At this time of year, many life sciences companies are evaluating the efficacy and value of their patient solutions (hub) programs. Because patient and healthcare provider (HCP) experience is directly impacted by the quality of your patient solutions provider, reviewing these programs can make the difference between a patient or HCP experience marred by uncertainty and an experience that encourages improved clinical outcomes and brand loyalty.
The entire healthcare industry is adapting to address new social norms and economic changes. Your patient solutions provider should perform above and beyond the status quo and serve as a consultative partner to ensure your program provides the best patient and HCP experience that drives market share.
With more than nine years of experience providing patient solutions programs and services for more than 40 life sciences organizations, our team has determined five crucial considerations for your mid-year patient solutions provider review.
1. Is your current partner meeting service level agreements (SLAs)?
Let’s start with the basics. While SLAs should be considered the minimum threshold of delivery, overpromising and underdelivering is a common problem when it comes to serving the complicated pharmaceutical industry. Your provider should be willing to put fees at risk if SLAs are not met. A potential new provider should advise what they would do differently to better serve your patients and HCPs—and how they plan to continue to innovate to keep up with patients and HCPs evolving expectations. Ask potential new providers for case studies and references relevant to your disease state and program offerings.
2. Are there any process inefficiencies due to use of legacy systems or disruptions in services due to system upgrades and bug fixes?
Again, this should be a basic requirement. The system your provider uses can make or break the efficiencies of your program. Legacy systems can be limiting, especially as the industry increasingly demands interoperability. Disruptions in services can be detrimental to both patient and HCP experience, as both sets of end users have high expectations of what their experience should be. Your patient and HCP experiences should never be affected by system limitations. We recommend a partner with two or more geographically different locations, preferably in different time zones, so disruptions can be compensated by a second location.
3. Are you experiencing increased volume that your program can’t seem to keep up with?
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on a national health crisis and resulted in economic changes in many patients’ lives. As such, there is an increased need for patient solutions services that offer some form of financial assistance. Many life sciences companies are seeing an increase in demand for patient assistance program (PAP) services, bridge volume, copay program use and other forms of financial assistance.
These patients will need rapid PAP screening and enrollment through multiple channels to avoid therapy disruption. Tools to meet patients where they are may include:
- — mobile-friendly, self-service patient engagement sites
- — phone processes
- — mobile-delivered PAP coupon or voucher
Each of the above should be capabilities your patient solutions provider offers, and they should proactively advise you on the necessity. You may also notice your bridge volume and copay programs increasing alongside your PAP. Patients may be transitioning to COBRA after losing employment or experiencing reduced coverage.
Your patient solutions provider should also be able to easily adapt to the changing landscape the industry faces. As the economy stabilizes and begins to improve, many unemployed or underemployed individuals will begin to regain employment. There may then be thousands of PAP patients who become ineligible. Your patient solutions provider should offer a solution that can rapidly identify these patients and convert them to commercial product quickly and efficiently. That being said, your provider needs to also deliver exceptional experiences that build brand loyalty so that those patients stay on your their prescribed therapy once they gain coverage.
4. Is your current provider able to scale and deliver on program volume?
Beyond the increases in volume you may be experiencing as a result of COVID-19, your program should scale as your program grows and your product moves through its lifecycle. Your provider should be able to shift and balance its technology and people resources to best serve your HCPs and patients. As the product matures, there may be more opportunities to leverage automatic processes that increase speed to therapy, improve operational efficiency and let talent focus on enriching the experience. Your provider should also be able to make recommendations for which points in your product’s lifecycle these resources should be distributed.
5. Does your patient solutions provider facilitate virtual environments?
Telehealth and digital health services have always been on the precipice of transforming the industry. Since the onset of COVID-19, widespread adoption has allowed for continued care for patients during uncertain times. For now, it is unknown whether the adoption of telehealth will persist. However, it is certain that virtual interaction is here to stay, and Americans are now more comfortable in this environment. Therefore, your patient solutions provider should enable healthcare practices with tools that allow them to continue serving patients at the highest level now and moving forward.
To continue to support patients and HCPs in our new normal, many manufacturers are investing in virtual solutions, such as:
- —patient engagement sites
- —video resources
- —real-time copay and PAP enrollment
- —electronic nursing services scheduling
Your patient solutions provider should guide you on whether these interoperable solutions make sense for your brand and how to integrate them into the therapy journey. Regardless, virtualized education materials should be made available to your patients and HCPs.
In addition to tools that support HCPs, your patient solutions provider should offer tools to support your field-based teams who are now facing—and may continue to face—limited access to HCP offices. Field-based teams should be armed with real-time insights to deliver informative and valuable conversations with providers. Field teams also should be provided with virtual education materials that can be quickly and easily shared with their contacts, such as e-brochures, online videos and webinars.
If you answered yes to one or more of the questions above, you may need to consider optimizing your current program or switching patient solutions providers, especially before you need to begin guiding patients through open enrollment and reverification. Your evaluation shouldn’t be limited to determining whether your patient solutions provider meets the status quo, it should propel your brand to the next level. Now, with the entire healthcare industry adjusting to a new paradigm, those who adapt the fastest and strongest will not only improve patient access and treatment outcomes, but also capture more market share. Your patient solutions provider, who has one of the most direct customer-facing roles for your brand, should support your efforts and act as a consultative partner to provide the best experience possible to your patients and their healthcare providers.
Want to know if your PAP is fully optimized for our new normal? Or are you looking for new ways to reach your patients and providers? Use the button below to start a conversation.