Author: Matt Arnold, Principal Analyst


Hospitals, struggling with price hikes on prescription drugs and expensive specialty therapeutics, are offsetting these burdens with increasingly restrictive formularies, reports Stat News:  

The unpredictable nature of drug price increases makes budgeting a nightmare for most hospitals. While pharmacy directors generally know prices will rise, it is hard to know when, for which drug, and by how much.

At Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, executives are expecting inpatient drug costs to increase by 10 percent this year, while outpatient drugs could jump as much as 20 percent, driven by high-priced infusion therapies and a range of other expensive drugs.

“This is one of our top concerns right now as an organization,” said Todd Karpinski, executive director of pharmacy services with Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Health Network. “It’s getting the highest level of attention.”

And while hospitals may have ducked a bullet with the failure of ACA repeal legislation, the prices on those miracle drugs that pharma keeps cranking out won’t be going down anytime soon. So how can pharmas help them better manage these costs and understand the tradeoffs involved with their products? Especially at a time when these professionals are becoming increasingly difficult for pharma account managers to buttonhole?

To help pharmas understand how to develop multichannel engagement and high touch account management strategies, we surveyed 103 P&T committee members at large and medium-sized U.S. hospitals (300+ beds) in our Manhattan Research Multichannel Payer Marketing study.


Here’s some of the key learnings about these decision-makers:

1. They rely heavily on digital sources of info for formulary decisions, getting three-quarters (74%) of the Rx drug, condition or treatment info they need for P&T committee work from online or digital sources (internet, apps, EHR, etc.). More than 8 in 10 (83%) were using digital resources for formulary decisions more than they had a year prior.


2. Search is their go-to online source of info, with 62% using a search engine to find committee-business-related info daily, 45% using websites for HCPs daily and 39% using professional mobile apps daily (51% used ePocrates apps and 46% used Medscape Professional apps). This underscores the need for investment in search analytics and SEO with these decision-makers in mind.



3. Mobile resources are key for these decision makers. Out of the five hours a day they spent online for professional purposes (!!), nearly two hours was spent on smartphones and tablets, reflecting the on-the-go nature of hospital work. Pharmas should ensure that digital properties are mobile optimized and that the resources and content they need are easy to access.


4. They’re highly social – 87% said they had used online professional message boards, communities, social networks or blogs as a source of info for P&T committee work -- far more than decision-makers in managed care orgs and PBMs – and 54% reported doing so weekly or more frequently. More than half (55%) rated the information they’d found through social sources as being somewhat or very influential on their formulary decisions. Marketers should consider mining these platforms for insights and messaging to physicians through them, where appropriate.


5. In rep meetings, they want relevant info fast, and multimedia tablet presentations can help. Four in five P&T committee members agreed that tablets make in-person meetings with account managers more valuable, with many citing visual illustrations of dense clinical info, interactive learning tools and simplified representations of budget impact analysis as factors.


6. Overall cost-effectiveness of a drug is a top driver of formulary additions and changes, ranking behind only clinical efficacy and ahead of safety/tolerability among the factors most-cited by hospital decision makers. This audience is open to messaging around value, with more than two-thirds (68%) agreeing pharma can provide value by helping their orgs achieve metrics-based goals like reducing readmissions and costs, raising the quality of the patient experience, star ratings, etc.


7. They want pharma digital resources to go beyond the basics. Half of hospital P&T committee members agreed that they would engage pharma digital resources more frequently if pharma provided more content beyond basic dossiers – things like emerging condition info and innovative beyond the pill programs. In fact, four in five hospital P&T committee members said they would grant favorable formulary status to a diabetes drug offering WellDoc’s BlueStar behavior change app over one without, all else being equal.  


In addition to hospital P&T committee members, our Multichannel Payer Marketing study also surveys decision makers at managed care orgs and PBMs.


We’re working on the 2017 edition now, and we’d love input from payer marketing or market access folks.

If you have ideas for topics and questions to test for this study, please contact us at


U.S. payers are warming up to covering digital therapeutics

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