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Patient Support Programs: What Are They & What They Offer 

We’ve all been there: one day you get sick and a physician prescribes multiple medications to put you back on your feet, each with specific instructions and potential side effects to monitor. On top of that, you’re faced with navigating the maze of insurance approvals, high out-of-pocket costs, and a general lack of understanding about your own treatment options and plan, all while being sick and dazed. Sounds familiar and quite overwhelming, doesn’t it?

This is the reality for many patients, which is why an increasing number of pharmaceutical companies are rolling out Patient Support Programs (PSPs) — comprehensive initiatives designed to empower and guide individuals through their healthcare journeys. These programs go beyond just providing medication, they offer a multifaceted approach to supporting patients from diagnosis to managing their condition long-term.

Let us take a closer look at the Patient Support Programs, their development and implementation process, the different types, challenges they face, and their future within healthcare delivery.

What are Patient Support Programs (PSPs)?

Patient Support Programs (PSPs) are initiatives, that often come in the form of custom mobile apps, offered by pharmaceutical companies to provide education, resources, and services to patients prescribed certain medications or undergoing specific treatments.

Source: Deloitte, Common patient support activities

At their core, patient support programs aim to break down common barriers that hinder successful treatment outcomes. Many PSPs provide financial assistance, copay assistance, or free drug supplies for eligible patients. Patients struggling with adherence will find medication reminders, symptom trackers, and direct nurse support lines. Educational resources and counseling services are available to help patients better understand their condition and regimen to avoid confusion.

But PSPs don’t just benefit patients, they’re a strategic investment for pharmaceutical companies as well. By enhancing medication adherence and persistence, PSPs drive increased product utilization and revenue. They also allow companies to collect invaluable real-world data, build brand loyalty, and demonstrate a genuine commitment to improving lives beyond the bottom line.

How Pharma Companies Can Implement Patient Support Programs

Source: IQVIA

To develop the best-in-class patient support programs, you need to collaborate closely with stakeholders like business strategists, and medical, pharmacovigilance, and sales teams.

  • Program development — Pharma companies first identify medications or disease areas that would benefit from enhanced patient support. They assess the needs of those patient populations and design the services or resources to be offered through the PSP. This includes any financial assistance, educational materials, app development, nurse counseling services, other features.
  • Contracting vendors — Many pharma companies outsource part or all of the PSP operations to specialty vendors and third-party service providers. These vendors are contracted to handle tasks like operating call centers, distributing copay cards, developing apps and websites, and providing nursing staff.
  • Data integration — The patient support services generate valuable data that needs to be integrated back to the pharma companies. This requires building data platforms and processes to aggregate information from vendors on patient demographics, medication utilization, clinical outcomes, and patient-reported data.
  • Enrollment channels — Pharmaceutical companies work to create easy enrollment channels so patients can access the PSP. This includes physician outreach so providers can refer patients, as well as direct-to-patient channels like websites and call centers.
  • Staff training — On the pharma side, internal staff like sales reps and medical liaisons are trained on the details of the PSP offerings so they can appropriately educate providers and patients.
  • Patient outreach — Pharma companies conduct direct-to-patient outreach and marketing to drive awareness and utilization of the PSP services. Tactics like social media, targeted advertising, and advocacy group partnerships are employed.
  • Metrics and analysis — PSP performance is measured through ongoing data analysis of metrics like program enrollment, persistency rates, patient satisfaction surveys, and ROI calculations looking at the PSP’s impact on medication adherence.
  • Continuous improvement — Based on patient feedback and operational data, pharma companies continually refine and enhance their patient support program offerings over time to optimize their investments in these comprehensive patient support initiatives.

While PSPs require significant cross-functional coordination, pharmaceutical companies see them as valuable pharma marketing tools for improving product performance and patient outcomes.

Types of Patient Support Programs

PSPs differ based on the therapeutic sector and particular medications, however, their main goal is to provide access and help patients overcome barriers to healthcare access and adherence, ultimately improving their health outcomes.

Patient assistance programs

Patient assistance programs are mainly offered in the U.S. to lessen the financial burdens and help patients and their caregivers get the medication. These programs help review the current insurance coverage, assist with prior authorization if needed, provide trial and copay card information, and check if a patient is eligible to enroll in a financial assistance program. 

Patient education programs

Patient education programs aim to improve patients’ and caregivers’ understanding of the disease and the medication or devices that treat it. Patients and caregivers can receive instructional assistance from medical providers over the phone or via digital platforms. In addition, medical writers create patient-friendly visual educational materials. Patient education also entails adherence outreach meaning patients are followed up to share their experiences and struggles in order to be assisted and encouraged to stay adherent.

Provider support

A crucial strategy of patient support programs is equipping healthcare providers with resources to streamline patient access to medications and enhance education. Programs supply providers with sample products, device demos, FAQ materials, visual guides, copay cards, financial assistance info, and more. This allows providers to initiate therapy seamlessly. Additionally, PSPs assist providers by providing billing and coding support to ensure proper reimbursement for medication administration services.

Challenges Associated with PSPs for Pharma

Different types of PSPs offer a wide variety of benefits to life science businesses and healthcare facilities. So why doesn’t every company and clinic just use one? Well, there are certain challenges to implementing patient support programs that we must look at.

  • One major challenge is the substantial cost and resource intensiveness involved in developing and operating comprehensive PSPs. Funding components like call centers, copay assistance, technology solutions, and nursing staff support can be extremely costly, especially when trying to scale these programs.
  • Integrating data from multiple vendors and platforms delivering PSP services is technically complex. Creating unified views of the patient journey and outcomes requires robust data management capabilities.
  • Ensuring regulatory compliance around areas like product promotion, privacy, data sharing, and avoiding improper inducements is also an ever-present obligation. PSPs have to meticulously follow the rules and implement tight compliance processes to steer clear of any violations.
  • Quantifying the return on investment is another major hurdle. While PSPs aim to improve medication adherence and overall outcomes, pinpointing their precise impact is difficult given the many variables at play in disease management.
  • Even with promotional efforts, driving patient awareness and adoption of PSP offerings can be an uphill battle, particularly among harder-to-reach populations. Personalizing the experience to diverse patient needs, health literacies, and preferences is resource-intensive.
  • Coordinating priorities and sharing data among all the stakeholders — pharma companies, providers, payers, and vendors — adds another layer of complexity with so many parties involved. Sustaining long-term engagement is tough too, as patients’ circumstances continually evolve. And in an increasingly crowded PSP market, differentiating your program and delivering a truly superior experience gets more challenging by the day.

Overcoming these hurdles demands strategic long-term planning, investments in robust technology platforms, effective vendor management, and a commitment to continually enhancing offerings based on real-world insights over time. It’s a major undertaking, but one that pharmaceutical companies are prioritizing to support patients and steward their product portfolios effectively.

Future of PSPs in Custom App Development

There’s no denying the growing demand for digital patient services in the pharmaceutical industry these days. 48% of adults are already using or interested in pharma’s digital offerings, and a whopping 68% of physicians are more likely to prescribe a product backed by solid patient support and services. Pharmaceutical companies clearly recognize this trend, with most, if not all, rolling out various digital engagement programs in recent years.

And it’s not just about checking boxes anymore. New technologies are opening up fresh channels and enabling more holistic, comprehensive patient support initiatives. A recent study highlighted a clear shift away from that transactional mindset focused solely on enrollment and training. Instead, there’s a move towards more collaborative, integrated programs laser-focused on truly empowering patients to live well with their conditions. Think tailored interventions, behavior modification, and support extending to caregivers and beyond.

These trends, coupled with digital innovations and better access to patient data, present an exciting opportunity for pharma. They can now craft bespoke healthcare solutions finely tuned to the unique needs of different patient groups in a targeted, value-additive way. And the potential upsides are huge — online disease management services have been shown to improve chronic care outcomes by up to 10%.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, patients crave simplicity and customization so they can take ownership of their wellness journey. They want solutions intuitive enough to fully participate in their own care. By tapping into new technologies, pharma can finally deliver on those desires with patient-centric digital offerings that resonate on a personal level.

Patient support programs by themselves do not drive differentiation or boost trust and engagement. Programs have to be well-designed and provide patients with personalization. Fortunately, the technology is there to help pharmaceutical companies achieve these goals. If you want to develop a user-friendly custom healthcare app to boost your patient support program, don’t hesitate to contact Viseven. We have nearly 20 years of experience in pharma solutions development and can make your vision a reality.

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