Patient Engagement, Pharma

Novo Nordisk collaborates with healthcare startup to incentivize diabetes medication adherence

The medication adherence collaboration with Novo Nordisk and Sempre Health will focus on incentivizing diabetes patients.

Sempre Health, a medication management startup that has the goal of boosting adherence by incentivizing patients with discounts on prescription medication, has embarked on a collaboration with Novo Nordisk.

Sempre’s technology involves transmitting a text message to users. People receive a text message that offers a discount if they pick up their prescription on a certain day. When patients fill their scrip, they receive the discount. But the way that discount is applied can take different forms, depending on the health plan partner.

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A Deep-dive Into Specialty Pharma

A specialty drug is a class of prescription medications used to treat complex, chronic or rare medical conditions. Although this classification was originally intended to define the treatment of rare, also termed “orphan” diseases, affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the US, more recently, specialty drugs have emerged as the cornerstone of treatment for chronic and complex diseases such as cancer, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS.

The collaboration with Novo Nordisk will focus on diabetes medication from the drug developer. The goal will be to onboard 10,000 patients this year, according to an emailed news release.

Steve Albers, corporate vice president for market access and public affairs with Novo Nordisk,  said in the release that this would be the first of in a series of pilots to reduce diabetes medication costs at pharmacies.

“And because consistently taking medicines is important for blood sugar control, we’re keen to see Sempre Health’s adherence approach support patients.”

Sempre launched two years ago and has since partnered with payers and other pharma companies, though it has declined to name any of them until now.

Financial incentives to reward adherence to a care plan, healthy behavior or medication specifically has been an area of interest for health plans and pharma companies for some time.  In an interview with Kaiser Health News last year, Robert Saunders, research director at the Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke University, observed that incentive programs have become quite popular in the insurance market, and lately these programs have been expanded to Medicaid plans.

For pharma companies improving adherence is critical, not just to help revenues but also to quantify the effectiveness of their medication.

Several companies have spotted opportunities to improve adherence.

Allazo Health, for example, developed a predictive analytics tool called AllazoEngine to assess patients’ risk of medication non-adherence and identifies the intervention channels and messages that produce the highest uplift in adherence. Like Sempre, its customers include pharma companies, pharmacies and payers but also pharmacy benefit managers.

The development of smart pill bottles as a way to remind patients and their caregivers when they’re supposed to take a pill or when they have neglected to take them. Circadian Design created Round Health’s automated refill and medication tracking program and last year, Alto Pharmacy acquired Round Health for an undisclosed sum.

HealthPrize is another player in this space. It rewards patients for consuming content from its customers and quizzing them to ensure they have understood what they read or watched. Novo Nordisk, Pfizer and Shire have worked with the company in the past.

Clarification: HealthPrize has previously worked with Novo Nordisk, Shire, and Pfizer but they are not currently customers. We regret any confusion this may have caused.

Photo: Hong Li, Getty Image