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Corrigan discusses the importance of a patient-centric approach.
Pharma companies are paying more attention to the patient experience. ConnectiveRx CEO Jim Corrigan spoke with Pharmaceutical Executive about his patient-centric approach and the specialty medication market.
Pharm Exec: When it comes to a customer-centric approach, what does the future of the pharma industry look like?
Corrigan: When we think about this, the idea of a patient and the journey they take from first not feeling well, to a physicians visit, and then going through the subject of an objective treatment plan, there’s just a much higher need for individualization than there’s been in the past. The idea of the patient has been exacerbated in the rise of specialty medications. We think the future of Pharma, and really healthcare, is around being incredibly patient-centric. They must keep focused on it and we can see that the healthcare ecosystem is not becoming simpler, it’s becoming more and more complex. Pharma sees it, healthcare sees it, although it seems like Pharma is embracing it in a much more comprehensive manner. They’re thinking about not just from what the medicine and science that needs to be developed, but what is it going to do in terms of making the patient’s life easier. That isn’t just making aches go away, but how does it make the patient feel and what are the long-term effects.
Just look at a commercial, where in the first half, whether it’s a migraine, or a dermatology issue, or something more serious, you see the patient alone and its usually dark and they’re not feeling well. Then they take the drug and voila, the sun is shining and they’re playing with their friends and their dogs. That’s a subliminal way of saying we don’t just want you to feel better, we want you to have a healthier lifestyle. I think Pharma’s done a really good job of doing that. That’s how we look at the future.
Pharm Exec: What factors are driving the Pharma industry towards a customer-centric approach?
Corrigan: Unfortunately, the very first thing that gets in everyone’s way of receiving or taking the medical care they need is the economics, especially in the area of special medications. These are drugs that are very complex and are solving very complex issues, but they’re very expensive because of the administrative needs for those drugs. We want patients to have as much information as possible so that they not only understand the complexities of what it’s going to do with the other things they’re dealing with in their lives, how do they manage it economically. We’re very proud of the fact that we help people not have to decide whether they’re going to pay their mortgage or take their meds. We want them to be able to do both and not change their lifestyle.
Last, but not least, the idea that we’re going to take a patient that not’s doing well and be a contractor of their health system is not fair. If you’ve ever built a house, there are subcontractors that you have to coordinate and understand and it really is difficult. We want to make sure that our customers and users really don’t have to feel like they’re going at it alone. We want to take the friction and the pain out of the process, and we want to do that through software enabled solutions for our customers. By integrating the players, Pharma providers, pharmacists, the patients and getting them on the same team and having the same playbook and not making it any one of their responsibilities but really making them all be coordinated is really what our goal is and it’s something we feel from a personal basis.
I lost both my parents a while back and navigating the healthcare system is incredibly complex. When you’re dealing with all the emotions of it, it really is compounding. Our purpose of taking the pain out of the process and our ability to leverage great people, processes, and technology and coordinating is something that is very valuable.
Pharm Exec: What is the biggest difficulty that patients face when obtaining their prescriptions?
Corrigan: The first thing we want is for them to get the prescription. That includes getting access, seeing the right physician, making sure the referrals all happen, it’s cumbersome. We try to take the time out. How do we reduce the time so that patients are getting the treatment they need as quickly as possible? The prescription medication landscape has changed quite a bit and three out of every four prescriptions coming into the market don’t even have coverage. About 80% of prescribers have reported increases in prior authorizations.
I’m a runner and I injured my back a little bit. It took me two weeks to decide to go the physician, versus rolling it out and stretching. Finally, the orthopedist said I had to get an MRI. Here I am, working in a healthcare company, and I must wait until Thursday for a prior authorization to get the MRI so that my orthopedist can see what’s going on, so they can put me on the right physical therapy plan. That’s just one example of how everyone’s trying to do what they believe is the right thing, but we’re trying to focus on getting the patient out of pain as quickly as possible. We can do this by reducing the cycle time, making the players work together, and staying very patient centric. That’s where we’re designing our processes, technology, and training.
Pharm Exec: What challenges is the specialty medication market facing?
Corrigan: There’s a lot of pressure on patients and providers. There are a lot of dynamics in the healthcare industry itself, such as getting and keeping access. When you put some of the pricing pressures on, it becomes complex. The industry is going to get more complex and we’re not trying to shy away from that. We want to make sure that where the complexity happens, we help healthcare providers and patients with technology and processes to combat that, especially in the specialty market. We see our customers in the Pharma industry having to deal with that complexity, so we’re trying to create a one-stop shop where we can help them throughout the patient journey, whether it be through an initial co-pay type of plan, or through a buy-and-bill effort, but ultimately, we’re trying to help with the entire patient journey, so we’re more comprehensive. We can help healthcare providers fill in the pieces with what’s going on with that patient, and that’s where our messaging comes in.
Our messaging application augments the fact that we can help healthcare providers, patients, and Pharma stay better connected as they work through the journey in terms of making sure that the patients takes the first step of the process and gets what they need when they need it.
Pharm Exec: In what ways can companies go even further in using a customer-centric approach to help patients?
Corrigan: We think that ConnectiveRx is something special. We can see that in the way that our customers in the Pharma industry continue to invest in and rely on us and in our growth. We want to make sure that we partner with them, allowing brands to be differentiated and develop a reputation in the market of being accessible and affordable. Usually at the end of those drug commercials, there’s a message asking viewers to contact various companies if they need some help from an economic standpoint, and that’s where ConnectiveRx comes into play. We also want to make sure that we help the provider within Workflow and in the EMR to help select and guide them on the best medications to prescribe for the patient and helping them with that affordability question in near-real time. There’s nothing more frustrating than a provider prescribing you a medication and then you go the pharmacists and realize that your out-of-pocket expense is going to be 10-20 times more expensive than what you thought it was going to be and you have to make difficult decisions.
We think that if we can get the right info at the right time to the physician, the pharmacist, the payer, and the patient, we really think everyone will be aligned and informed. Everyone will make the best decisions based on the information at hand and we want that information to be high quality and obviously, very timely.