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Break down those silos and work across internal and external stakeholders.

Follow the five-piece blog series to learn the components of a successful patient support program, featuring Nareda Mills, Senior Vice President at Ashfield Clinical.

In my first blog post in this series on how to deliver successful patient support, we discussed the need to base our planning on clearly stated organizational objectives. These should be based on the patient and stakeholders’ experience along with the identified potential barriers of the therapy.

Essentially, we are saying that disease doesn’t occur in a vacuum for those experiencing it, for those caring for patients, or those trying to cure it. Therefore, for any patient support program to be successful, it needs to transcend the operational silos so prominent within the pharmaceutical industry.

What does this mean exactly?

Departments must work together, not just in sharing data, but in coordinating goals and objectives from the start.  Everyone involved with the plan needs to understand who are the internal stakeholders and who owns the project. Then, all need to take into account what success looks like to each stakeholder and work across departments from the start to build in the steps to reach the desired outcomes.

Certainly each department will expect different outcomes from the plan and all should be given their required consideration:

  • HEOR teams like to see and measure disease outcomes, address quality of life and safety information along with adverse events, and explore real world data.
  • Brand teams want successful launches and penetration delivering market share increase – all requiring demonstrated value to the patient as well as the reimbursement required for patient access.
  • Medical teams would like patients to stay on their medications to achieve desired outcomes, and to that end, closely follow adherence data.

And sorting through all of this is just the beginning. It is essential to be engaged with external stakeholders in order to understand their needs throughout the disease experience, and build a plan to include those needs as well. And needless to say, there are a lot of them.  The following graphic gives an overview of the concerns of the many stakeholders involved in the disease and its outcome.Patient support plan - External stakeholders

Designing a program that satisfies the needs of these groups can be overwhelming, but absolutely necessary. Developing a map of the total stakeholder experience at program design, one that demonstrates where each interaction takes place with the patient and how each stakeholder intersects, is a great way to make sure that the patient support plan is covering both internal and external objectives.

Of course then comes the hard work of determining the communication messages to reach each audience. What will motivate them? What are their drivers? What is that sweet spot benefiting everyone?

And if we think this is difficult, we have just begun. Communicating sometimes requires changing behaviors to achieve our goals. Find out more in part three of our blog Patient Support Program series.

Need more information?

Contact Nareda Mills at

Nareda Mills is Senior Vice President at Ashfield Clinical USA and works diligently in the support of client patients throughout North America.  An actively registered nurse with 15+ years of historical clinical practice behind her, she draws upon real life experience to assist clients in developing programs to better serve patients and their caregivers with feedback to their administering health care professionals.

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