The Quick Skinny on 2021’s HUB, SPP & eServices Optimization Event

If you missed Hub SPP’s buzzy gathering, or if you just want a fresh refresh, this one’s for you.

Whether you’re a manufacturer, specialty pharmacy, or hub provider, there was something for everyone at this year’s Hub SPP. We scoured the virtual event and scooped up all the insights we could gather on a topic we’re passionate about: optimizing access support for specialty pharma patients. 

Across the range of panels, a few themes converged: 

  • The patient journey has become more complex, in parallel with the growing complexity of specialty medications, and providers need to get creative about simplifying this experience. 
  • Technology solutions are important but the answer lies not in adding dizzying layers of ever more tech; it’s in stripping those layers down to the essence of what patients will actually use. 
  • Clear communication and direct human connection are ultimately the pillars of patient support services, and amidst a crowded specialty landscape both have never been more important than now. How are you connecting and communicating in ways that make your patient journeys easy?


Here are some session takeaways that resonated with us, packaged for a fast debrief: 

Improve Patient Engagement through Mobile Messaging and Virtual Assistance


Top 3 takeaways

  1. Enough with the apps! We all have app fatigue, maxxed out on our smartphones and all of its apps. The average person has 80 apps but only uses nine on a daily basis. Spare us your new app, PLEASE.
  2. Text is the way. That’s how we want to be messaged. That said, text has its limits. It’s not secure and the engagement is, shall we say, less than engaging (yes, no, help, stop.) 
  3. Call centers won’t be replaced by tech. New tech adds to the patient experience and makes it easier and more efficient for agents.


Stray observations:

  • Virtual assistants for patient support are a wave from the future. Chatbot skills are getting better every day; robots can guide everything from uploading documents before an appointment, navigating with the banking industry, insurance companies, and the list goes on.



Bridge the Gap Between Hubs and Specialty Pharmacies for Improved Patient Experience

Speakers: Jennifer Hamilton, Senior Director, Patient Services, Harmony Biosciences; Amber Walker, Senior Director, Trade & Distribution, Harmony Biosciences 


Top 3 takeaways:

  1. Start with the simple stuff.  Everything begins with your patient journey; that includes factors like their disease state, recommended product, competitors/market for that product, the payor landscape, potential challenges, meeting company and leadership goals, KPI metrics, time to triage with the HUB, and time to fill with the SP.  
  2. Talk and share. The patient journey process depends on active communication and collaboration between all internal and external parties. 
  3. Build a foundation for your data. Strong data grounding will support high integrity, and you can then leverage the data accordingly. 


Stray observations:

  • Tips for optimal communication and collaboration:
    • Have a mutual understanding of workflows.
    • Ensure an internal and external alignment of planning and goals.
    • Generate a matrix of roles, responsibilities, capabilities, and limitations of each partner.
    • Understand where the handoffs are occurring.
    • Clearly define processes and criteria.
    • Implement a feedback loop to focus on continuous improvement and avoid double work. 
    • Eliminate barriers: points of contact, the preferred method of communication and cadence, email distribution lists.
  • Best practices for promoting adherence:
    • Initial outreach: Set realistic expectations based on the product. 
    • Take every opportunity to clinically inform and set expectations on the process. 
    • Adherence calls throughout the journey. 
    • Explore applications to set reminders, or create bottles with integrated reminders.
  • How to leverage your data:
    • Host a data summit for all parties involved.
    • Collaboratively identify business rules around the data.



Hub Optimization PAP Support- eSolutions

Speakers: Chris Costales, Account Director, Labcorp Patient Access Solutions 


Top 3 takeaways:

  1. Help patients understand their plans. PAP stands for Patient Assistance Program (aka free drug services.) Ten to twenty percent of patients who apply for free drug assistance have been found to have some sort of insurance. Of those patients, 13-18% were shown to have product coverage. 
  2. Patients and providers are looking for quick assistance. eSolutions are leading to that, cutting down on missing information and reducing TAT. But with eSolutions, only patients who qualify will receive assistance. 
  3. It’s not just patients who benefit from support. Information and quality that is received through eSolutions is also beneficial to manufacturer partners. 


Stray observations:

  • The ideal setup for benefits management is a portal to submit PAP enrollment forms online, instead of manual data entry or fax forms. The portal has verification tools that can verify whether patients qualify.


Discover Patient Support Program Needs for Patients with Rare Diseases

SpeakersHari Ramachandran, Vice President, Technology & Digital Transformation, EVERSANA; Emily Phillips, Executive Director, Patient Advocacy & Government Affairs, Pharming Healthcare Inc.


Top 3 takeaways:

  1. The one-size-fits-all approach never works in specialty pharmacy. Especially with rare diseases.
  2. One out of two patients with rare diseases is a child. Ninety percent of rare diseases don’t have an FDA treatment. 
  3. In rare diseases, teams should focus on better communicating with patients and caregivers on their journeys. This requires internal training in psychosocial and cognitive-behavioral practices.


Stray observations:

  • How to provide the best support for rare disease situations:
    • Lead with empathy and compassion when looking at rare disease journeys; engagement and empowerment are key with these patient populations.
    • What are the other barriers to access? Daily challenges and concerns? Impacts to quality of life? 
    • Personalization is especially important since the populations are smaller and more specific. 
    • Quick start programs should be a priority. 
    • Gene therapy — an opportunity for future disease treatment and modification. 
    • An overlooked aspect; focusing on caregiver support. Do they even know they are caregivers? 
    • Additional physician interviews through market research. 
    • Outside of adherence, explore how to coach rare disease patients on lifestyle changes. 


Achieve Better Patient Outcomes through Tech-Enabled Adherence Programs

Speaker: Renee Vandal, Senior Director, Product Marketing, Connective Rx 


Top 3 takeaways: 

  1. People are slow to adopt technology unless there is a major disruption. Like COVID-19. Now, 80% of Americans believe they can receive the same level of care with telehealth, resulting in a 3,000%+ increase in telehealth visits.
  2. The dollars matter. Patients can’t be adherent to a drug they can’t afford. 
  3. Tech needs to make life simple, not more complex. Technology must be convenient for patients to increase usage and streamline the journey.


Stray observations: 

  • Specialty pharmacy is a new experience for most patients; there are many confusing steps and new terms to learn. Patients will start research on their own through Google; when they look deeper into areas such as cost and side effects, they might be even more confused. 
  • Having tech in place (SMS, mobile web, mobile app) fosters immediate brand engagement after diagnosis.


Innovative Model Manufacturer Showcase – Practical Expertise from Industry Experts Enhancing Access, Affordability, and Analytics

Speakers: Ian Ocilka, Senior Vice President, Client Solutions, ConnectiveRx; Dave Macleod, Head of Patient Services and Specialty Pharmacy Operations, Amylyx Pharmaceuticals; Liam Moy, Senior Director, Patient Services, Neurology, Alexion Pharmaceuticals


Top 3 takeaways: 

  1. Patient services are no longer a luxury; they’re a must-have. Drugs are getting more complex and the need for patient services is increasing. Patients are spending less time with their doctors and are relying more on support teams.  
  2. Calling tech support! Pharma is looking for easy-to-integrate technology solutions to support its patients and support teams. 
  3. Nothing beats the human touch. People are looking for connections; you need a live person calling patients. The heart of support is someone calling the patient and asking, “How are you doing?”


Stray observations: 

  • Best practices during the age of Covid:
    • This has been a unique situation for everyone, but patient services pivoted easily. There has been little disruption to patients during this time. 
    • If you have a phone and a computer, you can get things done. PSS can now be a fully remote department that takes advantage of nationwide recruiting, regional support, etc. 
    • The challenge is cultivating culture and training. This requires more planning and forethought.
    • It’s all about asking the right questions at the right time. 
  • Working from home is going to be the new normal for patient support teams, though large team-building activities will continue to happen in-office. 
  • Patients’ environments have also shifted; with so many working from home, they don’t have to sneak away to a private space to make a call to their doctor/support team.


And last but not least, takeaways from a discussion led by one of our own… 


The Shopper’s Guide to Digital Patient Connectivity

Speaker: Yishai Knobel, Co-founder and CEO, HelpAround


Top 3 takeaways: 

  • Hubs beyond the phone call: How do you bring digital connectivity to patient services? Here are five mistakes to avoid: ignoring consumer trends, relying on vendor-specific technology, relying on only one mode of interaction, designing patient workflows from scratch, and not personalizing each patient’s experience.
  • Copay and PAP programs without paper: Data should inform your choices, including how to prioritize digitization options. 
  • Every patient journey is unique. You need a solution that is flexible, modular, configurable, and reportable. 


Stray observations: 

  • Twenty-two percent of visitors to your brand’s site are using a desktop; 78% are using mobile; people want to access your site. Post-Covid, consumers expect easy experiences that are immediate, app-free, and print-free.
  • Layers of technology aren’t the answer; adding countless programs, vendors, and points of failure just increase costs and complexity.   


View the recording of Yishai’s presentation here.


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Stay tuned for The Quick Skinny from the Coupon and Copay Conference, coming in the first week of November.