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Preparing pharma’s patient services to thrive in the protean healthcare landscape

28 Sep 2023
A dedicated focus on rare diseases and the growing investments in specialty medicine launches have prompted pharma companies to deliver nuanced and bespoke patient support programs. Over the years, these programs have undergone a remarkable evolution, driven by technological advancements, improved access to data around evolving patient needs, and a prominent shift in pharma’s approach toward patient-centricity. This evolution is not a mere industry shift; it represents a fundamental change in how pharma companies perceive and interact with patients on their healthcare journeys.

Key Challenges in Pharma’s Patient Services

Before we dig deeper into expert insights, let us understand the key challenges that impact the effective implementation and utilization of patient support programs (PSPs).
  • Accessibility and complexity: PSPs that are not accessible or do not provide an engaging, user-friendly, digital-first experience can deter participation from both HCPs and patients.​

    Internal constraints and regulations: PSPs may have broader scope which may lead to misunderstandings when taken up with internal cross-functional teams or regulators. Moreover, legal and regulatory compliance variations across regions can affect the implementation of PSPs. ​

    Perceived lack of benefit: Often, patients and HCPs may fail to see the tangible benefits of participating in PSPs, including improved patient adherence and disease management.​

    Lack of awareness and understanding: A significant percentage of patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs) are either unaware of the existing PSPs or do not completely comprehend the clinical or financial support available. This gap in knowledge limits the success of such programs. ​

At the Indegene Digital Summit, Mark Materacky (Novo Nordisk), Anthony Scatamacchia (Sanofi Genzyme), and Nicole Dunn (Ipsen) explored the recent trends that are remodelling pharma’s patient services and discussed some of the key opportunities for pharma companies to deliver a best-in-class patient experience.

Strategies for improving patient experience

The key highlights of the session are summarized below.

Unlocking the potential of EHR integration

Electronic Health Records (EHR) can offer several benefits to pharmaceutical companies, including access to a well-spring of real-world data around patient needs and treatment patterns, efficient drug safety monitoring, tailored medication management, and enhanced patient engagement, to name a few. However, EHR integration presents unique challenges, such as data privacy and security concerns, data quality issues, and the need for interoperability between different EHR systems.
Anthony Scatamacchia urged pharma companies to reconsider their approach toward EHR integration, considering the program's size, scope, and the product's maturity stage before defining goals and creating systems to navigate challenges and fully utilize the benefits of EHR integration.
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EHR integration is not as much a technical or regulatory challenge specifically as it is making sure that you are very specific on the product profile you are trying to solve for and the associated challenges that you are trying to help address.
– Anthony Scatamacchia

To spend or not to spend: The real dilemma limiting automation

Automation holds tremendous potential to streamline and scale program operations and boost program performance to drive superior health outcomes among patients. The substantial monetary investments associated with deploying it, however, can often limit pharma companies from exploiting its full potential. Nicole Dunn highlighted that the data insights and downstream cost savings driven by automation can offset the one-time upfront cost for automating workflows and data aggregation. Automation, if leveraged wisely and in compliance with regularity norms, can empower pharma companies to forecast labor needs accurately, plan and budget more effectively, drive significant cost savings, and create a best-in-class experience for patients and internal teams working on the systems.
The one-time upfront cost to automate things like workflows and data aggregation can more than pay for itself in data insights and can significantly optimize the resources generating those downstream cost savings.
– Nicole Dunn

Insourcing vs. outsourcing: The best-suited sourcing model for patient support programs

Over the years, pharma companies have engaged multiple external vendors to implement and scale their patient support programs. However, the growing concerns around high costs, inconsistent workflows, data confidentiality risks, and disparate technologies utilized among vendors have prompted life sciences companies to build their capabilities and insource program operations.
Nicole Dunn suggested that organizations do not have to choose between the two models and could in fact experiment with a hybrid approach that blends the best of both worlds. There cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to defining sourcing strategies for patient support programs. Ultimately, the best-fit sourcing model for any organization will align with their business objectives, suit their economic needs, and most importantly, help them address dynamic patient needs in a scalable and sustainable manner.
The decision does not have to be one or the other… It can be a hybrid of insourcing and outsourcing, quilted and orchestrated together to take the best of both options.
– Nicole Dunn

Deciphering the intricacies and impact of personalization

For a while now, personalization has been a trending buzzword in the life sciences industry. And while organizations have invested tremendous efforts and funds into driving personalization across the spectrum, understanding its true impact is crucial.
Mark Materacky emphasized that personalization significantly impacts patient services by fostering retention and building brand loyalty over time. He also recommended that manufacturers innovate to anticipate critical pain points along the patient journey and devise programs that address these issues in the most creative ways. This will enable them to deliver programs that surpass patient expectations and yield the best possible patient and business outcomes.
Whether you can get to exact one-to-one personalization or present the perception of personalization through robust audience insights, the impact from a patient service standpoint is in retention. And that retention builds brand loyalty in due time.
– Mark Materacky

To draw it all together

There is a lot of diversity in the nature, design, and scope of patient support programs delivered by pharma companies. However, their end goals remain constant: improving patient outcomes, enhancing satisfaction, and supporting patients in managing their health effectively. By leveraging the power of automation, selecting the best-fit operating model, and most importantly, delivering innovative solutions personalized to distinct patient needs, pharma organizations can consistently achieve these goals while driving superior business outcomes.

Experts’ thoughts on keeping pace with patient service opportunities

Insights to build #FutureReadyHealthcare