Acceleration of innovation in healthcare delivery
By Teri Burnell, PharmD, Myra Reinhardt
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an extraordinary increase in digital interactions among stakeholders—patients, providers, payers, and biopharma companies. Healthcare embraced the momentum of technology acceleration with the single objective of access to care.
Integration of technology in healthcare is here to stay and will continue to expand in ways we haven't even thought of yet. Biopharma companies must consider how they can drive change for the patient's healthcare journey.
The pandemic underscored the importance of service provider agility, optimal-touch support for complex cases, and expertise to navigate the unknown. Skilled patient services teams already used virtual communication technologies as options. The pandemic made them necessities, as patient services relied on such technologies to maintain their offerings during lockdowns.
Successful future versions of patient and provider services will rely on in-person, hybrid, or virtual approaches to remove access barriers. Patient service providers should continue to lean into providers’ needs in an agile way, respecting their clients’ communication preferences. Through the pandemic and beyond, successful patient services providers retained productivity whether their services were on-site or remote. This is how they managed through ambiguity and remained focused on biopharma business.
Agility + technology=Shorter path to therapy
2021 was the first season certain hub providers went fully remote for their annual reverification. Advanced benefit verification technology enabled this shift and supported immediate decision-making. Thanks to the ability to manage work distribution and work allocation, patient services teams successfully delivered services during this busiest time of year, all while keeping focus on clients’ business. Patient services partners who already had infrastructure in place, along with the tenacity to scale processes, efficiently stayed on top of these changes and maintained high productivity.
Payer engagement is essential early in the commercialization process, yet this was challenged during the pandemic without face-to-face meetings. Some payers may still not be seeing their account teams on a regular basis. Biopharma companies, therefore, came to rely more on digital platforms to engage with payers. Through such platforms, biopharma companies and healthcare decision can compliantly share product information early via pre-approval information exchange (PIE).
Patient services rely on technology to automate tasks ranging from medication refill requests to the most complex benefits verifications. Artificial intelligence-powered tools can complete verification calls, freeing up team members for personal patient engagement.
Advances in technology have helped shorten onboarding times for patients, in some cases taking days out of the path to therapy. With real-time benefits verification, providers are enabled to begin treatment right away, without worrying if the chosen therapies will be covered under the patient's insurance plan. Field team members can use the actionable insights provided by technology to uncover remaining barriers to access and discuss these gaps with providers.
Beyond access, predictive analytics helps identify potential adherence barriers by identifying which patients are at greatest risk for non-adherence and would therefore benefit from an intervention. Non-adherence is a true area of concern, with an estimated 40-50 percent of patients with chronic diseases not taking their medication as prescribed.1 Ensuring that patients get and stay on therapy with as few obstacles as possible requires the optimal touch along with technology. Biopharma companies need a partner who balances staffing and educational needs with the right technology tools.
Uncovering stories told in dataA patient support program, augmented by AI technology, identifies at-risk patients in need of highly personalized support to overcome the barrier to therapy initiation and adherence. Such data-led solutions help biopharma companies deliver a personalized approach to patient support.
Advancements in data align with high-tech and optimal touch solutions to inform decision-making. Data is everywhere in the healthcare journey, and the right patient services partner uses it across the full product lifecycle to support patients. Interpreting and applying data will ultimately elevate patient outcomes and inform further innovation. The ability to provide advanced data and analytics that uncover hidden trends from structured and unstructured data is a differentiator.
Resourceful patient services also use data and AI-based solutions to inform treatments. In one example, real-world evidence was used to overcome resistance to an innovative glaucoma product. Glaucoma is associated with very severe consequences and high cost if left untreated. In the United States, the per-person cost of treating glaucoma is approximately $2,150 annually, with higher costs among patients over age 65.2
Data was used to demonstrate advantages of decreasing vision loss with new formulation through better adherence. Through the analysis, a newer formulation was shown to improve outcomes and lower costs. By relying on the right data in the right situations, patient services partners can demonstrate their expertise.
As we move into a post-pandemic future, the emphasis turns to extending the momentum of technology adoption and working in new ways to better support patients. Biopharma companies realize the value of working with a commercialization partner who has the infrastructure to help minimize business disruptions and the capacity and expertise to fluidly use data to inform decision-making across all aspects of business.
- Are digital technologies a significant part of your patient support strategy?
- Are your processes agile - flexing to meet the needs of your patient population, one unique patient at a time?
- Patients looking for healthcare to have convenience, communication, assistance, and personalization
- How are you using data to inform your commercialization strategy?
1. Unlocking patient access and product success in a digital healthcare world. Fierce Pharma. 23 May 2022. Accessed 9 Nov 2022. Available at: https://www.fiercepharma.com/sponsored/leveraging-tech-patient-and-product-success-digital-healthcare-world
2. Wittenborn, J and Rein, D. Cost of vision problems: The economic burden of vision loss and eye disorders in the United States. NORC at the University of Chicago. Apr 2020. Accessed 9 Nov 2022. Available at: https://preventblindness.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Economic-Burden-of-Vision-Final-Report_130611_0.pdf