We all know that specialty medication presents a unique set of challenges for the patient. Just receiving the first dose is met with difficulty for up to 60% of patients.2 The specialty pharmaceutical industry is doing some really good work to address the needs of patients while staying compliant.
We thought you would be interested in the what we learned from several recent reports.
CoverMyMeds released two reports that identify the pain points for patients of specialty treatments, and then explain how technology can simplify the processes. (Medication Access Report and Specialty Patient Support Report)
Pharmaceutical Commerce published their 2020 Patient Support / Hub Services Report and goes more in depth on patient-centric improvements.
We read them and summarized the findings that we think will be most applicable to Specialty Patient Experience.
Patient Pain Points
The CoverMyMeds report used a survey of over 500 patients to quantify some of the difficulties patients still encounter with specialty medications. These areas stand out to us.
- Difficult or Very Difficult – 60% of specialty medication patients had some difficulty in receiving their first dose of therapy – nearly a third described their experience as difficult or very difficult.2
- Three hours and five phone calls – Over one third of these patients spent more than three hours of personal time completing steps required just to start their specialty therapy, and made five or more phone calls to various healthcare stakeholders.2
- What support services? Nearly 40 percent were unaware of what support services were available, where to find them, or who to ask.2
Factors Impeding Progress
Both reports highlight the reasons these patient issues persist.
- Hub programs are most impactful within two to three years of specialty product launches, limiting the incentive to automate manual processes and standardize workflows within the traditional hub model.3
- Hub programs were designed to sit at the center of the healthcare ecosystem and unite all the stakeholders necessary to start patients on specialty therapies. However, broken connections can leave patients without their medications or struggling to find answers on their own.3
- Direct interaction with patients in open forums might be a bridge too far for most pharma companies; they are continually balancing their interactions with patients with the restrictions imposed by regulatory compliance.1
Areas of Improvement
The reports also illustrate some of the trends that are giving us hope that the industry is making improvements.
- Online and Mobile – Giving patients insight into the status of their specialty prescriptions through online or mobile resources promotes efficient care, reduces uncertainty and helps avoid unnecessary phone calls to healthcare stakeholders.3
- Visibility and Transparency – By empowering patients with visibility and transparency, prescription abandonment and medication non-adherence numbers trend downward.3
- Text & Email Reminders – Tech-enabled tools that remind patients to take their medications or refill prescriptions help a lot. By reaching patients where they live, care coordinators can remain in contact through preferred communication channels and provide assistance when needed. Open dialogue that is efficient and accessible is shown to improve adherence to medications.3
- Wholistic Solutions – End-to-end solutions that incorporate integrations and acquisitions are improving outcomes. When tech-enabled patient services are provided by a single source, the patient wins. “…the patient has a better experience from enrollment, financial support, dispensing and longterm engagement. The better experience from this can result in better outcomes.”1
- Mobile Growth – The trend toward use of mobile technology to interface with patients, both as a means of communicating messages to them, and to gather patient-reported outcomes (PROs) from them, is growing. And that is a good very thing, both for patients and providers.1
- Community Support – We know that community is important, but these reports show that moderated patient communities are solving real problems. Patients who are taking the same drug—or suffering the same disease state—are finding and helping one another, sharing experiences and information, and improving outcomes – all under the care of expert moderators. “Imagine if patients on a therapy could join a group of their peers, moderated by experts from a pharma company, to talk about their treatment,” says Valerie Sullivan1
We look forward to watching these trends ease the pain of the patient, lower costs, and improve outcomes.