Commentary

Lessons On Delivery From New Healthcare Marketers

Lucia’s type 2 diabetes has been under control for a year. Every month, she needs the same medications and the same number of blood glucose test strips. How can she get these products most conveniently and cheaply?

Daniel is a FedEx employee with a company-sponsored flexible savings account (FSA). He lost his reading glasses and needs new insoles but doesn’t know whether these items are eligible.

Michelle has persistent sinus infections due to a deviated septum. She knows what medication she needs and can’t take time off to see a doctor, who’s likely to give her the same treatment regimen as before.

Trailblazing companies are providing solutions for each of these consumers with simple-to-use mobile apps. They’ve brought to market radically different approaches to targeting, marketing and servicing consumers that we’ll discuss on the “Learning from the D2C Upstarts” panel Sept. 27 at the MediaPost Marketing Health conference.

Here are four topics we plan to address.

Don’t try to be the “Uber” of healthcare.  In today’s healthcare delivery system, successful entrants aren’t “disruptors.” They are bringing about new approaches to the challenges present in the existing care continuum.

An excellent example of these newer entrants are  sister platforms FSAstore.com and HSAstore.com.

Approximately 35 million people are covered by flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and another 20 million by health savings accounts (HSAs). FSAs and HSAs are employer-based programs that allow consumers to set aside dollars on a tax-free basis to purchase medical products and services. FSAs are offered by 63% of employers, making it the tax-advantaged health care account most frequently offered to employees.

FSAstore.com and HSAstore.com were founded on the idea that it should be simple for consumers like Daniel to spend, manage, and use their FSAs and HSAs. The sites are stocked exclusively with eligible products and services, so there’s no guessing about what is and is not reimbursable by users' accounts.

Consumers know what they want and are making their needs clear. Michelle knows what she needs for her sinusitis and just wants to get it without going to see a doctor.

Enter Lemonaid Health, the app-based telehealth platform powered by LMND Medical Group, Inc. Lemonaid promotes itself as an online doctor’s office, providing a flat rate of $25 per “visit.”

Once a  five-minute visit is complete, Lemonaid provides incremental convenience with direct links to both mail order and local pharmacies. Thus, Michelle has multiple choices for getting her meds quickly and efficiently.

Successful entrants deliver on affordability and transparency. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation study, 24% of Americans didn't fill a prescription last year because of the high cost, while 19% said they skipped a dose or cut pills in half for the same reason.

The Blink app from Blink Health addresses this issue. The online pharmacy cuts out the middlemen -- pharmacy benefit managers -- and can then offer the lowest prices on prescription drugs. Someone like Lucia searches the site for the drugs and strips she needs, pays online at lower prices or picks them up at her pharmacy.

Blink Health’s value prop to consumers is simple: lowering the price of drugs to provide more value for your healthcare dollar, whether or not you’re insured. Blink is not insurance and the company offers a convenient way to pay a low cash price for drugs.

Transparency drives opportunity. Blink Health’s success illustrates this lesson.

One of the constant themes in both Blink Health’s messaging and the testimonials of their members is the legitimate and dramatic comparisons between the costs of a drug before and after purchasing through Blink Health.

In addition to the tried-and-true techniques of “friend get a friend” offers, Blink takes a crowdsourcing approach to organic growth, and loyalty. It has built a cadre of repeat buyers who are also incentivized to refer others, with the rationale that having more of your friends join lowers drug and OTC product prices for all.

UPDATE: This post has been changed to correct inaccurate information on Blink Health.

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