In the latest episode of Impetus Digital‘s Fireside Chat, I sat down with John Leombruno, CEO of OkRx, to discuss how his company is working to improve patient support program (PSP) strategy and operations in Canada. We also explored the impact of COVID-19 on PSPs, digital transformation, clinical trials, and much more!
Here is a sneak peek of our conversation:
Q: How are Pharma companies benefiting from having patients enrolling in their specific patient support programs?
A: Just out the gate, many of these drugs are challenging to obtain. Some are easy and have a path to reimbursement or coverage that is simple, but most of them have a little bit of a convoluted path. When the patient leaves the physician’s office, there’s uncertainty about what’s going to happen. That is the biggest barrier and, usually, the biggest reason-for-being for a lot of these programs is to make sure that the patients are assessed from a reimbursement perspective, and that a full assessment is done. Then, if there is no coverage afterward, the companies would feel a lot better about providing compassionate or other types of free drugs, knowing that the patient truly does not have any sources of reimbursement. That is always job number one. Getting patients on therapy quickly and efficiently is probably the number one reason that pharma companies would end up supporting these programs.
It’s like the hierarchy of needs. Once you got a patient on your program, and they’re on the drug, and they’re doing well, then focus shifts from that to education. A lot of times, we’re doing education. In our CRM, we actually have modules that manage the education and ensure it’s documented appropriately and so forth. Those are to make sure that the patients know about potential side effects, how to manage those side effects, and so forth.
Probably, the third one is adherence, because when patients ultimately end up feeling and doing better, that’s when they forget to take their medications. I see a hierarchy of needs there. Every therapeutic area and every drug has a different set of needs based on the realities that they’re facing. Those would be the big three buckets.
As you go further down into the types of services that programs have provided, then you’re looking at if a drug needs to be administered. Then, there’s got to be administration coordination, and that’s a hassle. That’s something that is probably being done today in companies the same way it was done in the late 90s versus if you think about even the last two years with physicians, it’s been amazing how the physician environment or just the clinic environment has changed. You used to have to call, and being on the phone for 10 minutes to get someone at your doctor’s office whereas now you just get an email saying “here are three dates or three times, pick the one you want.” It’s stuff like that, that needs to evolve.
The final piece is just the coordination of services required for patients. A lot of times, this is just to help the physician out, because prescribing some of these drugs is complicated. For example, you might need a lot of tests, and those types of tests, if they’re not done at the beginning, could affect the patient’s reimbursement status a year from now. You can get on the drug today and everything’s okay, but then, in a year when they say, “How has this level changed?” If you don’t have the baseline level it’s a problem. You can work in services like that into the patient support program. Those are, in a bucket, most of the types of things that patient support programs are doing today…
For more of our discussion, you can watch the whole Fireside Chat with John Leombruno, or listen to the podcast version, below.
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