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Top Takeaways from the 2020 HUB, SPP & eServices Conference

by Yishai Knobel,

The 2020 HUB, SPP, eServices Conference was no less informative in its COVID-19 friendly digital format. 

And of all the conferences this season, this one touches on more areas where technology and connectivity can make significant impact on the patient experience. Here are our top takeaways from the conference.

Top takeaways:

1. It is possible to overcome the obstacles standing between specialty patients and their needed therapy. And technology will play an increasing role in the future.

In “Create a Positive Patient Engagement Model to Enhance Patient Outcomes,” Alan Balch, PhD, CEO of the Patient Advocate Foundation, cited patient statistics that further cement our conviction that getting the right help to the right patient at the right time is critical:

  • 20 contacts per case, over 10 days to help a patient.
  • About 40% report being “usually to always overwhelmed by the time and effort it takes to get to treatment.”

Our Take: Transportation is just one complicating factor preventing patients from easily accessing treatment. With COVID and the rise in technology-enabled solutions, we can overcome transportation challenges while streamlining that 20-contact-per-case effort. Simply put, there is a technical solution to this analog problem.

Recommended Recordings:
– Create a Positive Patient Engagement Model to Enhance Patient Outcomes
– Building an End-to-End Model Through Integration — The New Key to Innovation

2. Integration is the key to innovation and improved adoption.

“Manual processes still plague the hub world to this day. As an example, when we talk HUB enrollment, over 90% are still submitted via fax…” – Kyle Grimslid

Kyle highlights numerous ways in which technology could (should, and will) overcome obstacles standing in the way of “the ultimate goal of getting this patient on and keeping him on appropriate and often life-changing therapy.” 

Our Take: Patients need therapy, and now more than ever, integration and access—when, where and how they need it—are the keys to their success. It really is all about providing the right support when we know it is appropriate for the patient at just the right moment.

Recommended Recordings:
– Building an End-to-End Model Through Integration — The New Key to Innovation

3. Electronic prior authorizations should be the default.
2020 may be an election year and a pandemic year, but increasingly, this is the year of the electronic prior-auth. It’s a complex issue, but patient needs are winning the day as all parties work together to achieve prior-authorization solutions the patients need. Again, to echo previous presentations, when they need it, where they need it, and how they need it. It’s all about the patient.

“There are even more parties involved in Specialty Medications beyond the pharmacy, PBM and prescriber. We can add health plans who may be processing their own claims for medical benefits, pharmaceutical companies and the hubs they contract with to run their support programs, and finally, data intermediaries, who can assist with guiding the process along – plus HUB data aggregators that measure the process after all has been completed.” 

“This is leaving a number of gaps where the process reverts to the fax machine.”
– Brian Bamberger

Our Take: We are 100% invested in creating system-agnostic solutions that bridge data gaps to better serve specialty patients. It’s all about making life easier for brands by making life easier for patients. And prior-auth is one pivotal piece in this puzzle.

Recommended Recordings:
– A Look at Technological Advancements Accelerating and Enhancing Patient Access

4. 2020 is forcing brands to reassess technical solutions to evolving patient needs.
2020, the year of hindsight… As brands preparing to launch in spring and summer faced into the COVID-storm of complexities, tech solutions were no longer a luxury, but a patient necessity. And a launch necessity. And not just the minimal engagement features like collecting signatures.

Our Take: This is not something we take lightly. While 2020 may be forcing the issue for many brands and patients, we’ve been hard at work creating solutions before the problems reached pandemic proportions. To say that HelpAround is here for this would—in a year already fraught with understatements—be the understatement of the year. 

Recommended Recordings:
– Integrating Tech + Talent into Patient Solutions Design to Deliver Better Patient and Provider Experiences

Pharma is being pushed, pulled and prodded into the digital world, led by patient needs in the wake of nationwide stay-at-home orders. This transition to digital (from complex issues like prior-auth to seemingly simple conundrums like how-to-get-signatures) is the tune we’re all dancing to. And the more we can collaborate in the complex dance, the better specialty patients will be served. And again, to re-re-reiterate, the needs of the patient are the needs of the brand. 

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

This conference season, even the conference-circuit is being forced to adapt and adopt creative technical solutions to very human problems. How do we connect? How do we learn from each other? How do we move forward? 

Just as we all experience through remote working and virtual conferences, technology-enabled solutions will continue to grow in importance in the specialty patient journey. And HelpAround will be there – making pharma’s life easier by making patients’ lives easier. 

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Beyond the App: HelpAround and ConnectiveRx Transform Specialty Patient Connectivity Through Mobile

by Yishai Knobel,

Our mission at HelpAround has always been to make patients’ lives easier, and this vision just took another major step forward. HelpAround and ConnectiveRx announced a partnership that makes it easier for specialty brands to provide patients access to the resources and actions they need on the device they always have – their mobile phone.

The Announcement
ConnectiveRx has announced a strategic partnership in HelpAround, simplifying the navigation and management of specialty medications for patients. You can read more about the relationship here.

What this announcement means
One key aspect to HelpAround is our turnkey connectivity to the specialty drug ecosystem. Our partnership with ConnectiveRx is one exciting example of how our connections turn into more strategic partnerships as together we bring innovative mobile solutions to patients and brands. 

What the future holds
We continue to develop the best turnkey patient connectivity in the specialty pharmaceutical ecosystem, helping patients get on therapy and stay on therapy. From prescribers to hubs to specialty pharmacies, HelpAround connects the patient in a secure, reliable way so they can understand their whole journey, regardless of what vendors are involved. Stay tuned for more announcements!

Not all patients want an app. But they are on mobile, and they need to stay on top of their treatment. ConnectiveRx and IQVIA are just two examples of our strategic relationships that allow us to say: “Easy for patients, easy for brands.”

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HelpAround shows 50% improvement in patient retention – new case study 🔥

by Yishai Knobel,

Facing significant drop-off rates, specialty pharmaceutical manufacturers are turning to HelpAround to address the last mile patient experience. As one of the first mobile health platforms for the $219B specialty drug industry, HelpAround guides patients through complex treatments by streamlining a network of patient services into the palm of each patient’s hand. In a recent study, HelpAround was able to increase user retention rates by 60% and app engagement rates by 55%.

Because specialty patient journeys are so unique, a large part of that improvement comes from HelpAround’s hyper-personalized experience that includes many layers. The customized customer communication, aided by technology from Braze and Neura, adapts and responds to a patient’s individual needs, resulting in higher engagement and retention.

The Right Message at the Right Moment

HelpAround helps patients navigate their path to therapy through News Feed Cards and push notifications, using Neura to understand when to engage and Braze to deliver and personalize the messages. The combination of timely triggers and segments provided by Neura and cross-channel mobile engagement powered by Braze makes HelpAround more helpful—and more valuable—to its users.

“Our top priority is to provide patients with a private, secure concierge experience that fits their individual lives,” said Yishai Knobel, Cofounder and CEO of HelpAround. “HelpAround provides a personalized experience that feels familiar, helpful, and unique to each patient that trusts HelpAround with their health and their privacy. HelpAround’s ability to understand each of our patients throughout their journey enables engagement opportunities that improve adherence, affordability, and outcomes.”

HelpAround Results: Increased Engagement and Retention Rate

By focusing on relevant and timely messages, HelpAround increased its retention rate by 60%. They also boosted their app engagement rate by 55%.

Final Thoughts

In summary, HelpAround provides highly-relevant and personalized experiences to its customers. HelpAround is also able to adapt their patient concierge service to each individual patient without sacrificing patient privacy or data security. If you want to learn more about our last-mile patient services, please fill out the form below.

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How Mobile Copay Cards Help Activate and Retain Specialty Patients

by Yishai Knobel,

Copay cards are a direct way for manufacturers to reduce out-of-pocket costs, supporting patients’ ability to choose their treatments instead of being pushed towards generics by their insurance. Yet the opportunity copay cards offers goes far beyond just an out-of-pocket discount.Copay cards open the door for patients to even approach a new treatment, knowing that their costs may be offset in some way. Any new diagnosis or drug regimen can be highly intimidating – especially in the case of pricey specialty drugs – and copay cards are the way manufacturers support the patient to jump a major hurdle: affordability.

Patients expect more, and so do brands

Just as consumers have gotten used to transferring money and ordering flights on the go, they also expect to order, buy and manage their meds easily through mobile. Distributing copay cards through mobile is a no-brainer from a user experience perspective; but no less of a no-brainer from a business point of view.

With the right mobile data capabilities, a digital copay card can unlock invaluable insights not only on copay activation and utilization, but also on the patient’s journey on therapy. Such data can enable brand teams to personalize the resources and messaging they offer each patient to drive better activation and adherence, all with a personal touch.

Here are some examples of those signals and potential insights that brands can unearth by placing smart copay cards on patients’ smartphones:

Direct copay signals:

Helping patients get started on their treatment is always a challenge – copay card utilization data can help:

  • Copay card unredeemed – Knowing that a card has been activated but not redeemed may signal that the patient ran into a hurdle in their path to therapy, needs some extra support to get going, or often just doesn’t realize that they have a discount in their hands, even after they activated it. Sending an app reminder or making a case manager aware of such patient could be the difference between successful and failed on-boarding.
  • Changes or halt in copay card redemptions – Similar to an unredeemed card, notifying a case manager of a sudden halt or time shift in redemptions can enable an intervention to prevent the ubiquitous patient drop-off.
  • Copay cards “off schedule” – Prescriptions set particular dosages and require on-time refills to maintain therapy schedules. People who lag with refills or take their medication off schedule may have less favorable outcomes on treatment. By detecting these signals, a case manager can be alerted to this patient and reach out to help.

Indirect (passive) copay signals:

Using a smart mobile platform to host and serve the copay card also allows case manager to gather passive activation and adherence signals for analysis and tailoring of their programs:

  • Repeated hospitalizations – Mobile platforms that can detecting frequent hospital visits (ideally without draining the battery with GPS), may indicate potential disruptions to therapy or uncontrolled symptoms, e.g. flare-ups or asthma attacks. After this type of signal, a a check-in phone call from a nurse or case manager may help a patient get through the rough patch or offer a nudge to see their HCP about a dosage update.
  • Patient is traveling – Perhaps there are travel tips that every patient needs when they are away from home and taking a particular medicine: hints at keeping their medicine at temperature, how to administer doses in different time zones, etc. Mobile patient data can detect when people are on the road, and offer appropriate content and support resources to help stay on therapy throughout and after the trip.
  • Patient is missing out on workdays – Identifying that the patient is at home, instead of at work, for several days may indicate a variety of challenges. Mobile patient data can detect this change in day-to-day behavior and notify the case manager that this patient needs special attention.

In summary, digitizing copays cards using mobile patient data enriches patient programs to improve their services and help more patients on-board and adhere to their therapy regimens.

To learn more about helparound’s mobile patient data, visit us at

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Apple’s Gift for Specialty Brands

by Yishai Knobel,

Apple just announced a new horizon for health apps: a Health Records API. This move is a breakthrough for patient-centered health management, in general; and specifically for people on specialty regimens, this may be a game changer.

What did Apple announce exactly?

At the start of 2018, Apple updated its Health App to centralize patients’ medical data from multiple providers into a single view on their iPhone. Now they have announced a new API that builds on this, allowing patients to share their personal health data with their favorite health apps. Apple hopes developers and researchers will “create an ecosystem of apps that use health record data to better manage medications, nutrition plans, diagnosed diseases and more.”

With the patient’s iPhone as the focal point for integration, an opportunity arises for anyone offering patient services through mobile to provide even more patient-centric services. In a sense, each patient’s iPhone becomes a personal data center and patients can now give apps different levels of access to their EHR (more on the benefits of personal data in pharma here)

Some specialty brands can win big

So what is the opportunity for specialty brands?

Specialty brands almost always accompany their drug launches with patient support programs, often administered by patient hubs, to support patients along their journey. These programs help patients with deal with insurance coverage, on-boarding to the new treatment and adherence to the therapy.

It’s all in the data

But while striving to support patients, brands and hubs are typically flying blind when it comes to tracking each patient along their personal journey. We already see hubs starting to invest in tools to help better harness patient data, yet actionable patient data throughout the patient journey and in real-time is still a major gap.

Leveraging Apple’s new capability, specialty brands can now expect hubs to know when patients reach critical milestones along their journey. How? By deploying existing patient support programs on mobile data platforms that integrate with Apple’s new EHR capability (see below to learn more on Helparound’s mobile patient intelligence).

What patient milestones can hubs identify given access to a patient’s EHR?

  1. Medicine prescribed: Prescription logs are almost always part of the patient’s record.  Thus once a drug is prescribed, data platforms know it and so can the brand’s hub (provided, of course, that the patient agreed to share such data);
  2. Lab tests available: Many specialty drugs, e.g. biologics or those that the FDA requires a REMS protocol involve a qualifying lab test before the doctor can prescribe them. With the EHR now on the iPhone, and with the patient choosing to automatically share such information with the hub, the case manager can now be notified once a patient has conducted the test (which happens to be good timing to send the patient back to the doctor to review the lab test results)
  3. Dosage change: A hub can also adjust it’s engagement pattern with the patient knowing based on change of dosage or therapy regimen per the iPhone data.

Data privacy done right

Not only is this new API great for patients, hubs and brands, but regulators and legal teams should also be delighted with the trend of turning a patient’s personal phone into their patient data hub. Data sharing decisions are put directly in the patient’s hands; all stakeholders benefit from the ease of sharing data while optimally ensuring privacy.

Data integration done right

Say the term “EHR integration” in a team meeting, and half the room cringes… because the fragmentation, complexity and sensitivity of EHR systems is at an all time high.  

Good news IT folks!  A new integration platform has arrived, and it’s slick, simple, and free! (at least for your organization). Please meet: the iPhone. Oh, and every iPhone comes with a built-in decision maker on which integrations are allowed to take place. Please meet: the patient.

Apple did it again. Just like what the iPod did to Music, and Apple Pay did to payments, it introduced simplicity into a sensitive, convoluted challenge, by giving control back to the consumer.

And specialty brands?  They can win here by gaining visibility into the patient journey, by deploying their patient support programs on mobile platforms that empower patients to first own and then share their personal health data with the organizations that help them the most.



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Specialty Pharma Can Learn From Tinder – Part 2

by Yishai Knobel,

In the previous segment of this article, we shared our excitement over Helparound’s recent patent for its novel matchmaking technology to connect patients through our mobile intelligence platform. Companies like Tinder and LinkedIn brought matchmaking to dating and job seeking – it only makes sense that such technologies would also help people dealing with health issues.

In specialty therapeutics jargon, the steps of getting on new therapies are referred to as: Access, Activation and Adherence. Here in part 2, we dig into how matchmaking technology can support each of these steps.  

Therapy Access

Following the initial shock of a life-changing diagnosis, one of the first questions to arise is: how will I pay for this?  Especially in the U.S., almost regardless of one’s insurance, specialty therapies are costly. Insurance plans have various coverage rules and, quite often for specialty treatments, there are numerous patient assistance programs from manufacturers, non-profits and other sources.

Finding an individual who lives in the same state, is the same gender, age group and even employment status, can help bring order to the mess of coverage options for a particular therapy or treatment. Instead of extensive hours of Internet research, waiting on hold for the Medicare call center or researching a specific plan – instead of reinventing the wheel each time – pose the question to people who have gone through the same experience. Sharing information about access complexities can be both a time saver and a helpful support system to relieve the financial stress of a new diagnosis.

Activation (aka on-boarding)

Hand-in-hand with treatment access issues comes the hurdle of on-boarding the treatment itself. Such a diagnosis is overwhelming enough for the entire family; now the patient and caregiver are expected to begin self-administering injections, IV, or even dialysis.  Further, paying attention to a nurse on a home-visit showing how to administer the treatment, or even just sitting down and carefully reading a patient starter-kit, can be a major hurdle in such emotional state. The starter kit also lacks an interactive aspect for continued engagement as questions arise, which they inevitably will as one gets going with treatment.

Again, this is where patient matching can shine.  For example, take kidney failure patients, who typically dialyze in clinics multiple times a week, but may also be able to do so at home, using home dialysis.  This therapy has many advantages: time, freedom, the ability to dialyze more often without an appointment or over night. However, the responsibility for carrying out this medical procedure lies with the patient and his/her caretaker, an intense commitment for both, often simply because self-insertion of needles without medical supervision can be super overwhelming.

Many resources can help a patient transition from in-clinic to home dialysis: educational content, remote support, videos, etc. But as much evidence has shown, matching patients who are dealing with similar challenges – or better yet have already solved the issue in the past – is “a critical and effective strategy for ongoing health care and sustained behavior change”. Home dialysis is no different: connecting with another patient who went through a similar transition, can make a big a difference.

As we mentioned in part I of this article, matchmaking does not alleviate the challenges or worries that come along with a new diagnosis or treatment, but it can ease the anxieties that accompany it. In this age of technology, peer matching won’t alleviate a condition but it can hopefully connect people to make treatment activation a bit less daunting and relieve some of the lonely and overwhelmed feelings that accompany a diagnosis.


Always the trickiest aspect of a complex treatment, especially with specialty therapies, treatment adherence may be the arena where matchmaking technology can have the most impact. While there are a variety of dynamics that lead to nonadherence – ranging from forgetting to take medication and lack of symptoms to cost pressure or insurance paperwork – ~$300B is spent each year dealing with the problem of people not sticking to their treatment regimen.

Sticking with any regimen can be a challenge – if you know it’s going to continue for a long time, even a lifetime in many cases, it can be even more daunting. High-touch therapies are often accompanied by patient support programs executed by specialty hubs or pharmacies, which currently rely mostly on nurse call centers and monthly check-ins. While these connections are important, it is not likely to address some of the most common reasons for drop-off, including forgetting a dose or feeling better due to the medication. Similar to having a workout buddy with whom you share goals, commit to the workout regimen and encourage each other when it gets touch – having a treatment buddy with the same goals can lead to better treatment adherence.

Mobile Patient Intelligence

At helparound, we developed a novel algorithmic method to match patients to each other to provide peer help and support based on similar medical circumstances. Helparound was awarded a patent in 2017 for our unique method of connecting patients to each other. Combined with additional resources offered through our Mobile Patient Intelligence platform, though no technology makes the condition disappear, Helparound is here to transform families’ navigation  a life-changing diagnosis.

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Online personal data will be a boon for patient support

by Shlomi Aflalo,

“Behavioral targeting” is the marketer’s term for techniques to increase the effectiveness of online publishing and advertising with deep user data. Facebook has dominated the news recently because of behavioral targeting driven by its data management policies. Yet for many users, Amazon’s Alexa eavesdrops on us 24/7 and she’s perceived as “part of the family.” Both Facebook and Alexa use similar techniques to learn about our preferences, yet it feels different depending on how the data is being used. So the issue of behavioral targeting is not defined by the practice itself, but the uses to which it is put.

Most of us notice that internet ads appear as though they’re following us. Perhaps there’s an ad for a clothing store where you were recently shopping. Or there’s an ad for a new degree program that is strikingly similar to an institution you were just looking into. Quite often these ads are appealing – those are the times when such behavioral targeting (and re-targeting) are doing its job well.

In specialty pharma, behavioral targeting has the potential to significantly help patients via better patient services, as well as create value for hubs and manufacturers. The key is active use of smartphones (which is more and more common among the general public) and/or online activities, and access to user’s data habits in any of these media.

Understanding the mechanics of targeting
To understand how behavioral targeting can augment specialty patient services, let’s look at the bread and butter of behavioral targeting: implicit data. Users leave a crumbtrail of passive data that advertisers leverage to catalog users’ interests. For example, the articles users recently read shed light on current interests; connections reveal people we relate to; and fans can be identified by watching a particular sport or playing a video game.

Data about how a user consumes content is also highly informative: at what time of day someone reads about a particular subject, where they get groceries, which device they use – mobile or desktop. Of course, geographic data based on smartphone location throughout the day can also be collected, since people take their phones everywhere. Using these insights, computer algorithms analyze how to segment people and optimize advertising, to continuously improve content delivery to each particular user.

Using behavioral targeting responsibly
So how can this data help patients and their families navigate life after a diagnosis? The patient journey metaphor meshes well with behavioral targeting, as throughout any journey there are ups and downs, smooth and easy moments as well as various questions. This implicit data can be used to understand a person’s needs at a particular juncture in the journey in an effort to smooth the way. This is relevant for all conditions, both in specialty pharma sectors and mass market.

We can gather data points to figure out important health indicators such as when someone goes to work or comes home, when and where a treatment takes place, is someone sleeping enough or not getting exercise. This can be done by platforms like Neura, an AI-driven user awareness platform that utilizes smartphone signals along with WiFi and Bluetooth signals to get to know each user. This information feeds into platforms like Helparound (a technology partner of Neura) to gain insights used to achieve two goals: (1) reduce the burden on patients and their caregivers directly, and (2) help hubs better time their outreach to patients. Systems can also send timely reminders to schedule doctor appointments or ask if a ride to a treatment is needed, calculating potential traffic on the way and suggesting the best time to leave; or to notify that a nearby pharmacy now accepts the user’s insurance.

Changes in behavior may signal therapy disruptions, which can have a negative impact on patient outcomes. By understanding and predicting what is happening in the patient’s physical world, behavioral targeting can help detect that a patient is travelling and unavailable to pick up their prescription refill – allowing a specialty pharmacy to customize patient engagement. Any change in routine can be identified, allowing the power of behavioral targeting to work its magic. Additionally, those patients who want the benefit of reaching out to others experiencing a similar situation can take advantage of a platform like Helparound to connect with others.

Specialty pharma applications
In summary, behavioral targeting can both optimize a patient’s experience and enrich hub’s understanding of its patients.

In our new reality where data is collected all day, everyday, we see the value of behavioral targeting as well as the complexity of data management. Fortunately, in the healthcare sector, HIPAA exists to guard our privacy. So although recent headlines may cause concern about data gathering, we believe these technologies can be successfully used to help patients, their caregivers and the hubs that serve them. By offering content for patients and caregivers, bringing up useful services at the right moment, and acting just when a patient might need a bit of extra TLC, the entire specialty health ecosystem can transform the healthcare experience.

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