Innovation + Human Engagement = Optimal Patient Support

August 21, 2019

Patient support program providers should incorporate new technologies for more effective processes, but this should be matched with empathy, human connectivity and personalized clinical interventions, writes Tommy Bramley.

The patient support industry has been experiencing an ongoing push to evolve alongside the changing needs of patients and manufacturers. Programs that employ a one-size-fits-all approach, and focus on product-centric engagement, are constructed on the belief that educating the patient on a drug’s efficacy, safety and medication regimen is sufficient to enable their success on therapy. However, product-centric programs fail to address critical or emerging issues that impact patient outcomes, including:

• Access barriers: The process of gaining access to prescribed therapies may include prior authorizations and benefit verification, which can cause significant delays in therapy initiation for patients.  

• Affordability: With the rise of copay accumulators and programs that prevent financial assistance from manufacturers to be applied to the patient’s deductible or out-of-pocket maximum, the financial impact to patients continues to be an issue. 

• Adherence challenges: According to the Annals of Internal Medicine, more than 30 percent of prescriptions go unfilled. And, even 70 percent of patients who do fill a prescription often fall off therapy in the first few months.[1]

• The rise of specialty medications:According to the Drug Channels Institute, it is projected that nine out of 10 top-selling drugs will be specialty by 2020 and that specialty drugs will account for 47 percent of pharmacy revenue by 2022.[2]These medications often have more complex dosing regimens, additional side effects and require further patient education. 

• Patient commitment: A patient’s overall health literacy, understanding of the severity of their condition or ability to get to treatment sites on a regular basis can all impact their ability to achieve the greatest possible outcome. In fact, nearly 36% of adults in the U.S. have low health literacy, meaning they may not be able to read instructions on a prescription label to determine what time and how often to take medication.[3]

As a result of these shifts, the industry has transitioned to a more patient-centric approach. By putting the patient’s needs at the forefront, manufacturers and their patient support program partners can better address the complex intersection of access and adherence barriers, socioeconomic factors and behavioral influences. Addressing all – or at least several – of these factors at once helps ensure patients start their therapies as quickly as possible and remain adherent, which helps the patient achieve the healthiest possible outcome. To do this effectively, however, requires today’s patient support programs providers to incorporate new technologies that enable more efficient and effective processes. That technology must then be paired with empathy, human connectivity and personalized clinical interventions to provide the most value and create the greatest impact on patients. 

Tech-enabled solutions: realizing the full benefit of patient support hub services 

When looking to develop a new program or engage a patient support partner, manufacturers should seek out partners who have not only invested in human expertise and training, but also the technology that will enable them to do the most good for patients. By creating an environment with foundational technology and the people who can support innovations now and into the future, a hub services provider is positioning a manufacturer – and their patients – for success no matter how the industry may evolve. 

Technology innovations have emerged as powerful enablers for services that promote patient access, engagement and adherence. They allow the care team to spend more time interacting one-on-one with patients, generate quality product data for manufacturers and help patients feel more involved and in control of their healthcare decisions. To that end, we’ve seen a growing interest from our manufacturer partners to incorporate solutions that utilize artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning, alongside person-to-person communication and intervention, into their overall patient support programs strategy. Specifically, today’s manufacturers are seeking out:

• Advanced patient support platforms: Cutting-edge technology ecosystems can automate workflows to schedule and track tasks, and connect patients with clinicians in real-time. Actionable patient insights are gathered through quality data management, reports and dashboards, targeted analytics and competitive intelligence, which can then be leveraged by the care team to improve the patient experience. Data gleaned from these platforms also enable manufacturers and their partners to pursue faster, more strategic approaches to designing and executing patient support programs.

• Patient-predicted risk solutions: Machine learning and AI-backed solutions enable care teams to predict which patients will require the most adherence support. Nurses and/or clinicians are then able to use personalized interventions to meet patients where they are in their treatment journey. 

• Mobile engagement apps: Mobile apps increase connectivity with patients and caregivers by delivering the right resources at the right time through notifications and text messages. These mobile technologies can also enhance the patient’s journey by providing support after therapy is prescribed, but before the first fill.

• Next-generation benefit verification solutions: Electronic benefit verification (eBV) solutions leverage machine learning to accurately predict benefit coverage and increase speed to therapy. This can reduce the time for benefit verification to hours instead of days.

Optimal outcomes

When used effectively, technology successfully breaks down some of today’s biggest barriers-accelerating speed-to-therapy, improving the experience of patients and providers, and ultimately helping patients realize the full benefit of their treatment. By pairing modern technology with regular clinician engagement, patient support providers are able to reach patients on multiple levels, encourage continued adherence and serve as the connector between those who create medicines and those who rely on them. It’s an approach that combines empathy and expertise-the merging of technology and people to facilitate the best possible outcomes. 

Dr. Tommy Bramley is President of Lash Group.

References

[1]Annals of Internal Medicine, Interventions to Improve Adherence to Self-administered Medications for Chronic Diseases in the United States: A Systematic Review, https://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/1357338/interventions-improve-adherence-self-administered-medications-chronic-diseases-united-states.

[2]The Drug Channels Institute, The 2018 – 2019 Economic Report on Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Specialty Distributors, https://drugchannelsinstitute.com/products/industry_report/wholesale/

[3]Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc., Health Literacy Fact Sheets, https://www.chcs.org/resource/health-literacy-fact-sheets/