Healthcare Industry Insights
The U.S. healthcare system is complex, nuanced, and often politicized. By looking at the facts, however, we can identify emerging patterns and a growing need in patient care.
Cost-Sharing vs. Wage Growth
Between 2006 and 2016, cost-sharing payments surpassed wage growth, leaving many Americans struggling to pay medical bills and forced to make difficult decisions. Groceries or prescriptions? Medical bills or mortgage payment? Let’s look at some of the stats.
During this decade, deductible payments increased 176%, coinsurance increased 67%, and out-of-pocket spending increased 54% on average. According to the study, these statistics could be low. In contrast, wages only increased 29%.
*The study analyzed millions of claims from the MarketScan claims database. Although this approach had advantages, the study didn’t include payments toward out-of-network services or out-of-pocket payments for services not covered, which make up some of the highest medical expenses a person could incur.
The rise in cost-sharing payments has serious consequences for Americans. In a study by the American Cancer Society, researchers discovered that 56% of all U.S. adults had difficulty paying medical bills, postponed medical care, or worried about affording care. According to a poll conducted by the Los Angeles Times in partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation, 50% of adults with employer insurance said medical costs had caused them or an immediate family member to postpone a doctor’s appointment, skip filling a prescription, or delay medical care in 2018.
Unfortunately, medical bills are even higher for sick Americans—38% to 64% higher across all income levels. The sickest 15% make up 79% of total health spending for people with job-based insurance. To put this in perspective, U.S. patients spent $47 billion on prescription drugs in 2017. The top health spenders, usually families or individuals with chronic diseases like multiple sclerosis and cystic fibrosis, pay the vast majority of it. They rely on cutting-edge therapies and drugs that come with exorbitant price tags and often aren’t covered by insurance, leaving them bereft of basic necessities, impoverished, or bankrupt. To meet this growing need, patient assistance programs provide financial assistance for people with dozens of serious illnesses.
The Assistance Fund (TAF) is an independent charitable foundation providing financial assistance for patients and families struggling with high copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, and other health-related expenses.
TAF relies on contributions from generous donors and partnerships with medical providers to assist patients with chronic diseases. As a result, their ability to reach each audience (i.e. branding) directly impacts their work efficacy.
As a newly established patient assistance foundation, compared to others in the industry, TAF needed to reposition itself as an innovator and leader to key stakeholders in this crowded, high-growth market.
In 2016 very few, if any, of the larger assistance funds had people-focused branding. Many competing foundations used stock photography and generic messaging that left their brands feeling impersonal. In addition, they had outdated websites, lacking in user experience (UX) design and thereby missing opportunities to better serve older, chronically sick patients with an easy and intuitive web experience.
Today’s patients visit medical professionals who work indirectly for insurance companies, leading to healthcare services that can feel impersonal and rushed. Considering the state of U.S. healthcare and the overwhelming patient need for cost-sharing assistance, we were surprised at the results of our competitor audit and identified a unique branding opportunity to address TAF’s challenges.
In contrast to the impersonality pervasive across the industry, healthcare-related journalism connects with the reader by telling engaging patient stories. It focuses on the patient first and supports their story with industry statistics. Good journalism, as seen in many of the links above, teaches a valuable lesson: patient stories are compelling. By taking a caring, journalistic approach, we set out to infuse TAF’s brand with a humanity that could differentiate them in the marketplace.
We compiled our insights from industry research, competitor audits, and healthcare-related journalism to create a patient-focused, story-driven brand for TAF. To accomplish this, we first recreated their brand identity, adding some human warmth and hope into the foundational design. With bright and energetic tones grounded by grays and ample white space, the color palette projects optimism in the face of trying times. Additionally, the new brandmark represents each of TAF’s six values and symbolizes disease awareness and support.
Secondly, we honed in on a new messaging direction, focusing on the patient instead of the disease. To bring this refreshing approach to life, we leveraged the power of storytelling across various mediums. Custom photography became the driving force behind TAF’s brand visuals, capturing real patients in real life and helping prospective patients relate to the cause. Through honest videos that feel like mini documentaries, we tell patient stories to highlight the grave need, honor their courage, and show stakeholders how TAF impacts individuals.
The new messaging direction humanizes TAF as an organization by showcasing their team as well. Now prospective patients, partners, and donors can get to know TAF’s leadership team, as well as TAF’s patient specialists who serve patients on a daily basis. This approach helps the brand feel more accessible and caring to patients.
We even changed the domain name from theassistancefund.org to tafcares.org, better showcasing that TAF cares personally for their patients. Best seen on the new website, the design and messaging directions create a unified brand experience for TAF stakeholders that builds brand awareness and loyalty through compelling stories.
We developed a modern web solution to make the user experience simple and intuitive. One critical UX element was site navigation. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for each stakeholder to access important information online. For older users less experienced with websites, or for those who don’t know what they’re looking for, we created a friendly tool to guide visitors to needed info. The tool is operated by a decision tree and asks users a series of questions before pointing them to the relevant web page.
The new website also features a responsive design so stakeholders get the same great experience on any device. Because we delivered a custom-built website from the ground up, we were able to integrate with internal systems like SalesForce to provide real-time data feeds to key areas of the websites. Thanks to a customized CMS solution, the site also augments TAF’s back-end processes. Now various stakeholders at TAF can easily update content, post career openings, optimize SEO, and more, which helps their team better communicate with patients, providers, and donors.
With modern, scalable branding and a new website that better reaches each of their key audiences, TAF stands out in the market as a caring, story-driven patient assistance foundation. Their brand is now better positioned to compete against other well-established programs for donations, partnerships, and patient assistance.
Since launching the new brand, TAF has increased donations 38% from $119M in 2016 to $164M in 2017, and the organization continues to grow rapidly. We’re thrilled to continue to support an organization that’s providing many with access to the life changing treatments they need.