Part 2: Meeting Patients Where They Are During Medicare Part D Enrollment

October 28, 2020

Jordan Cupo, digital & web media specialist at Good Neighbor Pharmacy, AmerisourceBergen, explains how pharmacies can connect with their customers during Medicare Part D open enrollment amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Jordan Cupo: Hi, my name is Jordan Cupo, I am a digital and web media specialist with Good Neighbor Pharmacy (GNP) at AmerisourceBergen. In my role, I manage digital marketing solutions designed to help independent pharmacies connect with their patients and tell their story online.

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has shifted consumer behavior in a number of ways. Over the past few years, we've seen Americans in the Med D patient population continue to adopt digital technology in their daily lives. But the coronavirus pandemic has really accelerated that shift.

We're now seeing more Medicare patients than ever before embracing digital technology. This is a group of patients who are very high risk to contract the coronavirus and they're encouraged to adhere to strict quarantine and social distancing guidelines.

As a result, many seniors are experiencing isolation or feelings of loneliness and turning to digital technology to both run daily tasks and errands and stay connected to their friends and family.

One report done by the Senior List in April 2020 – so really at the early height of the pandemic – showed that 77% of Americans who are age 60 or older, have paid a bill or used a financial transaction online. 70% had shopped online.

The majority of consumers in this age group are turning to digital technology as part of their consumer behavior. The report also showed that 28% had downloaded a new mobile app during the pandemic. We've seen mobile technology adoption continue to increase in this age group and I don't expect that to stop anytime soon.

And finally, 24% reported that they ordered groceries for food online. This is a really significant change in consumer behavior. In 2019, only 11% of all Americans of any age group ordered groceries online, so that's a tremendous increase in just one year.

These trends indicate that Medicare patients are starting to use technology as part of their daily habit and I expect that we will see these trends continue as this group of consumers continues to adopt digital technology.

Independent pharmacists are uniquely positioned to meet their patients where they are. Community pharmacies understand their patient populations’ unique needs and their communication preferences on a deep level. They can use these established relationships to provide patients with the support they need, when they need it, and through the right marketing materials and communication channels.

A blend of both traditional and digital marketing assets are really important to deliver the right strategy, especially during Medicare open enrollment this year.

Pharmacies can leverage digital tools to engage and educate their patients in a number of ways.

Digital marketing is paramount to reaching patients. We have seen an uptick in consumer searches on Google for keywords such as online pharmacy and pharmacy drive thru. Independent pharmacies who are offering these services should make sure to let their patients know about any modification by updating their online listings such as Google my business, their website, and their social media profile.

Medicare patients in particular are likely to be very interested in any modified service that will help them limit their exposure to the virus.

Social media is really another key channel for educating patients, especially Medicare patients. Facebook is an excellent platform to do this. 46% of US adults who are over the age of 65 use Facebook, and that number has more than doubled since 2012.

Pharmacies can be posting content in 3 key areas to help keep their Medicare patients informed.

  • The first category is remind. As the deadline for open enrollment draws near, make sure that you're reminding patients of these deadlines.
  • The second category is educate. Pharmacies can share educational resources or short online videos to explain key changes of the upcoming open enrollment period.
  • And the third is connect. For pharmacies who are offering consultations or reviews, make sure to share information for how patients can schedule a meeting.

Yes, there is still a place for print marketing during Medicare Part D open enrollment.

Even though patients may be making less frequent in-person visits to their pharmacy due to the pandemic, print marketing is still important to consider. As pharmacies are continuing to leverage services such as home deliveries and curbside pickup, the staff have an opportunity to include materials such as bag stuffers in their patient tote to share helpful guidance and encourage patients to schedule a plan review.

At GNP we're providing our network with a range of patient facing marketing materials. This includes in-store signage, flyers, window cleaning, and we're also providing our members with materials in Spanish to engage and cater to a Spanish-speaking patient population.

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