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Latest news and updates about the Medicare and pharmacy industries.

Medicare Open Enrollment and COVID-19: Tips for Reaching Patients

Posted on November 12, 2020 by Amplicare Team

In 2020, pharmacists looking to reach patients during the Medicare Open Enrollment period have a new question to answer: how do you help patients who are social distancing?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on the Medicare-eligible population over the past several months. With cases rising in recent weeks, patients observing social distancing measures may be hesitant to visit the pharmacy for Medicare consultations. 

This wariness means that pharmacists will have to find new, virtual ways to ensure their patients get the help they need when it comes to choosing a new plan. On a recent webinar, we spoke with Amplicare customers Chris Cornelison, owner of Iuka Discount Drugs and Solutions Rx, and Lee Griffin, pharmacist at Iuka Discount Drugs, to learn how they are engaging with patients this fall. Here are four takeaways from the webinar:

1. Be Proactive:

At Iuka, Cornelison and Griffin have always been proactive about reaching out to patients about Medicare plan comparisons. However, they emphasize that with the added challenge of COVID-19, it’s even more important than usual for pharmacists to take the lead. According to a recent study from GoHealth, more than half (57%) of Medicare-eligible Americans say they are overwhelmed by the idea of finding the right plan. However, a separate consumer survey from Deft Research found that a majority of Medicare beneficiaries are reluctant to seek in-person help this Medicare Open Enrollment period due to the pandemic. The responses from patients to both of these studies show that there is a need for the guidance that pharmacists can offer, but many may have to initiate the conversations with patients. 

Pro tip: Pharmacies using Amplicare Match can take advantage of the free calls and texts we offer to let patients know about the plan comparison services available at the pharmacy.

2. Target Patient Groups:

According to Cornelison and Griffin, 65% of Iuka’s patients are on the pharmacy’s Med Sync program. During the Medicare Open Enrollment period, the pharmacy plans to be proactive about offering plan comparisons to these patients using existing communication methods. Additionally, the pharmacy plans to target patients who have win-win opportunities that take into account their adherence (i.e., situations where the patient’s cheapest plan option for the next year is also beneficial to the pharmacy). Identifying patient segments is a great way to ensure you reach as many patients as possible throughout the seven-week enrollment period. 

Pro tip: In addition to a win-win report, Amplicare Match also has filters such as “Drugs Not Covered Next Year” or “Formulary Restrictions Next Year” to help pharmacists identify patients who need them most.

3. Offer Online Education:

Every year, pharmacy staff at Iuka host educational sessions during which they help their patients understand the Medicare options available to them and how the pharmacy can help. This year, they are adapting to the circumstances by taking their message online. The virtual educational sessions, hosted on Zoom, will mirror the structure of the offline event and highlight how patients can compare plans that cover their medications, keep their doctors in network, and keep the pharmacy in network. According to the Deft Research study, only 9% of Medicare-eligible patients planned to meet with a broker this fall, so patients will likely be appreciative of the efforts to bring the information to them.

Pro tip: If you’re not set up to host a virtual education session, consider offering over-the-phone consultations to patients. You can also print handouts available in Amplicare or other educational material and mail them to patients or use them as bag stuffers for prescription delivery.

4. Use Amplicare Navigate:

Amplicare Navigate is an online enrollment portal designed to help pharmacists and patients remotely collaborate on plan comparisons and enrollments. As Amplicare Match users, Cornelison and Griffin also plan to incorporate the new platform into their patient outreach, particularly for COVID-conscious patients. When reaching out to Med Sync patients, Griffin notes that he plans to offer to set the patients up on the portal so they can see plans available to them. Additionally, he plans to take advantage of the option to save comparisons for patients so they can access them in Navigate. 

Pro tip: Open Enrollment handouts in Amplicare Match include an “Enroll Online” option that creates an Enroll ID and instructions for accessing Navigate. 

For more tips on reaching patients this fall and using the Navigate platform, be sure to check out our webinar, available now on demand

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