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Disruption is the order of the day to create a more individual-centric hub experience from the patient’s point of view
After a newly diagnosed illness or chronic condition, a patient may find that navigating the healthcare system can be bewildering. And making sense of how to begin a complex drug therapy without help can present them with a steep learning curve at an emotional time. Hub services can alleviate a host of anxieties related to starting, and adhering to, a complex drug regimen. From prior authorizations and copay assistance, to logistics and communication with the patient and their care team, the most effective hubs seamlessly remove barriers to a patient’s access to life-saving drug therapy. But all too often, the patient can feel lost in the process.
For specialty drug manufacturers, high regulatory pressures make it natural to view the hub program from the inside, out through the lens of compliance, performance, analytics, and reporting. The ability to control costs with an efficient operational model drives business performance but does less to illuminate where along the patient journey an individual struggled to navigate a confusing or complex process. It is time to look at the effectiveness of your hub program from the outside in, through the lens of the patient’s journey where a five-star hub experience translates to patient satisfaction, treatment adherence, and better health outcomes.
Specialty drugs account for 2% of total medications prescribed, yet over 50% of the total prescription costs in the US, according to Evernorth’s 2020 Drug Trend Report.1 The report predicts that specialty spending could increase 10% to 15% over the next few years. Given the expense and the known risks of incorrectly using prescription medications, a patient’s lack of adherence and persistency due to movable barriers within your hub program is a non-starter.
To create a more individual-centric experience—and reveal the not-so-obvious sources of frustration—every interaction that involves the patient should consider their journey, experiences, and their emotions.
These four considerations provide the framework to rethink a hub program from a patient’s perspective:
The patient is your consumer
Consumers have grown accustomed to the convenience of technology—whether they’re ordering produce or purchasing a new car. And in a world with same-day delivery, suggested purchases, and personalized ads, consumers expect more information and choices than ever when making buying decisions. Smart retailers are studying all these preferences to cater to the individual’s preferences in how they learn about a product and the information (what and how much) they want before making a purchase.
It should not come as a surprise that the consumers have the same expectations of their interactions with the healthcare ecosystem. The hub program is no exception. Even though they are engaging in an experience that may not be of their choosing, the consumer-become-patient wants ready information to understand their disease state and tools to view progress at every step of the hub experience. Pharma manufacturers can look to retailers for effective practices to quickly become the trusted, go-to source for accurate information that patients can rely on to help them manage their condition, learn more about therapy, and discover ways to stay adherent.
On the other end of the behind-the-scenes activities to ensure a hub is cost-efficient and compliant, is a patient who is expecting a personalized, real-world experience—much like the one they get from an Amazon or Instacart.
Curate individual-centric experiences
Drug manufacturers can affect individualized experiences through the power of self-service. Patients want instant answers about their journey to therapy at their fingertips. They’re thinking: Where can I find out more about my medication? For quick-start or bridge drug shipments, what is the status of my medication delivery? Where am I in the process of payer approval to start my therapy? The accurate and easy flow of information can help to create trust and to improve patient satisfaction. And, considering all of an individual’s touchpoints—which may include family, friends, patient support groups, and more—creating a rich and immersive personalized experience can create positive ripple effects that may generate goodwill for your brand.
As it is with retailers, there is value in pharma organizations asking the patient to rate their experience. In addition to gaining valuable insights, a patient’s input about an experience that is essentially not of their choosing can help them feel visible in a fragmented ecosystem and save their healthcare providers from an earful. A strong feedback loop can also motivate patients to have more of a role in managing their care and understanding their condition.
And with tools like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), we’re able to pinpoint how to best reach patients based on their data—and personalize it. Maybe it’s a phone call, text message, or email. Even motivational text messaging. Based on their personal health trends and behaviors, we’re able to pinpoint how much hand-holding they likely need to stay adherent, even predict which questions they might ask. That’s what truly individualizes the experience. And it makes the process all the more seamless and efficient.
Understand the consumer’s choice: Self-service or high touch
Let’s stick with this shift in mindset of viewing the patient as a consumer. To give patients the experience they want and need, take a page from luxury retail. Upon entering the store, you may choose a highly personalized shopping experience where a highly attentive salesperson is on hand to offer suggestions, answer questions, and tend to your comfort with all the accoutrements. Or you may say, “Thanks, just browsing,” and be left alone knowing that you can switch to the high-touch experience at any time. You drive the interaction and dictate how your experience is curated with the expectation of impeccable, white-glove service in either scenario. The patient is seeking the same power to choose.
When we lay the groundwork for an engaging, educational hub program, the patient’s choice on how they want to shape their journey must be top of mind. Do they prefer self-service, or do they need a high-touch approach to care? To determine this, a good hub program leverages its data and understands how to use it—via the best channel at the most important time—to give the patient the best experience possible, which, in turn, will drive the best outcome possible.
Focus on whole-person health
As hub programs evolve, drug manufacturers will increasingly become part of the conversation about a patient’s holistic health. Can we advance health equity as part of the patient’s extended care team? The focus on social determinants of health (SDOH) is prompting the industry to look beyond cost as a likely driver of a patient’s struggle with persisting on therapy. Major manufacturers are making headlines for investments and partnerships with community organizations to advance health equity with dollars to provide access to care, education, and support to underserved patients. Direct investment is one pathway to build a bridge to whole-person care.
However, what if an enrolled patient is hungry or doesn’t have a way to the hospital? What if they don’t have safe housing in their neighborhood? Through regular interactions, you may learn more about the unmet social needs of the patient, but, today, it is not the role of the hub to address these issues.
As information becomes easier to share across silos, drug manufacturers will be called upon to take a greater role in collecting and sharing insights that factor into whole-person care for the patient. In this sense, an inside-out look at the hub can drive something greater and more sustainable to the program than a five-star review.
A patient’s journey is personal, unique, and full of distinct interactions that can influence whole-person outcomes. Viewing your hub program from the outside in will help illuminate barriers and points of frustration that can derail efforts to improve adherence and persistency, and damage brand goodwill.
Creating a mind shift away from viewing your hub program as a process-driven exercise for efficiency and cost-control will not happen overnight, but there are rewards for evolution. Disruption is the order of the day to create a more individual-centric hub experience from the patient’s POV.
About the Author
Jim Banigan is Director of Patient Access Support HUB/PAP for Pharma and Life Sciences at Conduent, Inc.
1. Evernorth 2020 Drug Trend Report, https://www.evernorth.com/drug-trend-report/year-in-review#main-content