Douglas Pierce is the Founder, President and CEO of Prescription Hope, a national prescription drug access program designed to make medication affordable for all.
In the 1990s, Douglas earned a degree in Business Communications from Cedarville University, which is a private Baptist university in Cedarville, Ohio. Shortly after graduating, he began working at a health insurance brokerage. Though he was glad to achieve his goal of working in the healthcare field, he was disheartened to discover that across the country, millions of people were struggling to pay for medication — including his mother, whose medication costs threatened to wipe out his parents’ life savings and force them into bankruptcy.
That experience motivated Douglas to launch Prescription Hope in the mid 2000s. Since its inception, Prescription Hope has helped over 80,000 Americans save more than $300 million dollars on medication. The company is also expanding and recruiting new team members.
As President and CEO, Douglas works out of the Prescription Hope’s new 30,000 square foot office in Stuart, Florida, where he is in charge of the company’s overall business strategy.
How did you get started in your industry?
After graduating with a degree in Business Communication in the 1990s, I started working in the healthcare field at an insurance brokerage. It was during this time that I became aware of the serious problem in our country, which is that millions of people cannot easily or reasonably afford their medication — which is forcing many of them to skip doses, or even abandon their medication program entirely.
How do you make money in your field?
At Prescription Hope, our business model is very simple — which is important to us, because we want our customers to clearly understand how we make money and what they are paying us to do.
Here is how things work: customers from across the country come to our website, and tell us about the medications they have been prescribed. It is a very simple online application, and it typically only takes a few minutes.
Once we receive the application, we conduct research to determine if they are eligible to enroll in various patient assistance programs. These are run by pharmaceutical and medical supply companies, and designed to help financially challenged individuals pay for their required and prescribed medication. The rules and conditions for these programs are not standard — they vary from one to another — which is something that many of our customers find frustrating and confusing. However, since we are experts in this area, we do all of the research for them. They do not have to do any research whatsoever.
If a customer is indeed eligible for enrollment in one or more patient assistance programs, then we facilitate enrollment for them, and set things up so they receive ongoing monthly supplies of their medication. We do not supply the medication, and we are not a discount card or an insurance product. What’s more, the medication that customers receive is exactly the same. All that changes for them is the price — and in a good way, because they typically pay much less than before.
For our service, we charge each customer a flat and predictable fee of $50 per month, per medication. We do not charge any enrollment fees of any kind. This is important to mention, because many seniors are on fixed incomes. When they partner with us, they never have to worry about hidden or extra fees, or that they may be paying more than another customer. Our pricing is extremely transparent, and we publish it on our website and other information materials.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I think that whenever a new company is born, there is always a degree of doubt. This is not due to a lack of confidence, but simply a result of being humble, and understanding that while we need to do our very best, there are some things that are outside of our control.
I handled that early uncertainty by staying extremely focused on our vision, which is to make medication affordable to all. Being of service to others and having a positive impact is something that I am extremely passionate about, and this has definitely helped me over the years.
How do you acquire your customers?
Many of our customers learn about us through word-of-mouth. For example, they have a family member, friend, or co-worker who has benefitted from our service, and they reach out and give us a call, or contact us through our website. Or they learn about us on TV or in the media. Our company has been featured in many leading publications and news organizations, including the Boston Globe, Reuters, ABC25 WPBF, Dr. Oz, and NBC News.
We also have relationships with 35,000 health care systems, care providers, social workers, and insurance companies across the country, and we work with many state and local government agencies, as well as renowned and leading healthcare systems such as the Cleveland Clinic, Henry Ford Health Systems, Humana, and Novant Health Systems.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
We use a variety of marketing strategies at Prescription Hope, and they are all very successful. One of the most important is our website, which in addition to offering helpful videos that explain how we work and what we do, also features testimonials from real customers who have benefited from our solution, and features a very simple application to get started in our program.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in your professional life?
This is a difficult question to answer. But for now, I would have to say the decision to stop working at an insurance brokerage and start Prescription Hope was, at the time, a rather tough call. While I was very disengaged as an insurance broker because it was heartbreaking to see how many people were struggling to afford their essential medications, I wasn’t sure if I should make the change. But I was passionate about being part of the solution and making a positive difference, and so I took the plunge — and it turned out to be the best professional decision that I have ever made.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
My work ethic and leadership approach has always been guided by my values in Faith, and to continue multiplying and sharing God’s blessing – not only for our customers and team members but also to those in need.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Interestingly, I would say that probably the most satisfying moment in my business took place before Prescription Hope was launched — but played a pivotal role in the formation and growth of the company.
Here is the back story: while I was still working in an insurance brokerage, my mom — who is my role model, and is the most loving and supportive person that I’ve ever known — was prescribed a medication that would have wiped out everything that my parents had saved over the years. I simply couldn’t let that happen. And so, I started digging into options and possibilities and learned more about patient assistance programs. I also learned that many patients were not taking advantage of this significant cost-saving option, either because they did not know that it existed, or they could not understand the eligibility rules and conditions.
Ultimately, I was able to help my parents, which was enormously satisfying and inspiring. I also realized that I could use what I learned to help other people in the same situation, and that is what paved the way for Prescription Hope.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
We see a strong ongoing growth for our company. We recently moved our national headquarters to a 30,000 office in Stuart, Florida, and we just finished completely renovating the second floor — and have begun work on the third floor. We are also actively hiring new team members.
As for what I am most excited about, I would say that it is the unlimited growth potential for our company. The demand is enormous and growing, and we are positioned to help millions of people save money each month while they live healthier, happier, and in some cases longer lives.
What business book inspires you?
I heartily recommend that everyone reads “Lead Like Jesus” by Ken Blanchard. More than any other work, this incredible and profound book has helped me realize what it means to be a true leader. I have returned to this book many times over the years, and it always rewards me with fresh insights and inspiration.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self — just like I would tell any young person today who is starting out on their unique career path — to follow your passion. Yes, sometimes you need to experience some challenges and difficult situations in order to learn and grow. However, always stay true to yourself, and believe in your ability to make a positive difference. Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to present itself — move ahead and create your own opportunity. Truly, the only regret I have about launching Prescription Hope is that I didn’t do it sooner.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
I am happy to be a mentor. The best way to contact me is through my LinkedIn. I would just ask anyone who reaches out to be a little patient, as I may not be able to respond immediately due to my very busy schedule.