Patient-Centric Product Commercialization: Part Three

By Amy Grogg |

Part three: Building value into support programs. 

Part 2 of this series offered actionable insights for understanding the patient experience as part of an overall commercialization plan.

While technology and data are powerful tools for patients, programs that put the patient first combine high-tech with high-touch. A balanced patient support program will provide the data and automation that manufacturers, providers and patients need without sacrificing the personal care patients rely on. Figure 4 illustrates what that balance might look like for a typical patient support program:

Figure 4: Balancing High-Touch With High-Tech

More than 70 percent of online patients in the United States use the Internet to find healthcare information.Manufacturers that don't recognize the "consumer" aspect of making their solutions available digitally, or that automation is essential in the provider world, may fall behind. But there are a few other considerations that should factor in when integrating e-services like enrollment, benefits verification, education and prior authorization. Technology solutions must:

  • Fit within the provider's existing workflow and not require physicians to change their business operations
  • Meet Meaningful Use standards and ensure Protected Health Information (PHI) compliance
  • Allow for relevant and significant data capture that can be used for a more prescriptive and personalized patient experience

Manufacturers should always remember that even when solutions are designed to smoothly integrate with provider workflows and patients' lives, there will always be some who are resistant to adopting technology. This is where the right high-touch offering can make a program truly patient-centric. Successful program design recognizes that high-tech does not replace those high-touch, face-to-face communications, but helps to foster relationships through multiple touch points, including email, reminder texts, web chat with nurses, patient portals and increased education. That can even be extended to include oncology nurse navigators who can help patients manage side effects or reimbursement counselors who can engage payers on the patient's behalf.

Ultimately, this combination should be designed to move the patient from disengaged and overwhelmed, through taking action and on to maintaining adherent behaviors and pushing further  all toward the highest level of self-management.

What Does Success Look Like?

In short, a patient-centric approach accomplishes three objectives:

  1. Uses an evidence-based, integrated plan that takes into account all stakeholder perspectives and their interaction with patients
  2. Understands and maximizes the patient journey by understanding the root causes of non-adherence
  3. Combines technology and face-to-face interaction in a meaningful way

Consider two examples from the adherence-challenged oral oncolytics space. For one product with a challenging side effect profile and disease progression, the manufacturer supplemented nurse calls prior to the start of therapy with targeted follow-up nurse calls to discuss side effect management and disease progression coping mechanisms. As a result, 60 days post therapy start persistency increased by 28 percent. In another case, an oral manufacturer was seeing a substantial increase in the discontinuation of therapy by patients experiencing significant side effects. The manufacturer introduced a side effect management curriculum that included outreach prior to the start of therapy and subsequent touch points as dictated by the plan of care and dosing schedule. Within three months of implementation, the program saw a 99 percent reduction in manageable adverse events.

Overcoming Challenges

Putting patient challenges at the forefront of product commercialization is absolutely the right thing to do. But it's not without challenges of its own. Some of the roadblocks brands may encounter include:

  • Proving best allocation of resources. While it's true that pharma budgets aren't what they used to be, and brand managers may seemingly have to choose between support programs and physician marketing,2 it may not have to be that way. The most successful programs don't necessarily require direct-to-consumer dollars or higher investment. The ultimate answer may be to elevate the idea of patient-centricity above traditional brand/marketing activities and instill it as a long-term objective outside of budget restraints, an idea many pharma CEOs are embracing.3
  • Delivering digital value. Of the most widely used mobile health apps, only 6 percent provide medication reminders and information, and only 9 percent are disease-specific.4 Given this gap in the digital space, manufacturers that don't meet patients where they are at in terms of ease of reporting and receiving information may find themselves behind. This is where an innovative patient assistance program partner can add value with program design that integrates technology solutions with patient-minded solutions.
  • Accessing the right data. What big data means to one stakeholder may be very different to another. Certain data sources are meant to help payers reimburse providers, and EMRs are primarily meant to help providers give the best care and find the appropriate treatment for patients. Data from these sources can also offer rich insights for manufacturers. The challenge is in accessing it. This is another area where a commercialization partner with the right market reach and expertise can add value in understanding the patient experience.

Why Do It?

Though the challenges are daunting, the value of patient-centricity lies in meeting the value drivers of patients. As patients must bear more of the cost for their healthcare, they will rightly expect more. They'll begin to compare the wraparound services available from different products. In addition, patient-centric offerings enable patients to remain on therapy, improving outcomes — more important than ever in a value-based reimbursement environment wherein pharma and providers face increased risk. The more manufacturers do to focus on removing barriers to access, affordability and adherence throughout the patient journey, the more value they will uncover along the way. The better outcomes patients will experience. And better outcomes give pharmaceutical companies the critical evidence they need to demonstrate the value of their most innovative products.

1. IMS Consulting Group. A New Foundation for Designing Winning Brand Strategies: The Patient Journey Re-Envisioned. 2014. Accessed 28 September 2015. Available online at Resource Center/IMSCG_Patient_Journey_WP_090714F.pdf
2. FirstWord Pharma. Patient-Centricity: Solving the Latest Pharma Puzzle. July 2013. Accessed 28 September 2015. Available online at"
3. Ibid.
4. IMS Health. Patient Adoption of mHealth.  September 2015. Accessed 28 September 2015. Available online at

About the Author

Amy Grogg

Amy Grogg

Senior Vice President Emeritus, Strategy & Commercialization
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