Key Takeaways from the Mobile Patient Panel at PSS Congress

How can we increase the utilization of pharma patient services? How can mobile patient engagement drive results? How can the three modalities of mobile – SMS, mobile web, and apps – be configured to address patient connectivity issues in every patient journey, including retail, buy and bill, and rare?

These were the questions I explored at the recent Patient Support Services Congress. Joining me on a virtual panel were two industry leaders: Ian Wendt of Jaguar Health and Erik Wagner of Twilio. Our discussion was eye-opening and informative; you can watch the full video recording below.

As those in pharma know all too well, friction in the modern-day patient journey is intense. A 2020 Accenture study showed that 84% of patients were not aware of patient support programs, as compared to 81% in 2015. This downward statistic is all the more troubling because over that same period of time, the investment in patient support services doubled. If pharma can’t reach patients, those patients can’t discover and act on specialty programs.

How can mobile capabilities improve this trend in patient drop-off? Through three areas:

  1. Patient awareness of your programs: through efforts like mobile calls to action, display ads, brochures with QR codes, and patient enrollment with QR codes.
  2. Patient onboarding through simplification of the process: reaching patients directly on their phones. A snap poll during our panel revealed how badly this facilitation is needed; 50% of respondents stated that their onboarding process currently takes between one to five days.
  3. Patient adherence: by facilitating access to information that keeps patients engaged and on therapy.


With all the power of mobile to increase patient engagement, a snap poll we conducted during the panel showed that 65% of respondents did not know what percentage of patients using their brand website were using mobile.

Wendt empathized with this response.

“We were in that ‘don’t know’ bucket for a long time,” he said, “and we had made some assumptions about which platform our patients were using to access our website and as an entry point into our co-pay program.”

Wendt had believed that most patients were using their desktops; he was shocked when his team tested those assumptions and discovered that more than 90% of Jaguar’s patients were using mobile. Jaguar’s website wasn’t optimized for mobile, so the experience for most of the company’s patients had, Wendt belatedly realized, been “painful.”

Another snap poll during our panel revealed that over 90% of respondents believed that their patient traffic on mobile was either less than 10%, or they didn’t know. But if Jaguar Health is a representative example, patients on mobile can encompass closer to 90% of total traffic.

Wendt and his team have learned how important it is to meet people where they are. Even though Jaguar’s demographic isn’t young, with the average age of patients being 65, the company realized that it was unrealistic to expect patients to go back home from the pharmacy and log onto their desktops to access information about medications. Ever since the company began focusing on the mobile experience, it has seen higher engagement levels, increases in enrollment, and fewer calls for patient support.

Erik Wagner agreed that the acceleration from desktop to mobile has taken the industry by surprise. And he cited studies showing that mobile technology is being used to change user behavior and help us improve habits, such as staying on therapy. Today, “having a platform that allows a seamless transition from desktop to mobile is paramount,” he said.

Indeed, the pandemic only accelerated mobile trends that were already underway. A recent Pew study showed that 30% of people who have income levels of $30k or below rely on mobile web as their only internet source. Other data shows that three out of four patients who are 65 and older own smartphones, and 71% of people without broadband at home are uninterested in it in the future.

The conclusion? For many patients, if your company isn’t optimized for mobile, you might as well not exist.

My esteemed panel participants and I agree that the time for mobile is now. As the world becomes more digitized, people are looking for the same sort of experience with their specialty medication experience that they enjoy elsewhere.

Watch the video below to hear our full discussion on the power and importance of mobile to improve the specialty patient journey:


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