The number of uninsured Americans is on the rise for the first time since the Affordable Care Act took effect; 27.5 million had no health insurance in 2018, up from 25.6 million the previous year. Even among the insured, high-deductible health plans, increasing drug costs and other forces at play have made it hard or impossible for many to afford specialty medications and treatment plans.
In this difficult consumer environment, biopharmaceutical companies’ investment in free drug programs is more important than ever, particularly for uninsured, underinsured or low-income patients who need access and long-term adherence to expensive specialty therapies. Patient assistance programs, which allow biopharma to offer eligible patients drugs at reduced or no cost, are important for the survival of both patients and brands. That makes finding the right program key.
In a crowded marketplace, biopharma should look for three identifiers when evaluating potential partners to administer a fully integrated patient assistance program that addresses access, adherence and affordability: quality customer experience, proven clinical expertise and strategic program design and scalability.
Quality Customer Experience
Patient assistance programs must serve the customer experience of both their client — the brand — and its patients. That means delivering on operational excellence, dispense accuracy, turnaround times and any other unique quality metrics. A truly excellent experience is achieved through constant program optimization, leveraging best-in-class technology and providing consultation and partnership.
A driving force behind RxCrossroads by McKesson’s high performance in this field is an operational excellence team that continuously monitors and evaluates processes and programs to ensure that clients’ KPIs are met and exceeded. This group teams up with the patient assistance program manager to identify gaps, perform a root-cause analysis and then design and implement a corrective strategy.
Technology is also key. RxCrossroads’ program pharmacy’s best-in-class automated-dispensing technology reduces error rates, improves efficiencies and ultimately accelerates time to therapy, helping patients live healthier lives. Last year, the program pharmacy achieved a 99.97% on-time-delivery rate and a .0048% fulfillment-error rate, according to RxCrossroads data.
Biopharma companies should feel confident that they and their patients are in good hands. Preferably, a dedicated patient assistance program manager will oversee their program’s administration, serve as a trusted liaison and troubleshoot if the need arises. At RxCrossroads, program managers also serve as consultants, offering advice and recommendations for fine-tuning programs to better align with the brand’s goals and reach more patients.
Frontline employees must also provide a high level of care to patients and physicians. Empathy, attention to detail and outstanding interpersonal skills are essential to administering these programs and putting healthcare professionals and patients at ease.
Above all, in order to implement a patient assistance program successfully, administrators must have the clinical experience and knowledge to understand individual therapies, therapeutic areas and patients.
Since specialty therapies can cause side effects and toxicities, and regimens can be complex, many companies require high-touch patient support services from a program pharmacy team with therapeutic area-specific expertise. The team will serve as a point of contact for patients and physicians to help mitigate side effects, address dosing issues, prevent adverse events and support adherence.
RxCrossroads’ program pharmacy has leveraged the company’s leadership in oncology services and adapted their oncology quality and safety protocols for other chronic and complex diseases. This ability to modify by therapeutic area extends to full customizability and scalability by client.
Strategic Program Design and Scalability
Strategic patient assistance programs must be equipped with processes, systems, support and logistics to meet brands’ and patients’ unique needs.
Even with the best market forecasting, it’s difficult to predict how a product will perform. The ability to start small and scale up — through technology, automation, customization and flexibility in program design — allows brands to meet post-market demands such as secondary indications and other developments. Therefore, a scalable model, supported by an excellent recruitment and training team, is crucial for enabling expansion.
In order to build outstanding support and administrative teams as programs expand, RxCrossroads places experienced associates alongside talented new recruits so the team can grow with the program and easily transfer knowledge.
Ultimately, every patient assistant program should be unique, just as every brand, every therapy and every patient is unique. The right partner will provide a strategic, individualized program to support biopharma companies and ensure the best patient outcomes. For biopharma, supporting patients through their journey is a challenging, multifactorial process; finding the right patient assistance program shouldn’t be.
RxCrossroads offers the quality customer experience, proven clinical expertise and strategic program design and scalability that enables biopharma companies to bring their therapies to more patients. Learn how our program pharmacy could help you achieve your goals.