, we’ve been able to create a valuable, seamless experience that allows us to better engage patients. The transparency within this medication program management system builds trust and leads to better outcomes for countless patients every single day.”