Treatment journeys — especially those involving specialty medications — can be complex and arduous. Patient support programs (PSP) are meant to serve as trusted guides that help patients through the process, simplifying each step and removing barriers to successful treatment.
Whether providing education, resources, or emotional support, a PSP can make all the difference in helping patients achieve their health goals. By delivering seamless patient experiences, a PSP ultimately enables improved health outcomes. But if not well-designed and managed, a program risks becoming yet another source of complexity and confusion.
What makes a program successful in creating seamless treatment journeys? While there are nuances by therapy, the best share much in common — namely, these five hallmarks of highly effective patient support programs.
1. Clear strategies for provider education and patient enrollment
A thorough understanding of treatment journeys is crucial in helping patients overcome obstacles. Highly effective programs also address two critical, but often overlooked, legs of any journey: provider education and patient enrollment. They craft a strategy for proactively educating providers about the program and its benefits as well as implement thoughtful communication strategies to make patients aware of the program — and design processes that make it easy and convenient to enroll.
2. Right-sized, fit-for-purpose technology
Technology has a clear role to play in PSPs, and it can be tempting to look to a new platform as a patient support panacea. But highly effective teams know that implementing a new system is not what’s most important — and that a new platform with costly customizations may not be the wisest path. Instead, they view tech as an enabler and seek fit-for-purpose solutions. Investing in highly targeted tools and improving integrations and workflows can be faster, more efficient paths to desired results.
3. Services orchestrated around patient needs, not program siloes
Many programs are built with best-of-breed components, which can fuel a disjointed patient experience and erode operational efficiency. Highly effective teams do not focus on each component in isolation. Instead, they consider the value of an integrated approach — which translates into fewer handoffs in serving patients and providers. They arm their nurses and clinical staff with insights and train them on how to engage with patients in those make-or-break moments. This commitment to integration of people, process, and technology yields an environment optimized for more tailored support.
4. Performance metrics that translate into patient actions
Measuring performance through a patient lens requires more than traditional call center metrics like call volume or handle time. Highly effective programs aim to measure key outcomes, such as time to get on therapy or improvement in patient experience, and health outcomes after enrolling in the PSP. Additionally, these programs use insights and analytics to optimize and enhance patient experience and close gaps between care team education and patient actions. Examples include simplifying an FAQ to make it more understandable or monitoring patient sentiment during phone interactions and triggering prompt, tailored follow-up.
5. Artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) to discern diverse needs and personalize support
Highly effective programs build a plan for using data to move beyond “averages” and deliver services personalized to individual needs and preferences. Predictive analytics powered by AI/ML can yield an understanding of where patients are likely to hit delays or give up altogether. With these insights, it becomes possible to use triggers and alerts to deliver targeted support in the moments that matter to patients.
In addition, highly effective PSPs can apply AI/ML to data from electronic health records and wearables and self-reported patient data to reach and engage diverse populations. They ensure that they address the data governance, privacy risk assessments, and informed consent requirements needed to make use of this information. With that in place, programs can support a variety of other goals — including detecting early signs of disease to enable early intervention, optimizing treatment plans to reduce adverse events, and allocating resources more efficiently by predicting patients' needs and thus improving the overall patient experience.
How many of these hallmarks apply to your PSP? Where do you see opportunities to become more strategic, more integrated, and more intentional about how you communicate with and engage patients? IQVIA offers services and solutions to help brands sculpt seamless patient experiences as they build or improve a patient engagement program.
Jaime Thompson, Senior Vice President of Patient Support Services, MedTech, and Contract Sales, IQVIA
Jenn Millard, Vice President & General Manager, U.S. Integrated Patient Support,IQVIA
Michael Zilligen, General Manager, In-Home Clinical Solutions, IQVIA