The pace of transformation in healthcare continues to accelerate—fueled, in part, by the continued emergence of innovative pharmaceutical products and the increased adoption of digital solutions that expedite patient access to therapies and expand how, and where, care can be delivered.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 triggered an almost instantaneous pivot to virtual care and led to widespread embrace of a variety of digital solutions, such as remote monitoring and digital engagement platforms. Even after the pandemic lifts, there is no question the digitization of the healthcare industry is here to stay. The question is how can the industry continue to innovate and leverage digital solutions to better serve patients?
“Patients today face new access and affordability challenges throughout the treatment journey,” said Myra Reinhardt, Vice President of Product Innovation at AmerisourceBergen’s Lash Group, a market leader in patient support services. “We continue to increase our use of digital solutions, such as AI-driven technology, to reduce patient barriers, accelerate speed-to-therapy and provide a more seamless experience for patients and providers.”
Expanding Access through Innovative Solutions and Technology
Healthcare players across the industry are coming together to make patient experiences simpler, more coordinated and, ultimately, more effective. To achieve that goal, there is an increased focus on expanding patient access to products and making clinical trials more accessible.
The pandemic has acted as a catalyst for change within the clinical trial landscape, expediting the broader implementation of the decentralized clinical trial model. In fact, in 2020, AmerisourceBergen’s World Courier, a global specialty logistics provider, saw its daily volume of direct-to-patient shipments jump by more than 5x its pre-pandemic average as the company delivered to 75 countries worldwide. To support the surging growth of decentralized trials in the United States, Lash Group’s team of nurses delivered more in-home visits to safely support the completion of clinical trial protocols—whether it’s investigational medical product (IMP) preparation or administration, sample collection and processing, or biometric screening and monitoring.
By bringing therapies and customized care directly into homes, trial sponsors can improve patient recruitment and retention and, more importantly, expand access to a broader and more diverse range of patients. That is particularly significant given that about 70 percent of potential trial participants live more than two hours away from study centers.
AmerisourceBergen is leveraging its scale and capabilities, including its research community AdvanceIQ Network, to advance efforts to broaden the pool of potential clinical trial participants and extend studies deeper into the community setting. The company recently launched its Clinical Trial Navigator platform, which unites oncology practices within the AdvanceIQ Network and their patients with trials through digital site selection, patient identification and enrollment tools. Through the solution, companies can enter key protocol criteria to identify relevant practice sites and their ideal patient populations, and then refine their search by applying advanced filters or adding biomarkers or treatment regimens that patients must have received to qualify for a trial.
“Historically, it has been difficult for biopharmaceutical companies to have a consolidated and holistic view of independent specialty practices and their patient populations, and, as a result, clinical trial enrollment and logistics in these care settings have been complex and difficult to execute,” said Jennifer Sherak, SVP & President of Specialty Physician Services, AmerisourceBergen. “With Clinical Trial Navigator, we want to break down these barriers for biopharma companies, bring more clinical trials into communities nationwide, help broaden the patient populations being considered for trials, and ultimately advance accrual time and bring therapies to market faster. By creating this connectivity, we also hope to generate more equitable and accessible trial opportunities for underrepresented communities."
Leveraging Predictive Analytics to Power Adherence
As the industry continues its drive toward patient-centricity, companies continue to seek opportunities to deploy new solutions or leverage technology to help patients start and stay on prescribed therapies. Advances in technology have helped to compress the onboarding time for patients by expediting the prior authorization and benefits investigations process. For example, Reinhardt said, Lash Group’s electronic benefit verification offering (eBV) includes real-time results in seconds in addition to a digital assistant, which uses AI and natural language recognition to make automated payer calls for certain cases—helping patients get results in minutes to hours instead of days.
Medication nonadherence remains a pressing health issue globally, with reports showing that as many as 40 to 50 percent of patients with chronic diseases don’t take their medication as prescribed. While a number of factors contribute to nonadherence, a recent study showed three in 10 adults didn’t take their medication as prescribed because of the cost.
While there is no one-size-fits all approach, the use of predictive analytics can help identify which patients are at the highest risk of nonadherence and would benefit from an intervention.
“That’s the value of predictive analytics because now I can find and target the right patients I need to work with,” said Dale Hanna, Director of Product Strategy at AmerisourceBergen. “That’s the kind of ‘touch’ we want that can help create a behavior change for a better health outcome while also allowing our team of nurses to be more efficient and effective in supporting all patients.”
As significant as the digital adoption has been, the nursing support—and human touch—is equally important, Hanna said. The company continues to expand its team of nurses, who help patients manage complex medication regiments or delivery methods by providing in-home or virtual education and training.
“We are in this business to understand what matters most to patients, and that is quality of life,” said Hanna. “Our team of nurses, coupled with technology, enable us to meet patients where they are and provide real-time, personalized support.”
To learn more about how AmerisourceBergen is innovating help biopharmaceutical companies unlock product potential and accelerate patient access, visit: https://www.amerisourcebergen.com/manufacturer-solutions