In February 2022, Matthew Aubin joined Sonexus™ Access & Patient Support is its new GM/VP. Well known in the patient support services field, Aubin draws on a career that has included leadership, commercial strategy and business development roles at data science companies and small and large pharma. Pharma Commerce sat down with Matthew to hear about his plans for Sonexus.
Matthew Aubin: In my last role I worked with data analytics, data imaging, data warehousing, etc. I was doing a lot of patient journey analytics, integrating the aggregated data, the hub data, the prescription data, a lot of the things we are now moving toward at Sonexus. About a year and half ago, I had the pleasure to start working with some of the Sonexus folks, helping them with their data analytics strategy. I felt they were doing it a bit better than the other places I’ve seen in the marketplace.
At Sonexus, we are actually performing better on pretty much every metric versus pre-COVID. The folks in our call centers in Dallas and Houston are performing better; they now have the digital tools in place to coach them as they go. People are happy working remotely, and that also means our talent pool is getting much better because we’re not actually tied to the Dallas–Houston area. In fact, some of our best people are in Alaska! We can actually serve our customers/manufacturers and patients better now because the talent pool is much broader and we can then regionalize people if need be. But last month we had a site visit and that was great; people are excited to have human contact again. I believe things are changing to be more efficient with this new remote/hybrid working model. It’s like when I was in management consulting. I had people in LA working on a project, as well as people from Philadelphia. And some people on that same project were in India. We would all fly to one of the main offices for a couple of days and really put a sprint in, meet with the client, attend meetings, visit sites, and then move on our ways and go back to working remotely. And those were some of my best performing teams.
In a meeting with a pharma company last week, the company was telling us that they were not satisfied with their vendor for one of their portfolios. When I told them about 40% of our business comes from transitions, they said, “If we had known that, we would have definitely given you a call!” I believe we need to build a commercial machine and do a better job of creating awareness in the marketplace; telling our story and telling it from a pharma perspective, a hub perspective. That is where our biggest opportunity lies because we are, I would say, blessed to get a lot of inbound activity. We do have business development folks bringing in leads, but we get a lot of inbound activity. I think our story is really strong; we just need to focus a little bit more on the commercial side because we’ve done a lot of work over the last few years to become very competitive in the marketplace. And now we are going to start leveraging advanced analytics to deliver a predictive patient journey; we’re almost ready to fully engage on that. I’m particularly excited about that as that’s one of my passions.
I think we’re getting there. There is an adoption curve like anything, and I do believe this business has to continue to invest in automation. That’s my background, so I’m excited to get there and be predictive on the patient journey. But it’s a combination of automation and human interaction. We’re always going to need people. Our people who engage with patients are really good. I’ve worked with a lot of hubs in the past where you visit the site and you can tell that the people are not excited or happy, so it is refreshing to work here with people who are really passionate and motivated.
We have a few capabilities that are in pilot mode and others in development phase. We call this product transformation, building a next-generation patient hub focusing on specific technologies like integrating into physician EHRs for a smoother workflow, building real-time electronic benefits (eBV) and prior authorizations (ePA) for both medical and pharmacy, and pharmacy texting on our non-commercial pharmacy side of the business. We have product teams for each of the independent work streams, and then an innovation team that will continue to innovate. And we’ve done a great job of re-platforming. We had the opportunity to add a huge investment and our platform is, I believe, more up to date than most, if not all others. It’s a true platform that allows the customers to use APIs to configure things the way they want to, to really drive the specific solution they require—as opposed to dealing with a platform that’s a big piece of tech but is in no way nimble. Overall, I’m excited about being able to be nimble.