Case Study: MyPTNS Patient Education Program
Urgent PC from Cogentix Medical is a percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS) therapy for Overactive Bladder. The treatment works gradually and requires patients to come in for 12 weekly appointments — which is a big commitment. Add to this that many patients don't begin to see improvement in their symptoms until after six treatments, and you have a recipe for high drop-offs.
While the weekly appointments are an excellent opportunity for a patient to express concerns about therapy's effectiveness, it is typical that that prescribing physician does not perform the weekly treatments. Instead, these treatments are delivered by a staff member who does not have the same depth of knowledge about PTNS therapy. Consequently, patients' concerns about PTNS aren't always adequately addressed.
Our company had patient education brochures and videos explaining the benefits of PTNS for those considering the therapy. However, the company offered very little information for use throughout the 12 weeks of treatment.
My question: Could we improve therapy adherence by developing a robust education program with weekly content that coincided with the patient's treatment schedule?
I thought that such an ongoing education program would be an incredible value-add that would improve patient outcomes and inspire customer loyalty. Because cost was a concern, I conceived the program as weekly educational emails sent through our website automation platform based on the initial treatment date. But what would others think?
I knew developing and implementing a meaningful solution would require early engagement and buy-in across numerous stakeholder groups, including the product team, salesforce, and healthcare practitioners.
Product team: My first step was discussing an expanded education program with the product owner to ensure that an expanded education program was in alignment with business priorities and product strategy.
Salesforce: Next, I got the salesforce involved. As the primary liaisons with customers, I knew that reps would be critical to the program's success. I selected a group of well-respected sales leaders within the organization to weigh in on the program strategy, particularly in how we would roll out to providers.
Healthcare practitioners: Working with the product team, I surveyed providers to confirm their interest in a 12-week education program.
While all stakeholder groups were exuberant about a more robust education program that would complement the 12 weeks of therapy, our discussions uncovered some concerns.
Would the patent population be sufficiently tech-savvy enough to sign-up for and receive weekly emails?
How would patients find out about the program? Would they be interested in signing up?
Would doctors promote the program? How would doctors promote the program?
To overcome these challenges, we determined that our education program must meet specific criteria.
Meaningful: The weekly messages needed to provide actionable and helpful information for patients.
Simple to use: While many people in the 60+ crowd are incredibly tech-savvy, there was a persisting bias that older people don't understand technology. We knew that physicians would not offer the program if they deemed it too complicated for their patients. Simplicity was key.
Versatile: While there was a consensus that an email-based marketing program would be a huge benefit, feedback suggested that email alone was not enough. Both the salesforce and healthcare practitioners advocated additional distribution methods for the content.
Low cost: As a mid-size medical device company, we didn't have the budget to outsource the program's development or print large quantities of materials for distribution.
The MyPTNS program was developed to provide helpful content to coincide with each week of the patient's therapy. Topics included how PTNS worked, ways to boost outcomes with behavior modification, and expectations for improvements. To ensure the information's veracity, I partnered with two nurse practitioners who provided ideas for the program and vetted the content I developed. The content was made available in numerous ways.
Weekly emails to patients based on their progression through PTNS therapy. The program was set-up using automated website workflows with the emails sent at a predetermined interval based on the patient's first appointment. To receive these emails, patients opted using a form on the MyPTNS website
A MyPTNS iOS app with digital files for use during appointments
Downloadable PDFs that providers could use to print handouts for patients
Snippets of weekly content for customer EHR systems that would be included in the after-visit summary provided to patients
To keep costs low, our internal team did all the creative and program implementation. Our in-house designer created the logo and design templates. I developed the content and formatted the files for email and print. I was also able to leverage our existing sales app platform to create the new MyPTNS app.
The Launch Part 1: Equipping the Salesforce
Training: I developed and conducted training for the salesforce that overviewed how the program works and the benefits to patients and providers. The training also highlighted the sales leaders and healthcare practitioners involved in the process to increase confidence in the program.
Onboarding materials: We provided reps a variety of materials to make it easy to launch the program. These materials were developed by me and our internal designer.
Printed and digital MyPTNS program brochures for reps to use to introduce the program to providers
Packs of MyPTNS bookmarks that included sign-up information. These were to be distributed to customers who could use them to encourage patients to sign-up for the program
Scripted emails that the sales team could send to customers announcing the program
Instructions about how to share the MyPTNS app and EHR snippets with customers
Sharing early success: I used our internal podcast to share success stories from patients, providers, and sales representatives.
The Launch Part 2: Promoting to Healthcare Providers
I also developed a multichannel content campaign to create awareness, increase consideration, and support the incorporation of the MyPTNS program.
Soft launch at the Chicago Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates Annual Meeting by one of the nurse practitioners who contributed to the program. During her presentation, she shared a preview of the program with a key audience segment, generating significant buzz about the program and leading to dozens of requests for more information
E-newsletter to a curated list of key opinion leaders in the treatment of Overactive Bladder
A series of posts on our blog announcing the MyPTNS program and associated benefits
Patient testimonial videos on YouTube which were branded with the MyPTNS program
An ongoing social media campaign highlighting the MyPTNS program, blog posts, patient success stories, and testimonial videos.
Tradeshow graphics that promoted the MyPTNS program at numerous conventions throughout the year
Call to actions were to sign-up to preview the program, request bookmarks, download handouts, and read patient testimonials
The Launch Part 3: Engaging Patients
Patients enrolled in the MyPTNS program were encouraged to contact us throughout the program for guidance and to share success stories. We received many appreciative responses from patients that were used to further promote the program. As thanks for their contribution, we sent them a branded travel mug, so they had a visible way to share their success with others. Other planned activities included an expanded myPTNS website and the development of a patient advocacy group.
High email open rate: 60-80% per email with an incredibly low-opt out rate
Enthusiastic engagement from stakeholders: Providers, patients, and the salesforce all indicated that they found this program extremely valuable. Several reps proclaimed it to be the best program ever produced by the company. Patients told us that the education program provided new information that improved their outcomes.
Requests for more: The program launched with 13 emails (one before starting treatment and 12 for weekly treatments); I quickly received requests for more emails to support ongoing therapy and versions for non-English speakers.
Is imitation the best form of flattery? When we introduced the MyPTNS program, it was a novel approach to supporting PTNS therapy. Since then, the largest competitor has implemented a very similar email program with very similar content.