5 Takeaways from the PAP 2020 Conference

by Yishai Knobel,

The annual Patient Assistance & Access Programs (PAP) 2020 Conference looked a little different this year. In response to COVID19, this year’s theme was improving prescription access and affordability for patients across all therapies. 

As conference participants with our own virtual booth, our team had the opportunity to interact with other pharma leaders and see what programs, technologies, innovations and strategies were at the forefront. We found the panelists’ content and insights to be immensely valuable, and are excited to share our top 5 takeaways with you.

Top 5 takeaways:

1. Patient affordability continues to play a critical role in medication non-adherence.

In his keynote address, Ezekiel Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D., the Vice Provost of Global Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, cited some startling statistics (KFF Health Tracking Poll):

  • 24% of patients say it is difficult to afford the cost of their prescription medicine.
  • This percentage increases to 58% for those spending $100+ per month on Rx and 35% for those taking 4+ drugs.

HelpAround Take: With unemployment and financial fears growing amidst the COVID19 pandemic, providing easy access to patient financial assistance programs is necessary. Offering easy, digital access to copay Cards or seamless enrollment into these programs is vital to assuaging patient fears and decreasing their time-to-therapy.

Recommended Recordings:
– Keynote Address: Examine Pending Health Policy Changes and the Impact on Patient Affordability & Access
– Patient Perspectives on Current and Future Access Challenges

2. Build it (digitally), and they will come—provided you have an excellent UX.

The pandemic has made the seemingly impossible, possible—the rapid adoption of digital solutions by pharma manufacturers. In his keynote address, Tommy Bramley, President of Lash Group, remarked that COVID19 has spurred the quick patient adoption of digital tools, including uploading forms on mobile devices and digital connection with nurse educators.

HelpAround Take: This is huge. Pharma brands have expressed concern over the utilization of digital tools by their patients, but our experience is that, if a tool solves a real problem and is easy to use, patients will use it. The key lies in the UX—why we devote so much time to it. Providing an excellent user experience marked by intentional, intuitive design is critical to ensuring high patient and caregiver utilization during onboarding and beyond.

Recommended Recordings:
– Keynote Address: Navigating COVID19: Simplifying the Path to Better Patient Outcomes
– Patient Perspectives on Current and Future Access Challenges

3. The era of “desktop-only” and “barely-mobile” is overthe digital solutions of tomorrow need to be multi-channel and easily accessible.

A common theme throughout the conference was the idea of offering multi-channel experiences: Patients should be able to access PAP programs through multiple channels—desktop, mobile, mobile web and SMS—in addition to in-person. Pharma’s excuse, “Our current processes work for us,” is no longer viable in today’s world, when patients demand greater flexibility than before.

HelpAround Take: While it isn’t glamorous, investing in digital document management—i.e. mobile enrollment, e-consent, e-signature and more—will make HCP and patient workflows faster, easier and increasingly automated. Industry-wide adoption of e-consent—lauded by many panelists as safe and secure—may be one of the great legacies of the pandemic.

Recommended Recordings:
– Keynote Address: Navigating COVID19: Simplifying the Path to Better Patient Outcomes
– Foster Collaborations to Speed Access and Lower Costs
– Q&A: PAPs 101: Key Components of Developing Successful PAPs

4. Building patient trust means building transparency.

Patients may know precisely where their Amazon order is—and yet, be completely clueless on where they stand in their Prior Authorization (PA) process, or how much longer they have to wait until their meds arrive.

When it comes to equipping specialty patients with insights into where they are in their patient journey, pharma companies have fallen disappointingly short. Several solutions have attempted to solve one piece of the puzzle. Very few (if any) have offered the full connectivity required to give patients easy access to their healthcare journey information in one place.

HelpAround Take: Whether it’s PA updates, med shipping notifications, appointment reminders, refill alerts, or case manager chats, patients should never feel like they’re in the dark when it comes to knowing what step they need to take next to remain on therapy. When combined with sophisticated behavioral tracking, these notifications can be meaningfully inserted into patients’ daily routines to get them and keep them on therapy.

Recommended Recordings:
– Keynote Address: Navigating COVID19: Simplifying the Path to Better Patient Outcomes
– Patient Perspectives on Current and Future Access Challenges
– Access Provider & Patient Portal Utilization
– Q&A: PAPs 101: Key Components of Developing Successful PAPs

5. Multi-stakeholder collaboration remains vital in a digital world.

Digital adoption may be the future, but we also need to ensure that no patients are left behind. We need to provide (and coordinate) information channel preferences for patients and providers while guiding them into tech. As noted in the session, “Foster Collaborations to Speed Access and Lower Costs,” simple step-by-step how-to videos and tutorials can increase adoption. Hybrid programs, where high-touch human services are enabled by smart tech, create a lot of value.

HelpAround Take: We are here to serve the patient and ensure they have the support they need to transition to an increasingly virtual world. Going digital can be broken down into smaller milestones that make adoption easy for both the brand and the patient.

Recommended Recording:
– Foster Collaborations to Speed Access and Lower Costs


It’s about time pharma steps up and (finally) joins the ranks of its industry brethren in the digital world. As we’ve learned from PAP 2020, this transition to digital health will require the continued adaptation to social and economic pressures caused by COVID19, the adoption of new digital solutions, the move to multi-channel access, and a greater emphasis on transparency and industry-wide collaboration.

Meanwhile, making specialty drug therapy easy means giving patients:

  • What they want—easy access, flexibility and transparency
  • When they want it—at the time that’s most convenient for them
  • Where they want it—via desktop, mobile, mobile web, SMS and/or in-person

We can’t wait for Reimbursement and Access 2020, which kicks off August 25. If you have questions or want more insights into digital solutions for access and adherence, meet us in the Private Meeting and Chat Rooms, or shoot us a message!