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In a survey of more than 360 healthcare professionals (HCPs) in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, just 40% reported being ‘very aware’ of pharmaceutical companies' patient services*. The research also revealed that nearly half of HCPs hear about patient services less than 25% of the time they meet with sales reps. When they do hear about patient services, respondents say that only 30% of pharmaceutical sales representatives present services in terms of their ability to improve patient outcomes.

Breaking down the barriers of enrollment to Patient Support Programmes

In Step 4 of our patient support series, we discussed the huge benefits of integrating channels and data. In the final instalment, we look at one the biggest hurdles to successful patient support programmes: patient enrolment.

Step 5: Enrolment tactics

Sometimes even the best patient support plans run into resistance and lead to little or no enrolment in the programme. This doesn’t mean that the entire programme needs to be scrapped, but it does call for a different, more intensive approach to getting HCPs and patients to take notice and understand the benefits of enrolment.

Field force and nurse teams

The commercial field force has a critical role to play in helping HCPs understand how to select appropriate patients for therapy, educate them on the benefits of the patient support programme, and explain how to easily enrol their patients.

Our top tips on activating the sales force and other teams for patient enrolment:

  • Ensure the patient support programme is embedded into the brand strategy or you won’t get the commercial field force on board – see our blog post on collaboration for more on how to achieve this
  • Use your nurse teams as well as sales teams to sell in the benefits of enrolment and help identify appropriate patients
  • Equip and train field force and nurses with the right messages and materials
  • Consider utilising a field service team as a highly effective and cost-efficient additional resource to promote the programme

Prescribers and HCPs

The biggest enrolment hurdle is often that HCPs are unaware of the programme, don’t understand the benefits or consider the enrolment actions too much of a burden.

Our advice to address these common issues:

  • Talk to HCPs to understand their needs and what would motivate them to enrol patients – our blog on collaboration suggests some research methodologies
  • Develop clear benefits statements and evidence of outcomes and savings (tailored as much as possible to the HCP and hospital/practice type)
  • Explain that the programme is a complementary service to the existing health services and care plan for the patient, not competing
  • Gain buy-in to the programme from KOLs and patient groups to demonstrate its value and credibility
  • Include a system for how the HCP will receive feedback on their patients enrolled into the programme
  • Provide patient feedback and success stories
  • Minimise enrolment actions for the HCP and provide different channel options such as via the web, a Freephone number and traditional fax enrolment.


When designing a patient support programme, there’s a lot of work to fully understand patient needs and adherence challenges. Catch up on Step 3 of our blog series for more on how to gain deep insight into how patients think, feel and behave.

Don’t rush into enrolment without considering how these insights can also help you communicate the benefits of enrolment to patients.

We recommend:

  • Considering how you can tailor your enrolment messages and imagery the same way you tailor care plans for individual patients
  • Providing multichannel opt-in options and an easy consent process
  • Using pharmacists to enrol patients for products dispensed through community/retail pharmacies
  • Making sure that the relevant patient associations have an understanding of the support available to patients

Ashfield has the expertise in all patient and HCP interactions to help you reach your goal – through sales reps, nurse teams, field service teams, the pharmacy channel and through tailored patient communications.

Want more information now?

 Click here to watch our on demand PSP webinar


You can also contact Nagore to find out how Ashfield can help you.


The Accenture research is based on a survey of more than 360 healthcare professionals in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, with respondents being either general practitioners or specialists in one of five main therapeutic areas: oncology, immunology, neurology, cardiology, and respiratory.

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