Thursday, January 28, 2010

3 ways behavioral economics might benefit bio-pharma branding

More and more health, science, and technology brands are examining how breakthroughs in behavioral economics can:
  1. affect consumer response,
  2. improve patient compliance, and
  3. enhance the overall brand experience.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Vitality Inc., a start-up in Cambridge, Mass., wants to apply behavioral economics to prompt people to take prescriptions. Vitality's GlowCaps use lights and sounds as reminders. The caps also contain a radio transmitter that sends email to doctors, relatives and others about how often the cap is opened.

Vitality President Josh Wachman hopes to market the GlowCaps to drug makers, pharmacies, insurers and patients, arguing they will improve compliance and save money by preventing more costly health problems.

Also, pharmacy-benefits manager Express Scripts Inc. tried to overcome behavioral issues to boost enrollment in home-delivery services. In November 2008, Express Scripts contacted 63,000 Lowe's Cos. employees and dependents with continuing prescriptions, asking them to accept or decline home delivery and offering to complete required paperwork and contact physicians. Use of home delivery has since risen to almost 40% of eligible workers, up from about 14% last year.

Bob Nease, chief scientist at Express Scripts, says the initiative sought to overcome enrollment barriers for users who recognized that they could save money on co-pays by ordering fewer, but larger, batches of drugs. "You see these things as being trivial transition costs, but psychologically they loom really large," Mr. Nease says.

One forum where these ideas were discussed was the “ignite” symposium – sponsored by Express Scripts, Center for Cost-Effective Consumerism, the American Benefits Council, and Hewitt Associates.

Ignite symposium speakers included --
  • Alan Garber, MD, PhD: Professor of Medicine; Director, Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research; Director, Center for Health Policy; Stanford University
  • Emma Hoo: Director, Value Based Purchasing; Pacific Business Group on Health
  • Bob Ihrie, MBA: Senior Vice President, Employee Rewards and Services; Lowe's
  • James A. Klein: President; American Benefits Council
  • David Laibson, PhD: Harvard College Professor and Robert I. Goldman Professor of Economics; Harvard University
  • Jeff Munn: Principal, Health Management Consulting Practice; Hewitt Associates
  • Bob Nease, PhD: Chief Scientist; Express Scripts
  • Larry Zarin: Senior Vice President, Marketing and Corporate Communications; Express Scripts

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