In this post, we’ll unpack our recommendations for a best practice approach that will ensure the maximum number of patients enroll in a patient support program.
Patient services and patient support programs (PSPs) have a proven impact on both improved health outcomes and the patient experience. But a simple fact remains: even the best adherence program is only successful if a patient enrolls in the program.
Enrollment is even more critical because only about two-thirds of patients who are prescribed a medication will actually fill the prescription. While there are numerous reasons why patients decide not to start on a drug, a well designed PSP can help many of these patients initiate therapy.
Improving enrollment in PSPs requires a disciplined strategy. In this post, we’ll unpack our recommendations for a best practice approach that will ensure the maximum number of patients enroll.
Start with a Strong Messaging Foundation
Before rolling out your enrollment strategy, spend time developing a messaging strategy that will resonate with healthcare professionals (HCPs) and clearly explain the benefits to the patient experience.
Your messaging strategy must support the two key components of your overall enrollment strategy: promotion and the enrollment process. Your messaging approach needs to support both. We recommend considering the following as you build out that strategy:
How the PSP improves the patient experience — In addition to the obvious boost to adherence and therefore health outcomes, think through how to communicate to physicians the other ways your program improves the patient experience. A very simple example would be having a nurse available to guide patients through the entire treatment process which will give patients confidence they may not otherwise have.
How the PSP supports the HCP’s goals with the patient — It's essential that you spend some time working out the specific benefits to HCPs. The most obvious one is that you’re helping the patient in following the HCP’s instructions. You also likely need to think through how you will avoid contradicting the recommendations of the HCP.
How the PSP overcomes known barriers surrounding the therapy — If there are known barriers to taking your medication, make sure you prepare specific messaging about how the PSP will empower patients to overcome those barriers.
Enrollment Starts with Promotion
An HCP who believes in the effectiveness of your PSP will be your strongest ally. They will get the word out about your therapy and increase the number of patients participating in the PSP.
A biopharma manufacturer's strongest link to the HCP is through sales reps. Once you’ve nailed down your messaging strategy, you should spend time training your reps about the PSP and incentivizing them to promote it so that the PSP becomes an integral part of their overall pitch for the therapy when they communicate with HCPs. It’s also helpful to think through how to leverage other physical touch points like promotional materials and promotion samples of drugs to ensure they emphasize the PSP and its unique benefits. Digital strategies like advertising to HCPs through EMR banner ads can be leveraged as well.
While working directly with the HCP will often encompass the majority of your promotional activities, you should also ensure that your website has information about the PSP, as well as any place your patients could potentially visit to learn more about the therapy such as social media groups. To begin the process of educating patients, be sure to include the benefits of the PSP and any other relevant info from your messaging strategy.
The bottom line throughout all promotion activities is to emphasize the improvements to the patient experience that your PSP provides.
Create Multiple Opportunities for Enrollment
The second step of an effective enrollment strategy is the actual enrollment process. Our advice to any biopharma manufacturer looking to increase participation in their PSPs is to create as many opportunities for enrollment as possible. Not everyone will come through the same channel, so you need to provide compelling opportunities wherever possible.
Any successful PSP enrollment effort must emphasize the three fundamental enrollment techniques that have proven to be the most effective for specialty therapies. These include:
Copay subsidy enrollments — Because many of these therapies have significant costs, copay subsidies (copay cards) provide a significant motivation for enrollment in the PSP.
Hub enrollments — Patients should be guided through the enrollment process when they contact the Hub for reimbursement assistance.
Specialty pharmacy enrollments — When patients contact the specialty pharmacy to get their therapy, they should be offered the chance to enroll in a PSP that will help guide them through the day-to-day experience while taking the therapy. In this approach manufacturers contract with the SP to support patient enrollment in the PSP.
Although the vast majority of enrollments will be driven through the three tactics described above, our experience has been that there are benefits to supporting those fundamental tactics with other approaches, including online, phone, and text messaging.
Another enrollment channel that can be highly effective is to achieve an integration with electronic medical records (EMRs) that allow enrollment to occur at the time of prescription. While this is potentially the most effective enrollment strategy and would dramatically increase the participation of patients in PSPs, it continues to be unattainable for most therapies because of the lack of consolidation of EMRs and the technical constraints involved.
Whatever your approach, remember to take the time to craft an effective enrollment strategy. Enrollment is more critical than ever and it’s imperative that the highest percentage of these patients enroll in the PSP to achieve the strongest results.
To learn more about how biopharma companies are looking to improve the patient experience, download our 2020 Patient Services Report