Skip to content

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.

 Step one of Patient Support Blog Series:  Define your objectives and be able to measure, report on them.

patient support programsPatient support is critical in today’s healthcare delivery system. Non-adherence is costing the U.S. upwards of $290 billion or 13% of total healthcare costs each year.1 The pharmaceutical industry cannot afford to lose the revenue, and the overtaxed healthcare system cannot continue to carry the burden of these staggering non-adherence costs.

So how do we get patients into a pattern of adherence and compliance? Most experts agree that it starts with patients understanding the value of their treatment and then properly following a treatment plan. Hence the rise in patient support programs throughout the industry to address patient education and treatment concerns.


Defining objectives

But patient support programs will most likely lack in impact if they do not start with clearly stated and understood organizational objectives toward patients and their therapy. These objectives should take into consideration:

  • What is the patient experience, or “journey” as it is commonly called, throughout their disease discovery, diagnosis and treatment?

Gone are the days when a doctor can simply dictate treatment and have that treatment followed. Patients and their caregivers are more educated and involved in their diagnosis and care than ever before. To truly understand what a patient experiences, one must listen to patients, caregivers, patient advocates and health care professionals on their perceptions and experiences, and then use the insights gained to better understand the psychological and social factors in play along the way.

Many in the industry are recognizing this need and are instituting panels with physicians, and sometimes patients, to understand the disease and its treatment from the user perspective. Much more can be done in this regard. To that end, listening to patient panels has taught us that patients are not receptive to the industry terminology of “patient journey”; to patients, it implies that their disease state is akin to embarking on a vacation. Dealing with a disease is certainly not a vacation and patients prefer to call it an experience.

  • What are the therapy’s failure points? How do you best communicate these to the patient populations? What is the overall risk to the company?
  • What is the revenue value of the medication per patient if adhered to properly throughout the course of treatment?
  • How long will the product be on the market under patent protection?
  • What are the expected health outcomes and how do these differ based on demographics and disease states?
  • What quality of life can the patient expect?
  • What about the stakeholders experience? How do they factor into the equation?

Once these factors are understood, objectives can be established for a patient support program that will truly meet organizational goals while optimizing patient outcomes. Setting these goals will be meaningless however, without measurement and reporting on how successful the program is in meeting the goals, so that appropriate adjustments can be made throughout the product lifecycle when necessary to stay on course.

Measuring programs

Program measurement requires data collection and for patient support programs we need to collect data on the key performance indicators of:

  • Quality (both patient and HCP satisfaction), compliance and ADE /PTC reporting;
  • Productivity based on site and patient enrollments, and patient uptake;
  • Clinical encompassing patient reported outcomes, clinical outcomes, length of time on treatment, adherence and persistence and drop-off rates; and finally
  • Commercial that measures return on investment, cost-efficiency, sales performance and market share.

This data can be overwhelming at times, but it is important to keep our eye on its ability to drive value within the organization and support regulatory requirements, pricing and reimbursement, and scientific publication.

Objectives. Data. Reports. These are tough assignments for sure, but ones well worth the investment in terms of return on optimizing patient outcomes and impacting the bottom line.  Of course, none of this works if we can’t learn to talk within our own organizations. More on that next time.

Click here to view part two of our Patient Support Program blog series.

Receive all of our latest blog entries straight to your inbox!