Digital innovation is leading the charge to better patient outcomes

The digital revolution has transformed the healthcare industry by fundamentally reshaping how pharmaceutical manufacturers operate in portfolio planning, drug development, direct-to-patient marketing, reimbursement, brand building and other vitally important areas.

While technological innovations continue to shape and re-shape the industry on an almost daily basis, the digital transformation in healthcare is only the momentum toward the ultimate goal—improved patient outcomes.

New technologies and their applications are giving stakeholders tools to improve efficiencies, discover new business opportunities, and more importantly, build stronger relationships with patients, prescribers and payors.

For example, among the many things artificial intelligence can do is take complex and repetitive tasks and complete them faster and more efficiently. The advent of wearables and implantable medical devices gives patients, physicians and researchers a continuous data stream to help pharmaceutical companies as well as providers better understand medical conditions, responses to treatment and the factors surrounding improved outcomes.

The importance of digital innovation and expertise is particularly acute when you consider that developing a new drug through to market costs an estimated $2.6 billion. PhRMA member companies reported R&D investments in 2017 at a record $71.4 billion. Add to that the cost of marketing new drugs, which shot from $17.7 billion in 1997 to $29.9 billion by 2016.

At Lash Group, an AmerisourceBergen company, the focus is on access, adherence and affordability. Those three elements are driven by digital innovation and supported the most important elements of its services, its associates.

Technology can’t stand on its own

“You can have the greatest technology, but it can’t stand on its own,” Tommy Bramley, President of the Lash Group, said. “That’s where we really excel, being able to balance technology and our associates, and our ability to scale on both sides of the equation.”

Tommy Bramley, President of the Lash Group

One misconception of the healthcare industry is that a physician writes a script and a patient automatically gets it filled. That’s where, Bramley said, the Lash Group team comes into play.

They do a benefit verification and if the patient has insurance, it can immediately be determined if they are covered for that drug, if there is a copay and status related to a patient’s deductible. The tool also determines if there is a copay assistance program that might help the patient get the medicine, or if they don’t have insurance, whether they qualify for manufacturer-supported patient assistance programs or free-goods. AmerisourceBergen has a dedicated free-goods pharmacy based in Louisville, Kentucky, that works with manufacturers to support these types of safety net programs.

Getting a patient started on a therapy and providing access to a prescribed treatment are the first steps. Then adherence comes into play, especially with newer medications like gene therapies, which add complexity to a treatment regimen.

“We are very proud of our  unique nursing programs and recent collaborations, that digitally pair patients who are at risk of not adhering to their medications with a nurse educator or a social worker to assist,” Bramley said. “What we’re focusing on more and more are high tech options on two fronts—mobile tools that give 24-7 access and AI to help predict patient behavior, so we can identify those most at risk of non-compliance.”

One of the group’s tools is made possible through a collaboration with MediSafe, a digital engagement platform with a mobile app that helps identify patients most at risk of non-adherence. In terms of real-time pharmacy benefit verification, Lash Group offers connectivity to nearly 100% of PBMs in the U.S. by using only a minimal set of patient data to produce results.

For its manufacturers, Lash Group has developed an industry leading technology Fusion, which is a CRM ecosystem that provides stability and scalability on a data reporting platform. Manufacturers can track how their support program is working and have visibility into patient access barriers and cost sharing information in real-time.

“Our Insights Portal is used internally by manufacturers and allows them to quickly view reports that show patient volumes, access and benefit outcomes, time to therapy, etc.,” he said. “That information can then be used for executive presentations or by field teams about to visit a physician, so they can see what is happening with patients enrolled in the program from that particular office.”

Getting to the value of things

Given the huge sums of investment in developing and producing new drugs, much attention and effort is put into developing unique value propositions for products. That’s where AmerisourceBergen’s Xcenda division comes into play. Manufacturers are beginning to recognize the advantage that technology can provide in evaluating the competitive landscape and strategizing on how to best position their therapies within that environment.

“For more than 25 years, we’ve worked with manufacturers to help them demonstrate and differentiate the value of their products and clearly communicate that value to stakeholders,” Kristine Flemister, President of Xcenda, said. “In today’s increasingly complex reimbursement environment, companies are looking for more effective and impactful ways to navigate the landscape and stand out in a crowded market, and that’s where we continue to innovate.”

Kristine Flemister, President of Xcenda

For payors, formularies continue to be an integral tool that reflects whether they will provide coverage for a new drug or treatment. Historically, manufacturers have supplied evidentiary materials such as dossiers for formulary consideration in static, often hard copy format. This method has not allowed for collaborative exchange between manufacturers and payors. With Xcenda’s new digital platform, ForumlaryDecisions, payors can now access the most up-to-date clinical evidence and economic product information for informed decision-making. For manufacturers, the platform provides actionable insights on the infomraiton and value needs of payors, including how their products may compare competitively.

Xcenda also offers a number of tools to enhance the proposition process prior to a drug’s commercial launch. The Value Identification Process (VIP) 2.0. platorm allows a team to streamline the development of their value story for a new product by enabling a wider variety of stakeholders to input feedback and ideas digitally. By alleviating the challenge of gathering all necessary personnel in the same room to decipher data and discuss strategy, development time can be decreased while quality of the output is enhanced.

“Xcenda has always been ahead of the curve in understanding how to help manufacturers credibly communicate the value of their products,” Flemister said. “We also understand the need to continually innovate and leverage technology to meet our clients’ needs in the ever-evolving healthcare landscape. It’s this drive and thought leadership of our people that keep clients coming back to Xcenda as a valued partner.”

To learn more about how AmerisourceBergen is using the power of innovation and technology to bring new drugs to market visit: