Industry Experts Weigh in on Patient Support at eyeforpharma in Philadelphia

 |  Jessica Behrendsen

A provider with a family

There is a growing expectation from patients to have more visibility and support, not only in their care, but in every aspect of the clinical experience, from appointment to diagnosis and therapy.

The good news: The relentless ingenuity of healthcare IT and drug manufacturers are making it possible for all stakeholders to connect and present a more positive experience for patients. Our recent visit to Philadelphia for eyeforpharma was an opportunity to learn more about what is happening in the life science landscape. What we saw was an overarching vision aligned on helping patients.

We paid close attention to the panel “Create the ideal eco-system of patient support that delivers results” moderated by our vice president of operations, Erica Conroy, to zero in on where we stand as an industry when it comes to patient support, and where we’re headed.

Panel members:

  • Andre Cote - VP/COO, Eli Lilly Canada
  • Meredith Hardy – Founder, We Love Hope
  • Samir Shaikh – Deputy Director for Patient Affairs in the Office of the Commissioner, FDA
  • Matt Zeller – VP, Head of US Patient and Specialty Services, Novartis
  • Samantha John – Head – UCB Cares, UCB

The group shared their insights on topics ranging from patient experience to the utilization of technology:

Patient Experience

Patient advocate and founder of We Love Hope, Meredith Hardy, pieced out the frustrating journey a patient takes, which often starts before they arrive at their doctor’s office, “Prior to an appointment, patients identify and perform extensive research to select their doctors. Obtaining these appointments and getting approval for the appointment is an intense game in itself.”

In addition, patients are compiling histories, lists of mediations and extensive concerns to share with their doctor so they can get the most out of their visit. Providers and patients want the same thing — a meaningful and valuable conversation that drives patient care. That being stated, as an industry, are we doing all we can to ensure this is the case?

Are we thinking about products that makes these important visits productive and transparent, not only for the provider, but the patient as well?

According to Novartis' Vice President and Head of U.S. Patient and Specialty Services, Matt Zeller, we could be more cognizant of the patient. Zeller states, “there is no source of truth, no common standard” patients and providers can land on, and the complexity of this from a patient navigation standpoint will continue to have the opposite effect of what we want (i.e. non-adherence).

FDA Deputy Director for Patient Affairs, Samir Shaikh, concluded that being a patient is hard work and we need to move to ease the preparation burden from patients so they can go into an appointment with confidence in the system.

Optimized Patient Programs

Learning patient needs and concerns was number one across the panel. By sharing these insights with product teams, Head of UCB Cares, Samantha John, was able to refine existing programs. Shaikh added a similar sentiment in that having patients involved in the conversations around strategies for engagement from the beginning is imperative to medical product development and regulatory discussion.

Eli Lilly Canada VP/COO, Andre Cote, stressed the importance of building the “right rapport and knowledge” to drive adherence for individual patients. It’s critical to know the individual sitting at the provider’s office and understand what’s important to them in terms of staying on therapy. For example: What drives patients to enroll in programs that could benefit their health and adherence?

This correlates to what is the perceived “biggest barrier” to getting patients on therapy, which is lack of knowledge of available resources. Getting providers on board with the solutions the industry is developing is step one to patient access.

If a patient understands their trusted doctor endorses a particular solution, they’re more likely to participate. We need to step back and find better ways to translate this information from the provider to the patient and show the true value of what we’re developing.

Patient Intervention

John drove her point home that there are many areas of the patient journey where the industry can intervene to create a more positive experience. She stated, “Patients want to know as much as possible about the product, their access to it and the affordability of it, how to administer and dose, and other key questions that may impact their compliance and persistency.”

While we work to find solutions to solve the aforementioned concerns, we can utilize provider-focused programs such as RxBenefit Clarity, which creates transparency on behalf of the provider at the point of prescribing. They can then share this information with the patient before they ever leave the office.

Leveraging Technology to Support Patients

Zeller emphatically stated we must embrace technology and take bold steps to drive adoption. He went on to discuss the importance of driving uniformity in data standards and how we exchange interaction across networks. “All of us should be on calls each week, listening to patients... pushing for how we help increase efficiency across the network.”

Shaikh added we need technology that, “drives behavioral changes and not just data storage” for providers and pharmacists. This could include anything from mobile apps to technology capturing and analyzing anecdotal and social media, based on patient-experience data and behavior.

As an industry, it’s imperative we begin to create personalized patient journeys. As Cote stated, it comes down to knowing each individual patient and building the right rapport. We must keep patients at the center, involve them in conversations when developing technology and we must remember they are the reason we’re doing this work. Only then can we build products that ease the journey and help patients get the medication they need to live healthy lives.

Opinions expressed are solely those of the panel and do not necessarily reflect the views of respective employers.

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