Case Study

B2B Case Study: Identifying Physicians’ Roles in Patients’ Pharmacy Selection to Refine Brand Vision and Develop Strategy


When it comes to improving patient outcomes, medication non-compliance is often cited as a top barrier. So how can a company offering a new time-saving and convenient prescription delivery option get their service into the hands of patients who need help? And, to what extent can physicians be enlisted as allies in promoting the service?

One of C+R’s agency clients was working with an online pharmacy start-up and needed help identifying physicians’ motivations for recommending pharmacies to their patients. With this information, the client hoped to refine the start-up brand’s vision and develop new strategies for growing the business.

Through a qualitative research approach, C+R uncovered new opportunities for leveraging physicians to reach consumers and, ultimately, improve health outcomes. 


Understanding Physicians’ Role in Pharmacy Choice

A company offering a new online pharmacy platform that enabled same-day prescription deliveries wanted to refine their brand’s vision and develop strategies to reach new customers.

As one part of a broader research agenda, the brand wanted to understand how physicians choose and recommend pharmacies and other prescription providers to their patients. They hoped to leverage the authority and trust patients place in their physicians to draw new customers to their service.

Specifically, the company sought to understand physicians’: 

  • overall needs and pain points, including ‘hot’ issues they deal with regularly;
  • current pharmacy attitudes and behaviors and how the client’s product could fit in; and
  • perceived benefits and potential barriers to adopting the client’s service (both from current users and potential users).


In-Depth Interviews Uncover Pain Points, Perceptions, and Attitudes

As part of a larger, multi-method research study for the start-up pharmacy, C+R conducted in-depth interviews with physicians, including pharmacy service users and non-users. The sample included a mix of PCPs and specialists from multiple regions across the country.

During the interviews, C+R moderators used projective techniques to uncover physicians’ pain points, attitudes, and perceptions of the pharmacy, as well as the online service. These techniques enabled us to elicit more creative, thoughtful responses from physicians—a notoriously pragmatic segment—and get beyond their top-of-mind responses.

The result

Solving the “Redo Loop” and Other Ways to Partner with Physicians

Our research showed that physicians are physically and emotionally taxed by constantly doing “more with less,” as prescription costs increase and reimbursements decline. Given these more pressing issues, we learned that physicians don’t spend much time thinking about pharmacy services. 

When pharmacy-related issues arise, physicians generally deal with formularies, prior authorizations, and/or patient medication non-compliance; however, the “redo loop,” is also a pain point. The “redo loop” refers to a common situation where the physician, not knowing which prescription drugs are covered by a given patient’s insurance, has to repeatedly prescribe alternate medications until finding one that’s covered.

Importantly, researchers learned that physicians typically let patients drive pharmacy choice, and currently see little benefit to getting further involved. To that end, the client’s service (offering same-day prescription deliveries) was perceived to benefit patients more than physicians. A few physicians, however, articulated potential physician/clinic benefits. Namely, if patients are satisfied with the service, it could reflect well on the physician and the clinic.

Based on findings, C+R recommended that the client:

  • Highlight time-saving aspects of the service
  • Offer a trial period to allow physicians to see positive benefits with patients (e.g., increased compliance) before going “all-in”
  • Develop promotional materials to articulate the higher-order benefits for physicians
  • Work to evolve the physician-pharmacy relationship from a utility to a partnership, i.e., addressing and fixing the “redo loop”

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