Methods that pharma companies can use to make the hub more personalized and experiential.
As launch timelines accelerate and competition increases, pharmaceutical companies must find ways to leverage the insights at their disposal to improve their engagement with healthcare providers (HCPs) and patients, while strengthening their brands. The patient hub provides a golden opportunity for this enhanced engagement, as long as pharma companies take advantage of the data contained within these hubs.
The rise of complex biologic therapies in the early 2000s brought the earliest patient support services, which essentially served as call centers focused on offering financial assistance. Today, hubs offer a variety of services, including onboarding a patient on therapy, adherence, support programs, supply chain coordination, and more. These hubs facilitate myriad digital interactions between patients and the pharma company. When they work well, hubs help patients start and stay on the therapies they need and ease workloads for HCPs and pharmacies. When they fall short of their potential, hubs decrease the original intention of supporting the patient across the journey.
While the hub has many features at the heart of these programs, what we will focus this article on is data. Essentially, pharma companies must do more with their hub data to improve the patient journey. Hubs have or possess the potential to have rich patient data that can be mined for insights on preferences and future behavior. By taking full advantage of hub data, companies can make their hubs more personalized and experiential. However, today, most companies are only scratching the surface and are not fully utilizing hub data. Turning granular data from hubs into insights that drive action will help companies become more patient-centric in their commercial operations.
From a call center to a digital experience
The 1990s witnessed launches of numerous blockbuster drugs. The first hubs served as financial support for patients on complex and expensive biologic therapies. By the early 2000s, many pharma companies began realizing their blockbuster new offering faced competitors treating the same patients. Payers were growing stronger. And, in many cases, patients became a more important part of the equation. These factors helped create a second generation of patient hubs that included patient support features. These new hubs offered services such as processing and submitting complex claims for rare disease products and sending patient reminders—such as refill reminders—to improve adherence to prescribed therapies.
However, hubs were not taking full advantage of their data to achieve customized analytical capabilities, predictive models that could anticipate therapy adherence, and powerful patient-level individualization. These shortfalls limited the effectiveness of the patient hub.
More recently (2010-2020), as pharma organizations placed a greater focus on therapies for rare diseases, patients required more hands-on support compared to mass-market therapies. Thus, companies added more sophisticated services to support patients receiving rare disease therapies, such as coordinating treatments with HCPs and securing transportation to the treatment site (for example, for patients traveling to receive cell and gene therapies).
Moreover, this period is when digital transactions mushroomed. The digital revolution led to an explosion of data, as medical data were doubling every 73 days. Digital capabilities allowed larger (but not always insightful) amounts of information to be collected and analyzed. Such data involved product sales, purchase frequency, patient demographics, and more. Hubs were beginning to show their larger potential.
Today, while more progress is essential to improve patient centricity, a far more proactive patient hub has blossomed. The long COVID-19 pandemic brought with it an explosion in the number of digital prescription transactions. Many hubs now have a bevy of patient-centric features and benefits to those calling, emailing, texting, scanning, or engaging in chat.
Telemedicine continues to grow, with patient hubs playing a key coordination role between prescriber and patient. For example, companies such as Hims and Ro provide a one-stop-shop for patients to digitally connect with HCPs, receive a prescription, and have the therapy shipped right to their doors.
Hubs are also playing a more central role in interactions with distribution and payer networks, helping facilitate prior authorizations, reimbursements, the delivery of documentation for rare and expensive drugs, and the production of data for pharma companies to ease the tracking and recording of sales. Hubs connect patients and HCPs with available resources. For example, nudging applicable patients to leverage phone apps for disease or medication management.
Turning the hub into impactful technology
Today’s patients are more tech-savvy, inquisitive, discerning, and more inclined to change their preferences or seek alternative therapies. A survey conducted by Accenture found that nearly three-quarters of respondents have used digital technologies to manage their health.1
Further, patients seek highly individualized attention. According to a survey by software company Dynata, 75% of US consumers wish their healthcare experiences were more personalized.2 In response, pharma companies must leverage their hub data to uncover valuable insights that allow them to offer more engaging, personalized experiences.
Here are four keys to implementing enhanced patient hubs:
1. Build the underlying data infrastructure.
Hubs should be built with underlying data acquisition tools that are unified, free of patchwork designs. The challenge is huge. Proactive planning, instead of a patchwork approach, allows companies to strategize around data ingestion, governance, and use. Further, it helps companies design a hub centered on improving the patient organization.
2. Take a “use case-first" approach.
By proactively mapping out a hub system, companies can think more holistically about the potential use cases of their offering. Then, they can prioritize each use case to take a step-by-step approach to building out their hub program. This approach ensures organizations have a comprehensive hub and all of the features work together to improve the patient experience.
3. Take control of your hub.
In many cases, a company’s hub is outsourced to a third party. Oftentimes, this can mean the company is a step removed from a patient’s hub experience—and the data that come with it. Pharma companies must have a thoughtful service-level agreement (SLA) in place and ensure they can collect the appropriate metrics to gather data and insights from their hubs. Additionally, they must closely oversee the hub provider to ensure they follow the roadmap and develop tools for impactful patient experiences.
4. Incorporate many channels to serve tech-savvy patients.
Today’s patients and their caregivers—whether they are parents of newborns, teenagers, GenX, middle aged, baby boomers, seniors, or super seniors—expect maximum user-friendliness and ease of access. Segments within each generation will have specific communications preferences and expect the hub to accommodate those preferences. Companies must double-down on their omnichannel experience to ensure they are reaching patients at the right time, on the right channel.
By proactively mapping out the hub and developing impactful features that personalize the experience for each patient, pharma companies will improve the patient experience, ultimately leading to happier patients and better adherence. Hubs can also improve the HCP experience; by providing easy access to documents, and features to improve authorizations and other tedious paperwork, hubs can reduce the workloads of HCPs and other functions in the patient journey. Taking steps which help ensure hubs become more experiential and highly personalized is the ideal route to better serve patients.
1. Safavi, K., et al. Digital adoption: Reaction or Revolution? Accenture. August 6, 2021. https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insights/health/digital-adoption-healthcare-reaction-or-revolution
2. 75% of US Consumers Wish Their Healthcare Experiences Were More Personalized, Redpoint Global Survey Reveals. Business Wire. February 18, 2020. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200218005006/en/75-of-U.S.-Consumers-Wish-Their-Healthcare-Experiences-Were-More-Personalized-Redpoint-Global-Survey-Reveals
About the Authors
Rohit Gupta is VP of Analytics Strategy and Transformation, while David Laros is VP of Digital Strategy, Analytics, and Insights, both at Beghou Consulting.