Patient-Centric Product Commercialization: Part Two

By Amy Grogg |

Part two: Making the philosophy a reality.

Part 1 of this series explored the empowered patient, factors influencing the treatment journey and how understanding and integrating different stakeholders' roles in the patient experience will be critical to commercial success in the age of the empowered and highly engaged patient.

What does a truly patient-centric approach entail? Finding out is an experience as immersive as it is rewarding.

Mapping the Patient Journey

As a best practice, brand teams should map the patient experience relative to key events, condition, therapeutic regimen and all of the factors influencing treatment. An example of a patient journey map is illustrated in Figure 2 below.

Figure 2: The Patient Journey

Gaining insight into the patient journey requires studying the patient as a whole person, and that level of research demands data from multiple sources. Fortunately, the breadth and depth of data available continues to grow, and manufacturers can gain an advantage by continually analyzing the right data in order to understand the patient experience in new ways. But during a recent IMS Health patient journey webinar, 28 percent of brand teams indicated that quantifying the journey is the biggest area of challenge in building and using it.1 What is the right data? And when/how should manufacturers be using data? Figure 3 below offers a high-level approach to mining various data sources.

Figure 3: Data Sources for Patient Insights

The more manufacturers use and mine the data available to them, the more effective their programs will be in terms of true patient-centricity.

Aligning Solutions to the Patient Journey

Once the patient journey is mapped, it will become more evident where support programs make the most sense and add the most value. It is at this point in the process that the value of choosing a commercialization partner that can bridge the gap between understanding the journey and designing the solution crystalizes.

The most successful support programs are targeted to the patient.They are right-sized and designed in a targeted way to support the needs of a specific patient population by addressing the three biggest hurdles patients face:

  • Access. Services and solutions that help patients overcome barriers to receiving treatment are essential, but basic reimbursement support services are table stakes in today's complex managed care environment. Field reimbursement teams for providers can add an additional layer of assistance that speeds uptake and eases this confusing, emotional time for patients. The same is true for integrated pharmacy technology that intervenes on prior authorizations. In addition, services like coverage education and enrollment assistancecan extend and complement manufacturer-sponsored programs in a patient-centric way.
  • Affordability. Helping patients manage the financial burden of therapy is the next step in improving access, and tailored co-pay programs can ensure ongoing affordability. Whether designed to cover the initial fill, out-of-pocket expenses or as claims adjudication vouchers, financial assistance programs should put patients' ongoing needs first.
  • Adherence. Adherence programs range from straightforward welcome calls and reminder services to those with skilled clinical staff who can navigate patients through side effects and concomitant medications or motivational interviewing to assess the types of outreach patients might respond best to. Manufacturers must look at adherence through a patient's eyes, designing the adherence offering with the patient in mind to engage and empower the patient to be an active participant in their own care. Because no two patients are alike, a one-size-fits-all intervention strategy is rarely effective in sustaining the types of behavioral changes needed to promote therapeutic adherence. And the fact is patients need much more than medicine when they have life-threatening and chronic illnesses. Manufacturers that offer concierge services based on a holistic understanding of the patient journey - from caregiver support and transportation to groceries and wigs - will help to remove an overwhelming set of barriers to staying on therapy.

The Impact of Access on Channel Decisions

Changing market dynamics mean more options for distribution - and more complex decision-making - about how and where to make a product available (open or limited distribution, wholesale or specialty distributor, etc.). But an effective commercialization plan must go beyond simply making a product available. A distribution strategy that drives product accessibility is a critical consideration for a patient-centric commercialization strategy. Manufacturers should evaluate the impact of their channel strategies on the patient experience. For complex specialty therapies, questions to consider might include:

  • Could a specialty pharmacy network improve the patient experience by offering an additional layer of education and clinical support and connecting patients to manufacturer-sponsored support programs?
  • Does the size of the patient population, side effect profile and/or dosing regimen make sense for open distribution?
  • Given the significant financial pressure and increasing expectations for immediate success across the continuum, is partnering with a specialty distributor to determine appropriate access -  properly defining the optimal way to get product to the right patient at the right time - the right solution?

Ultimately, what manufacturers should bear in mind is that a product is only truly accessible when a patient has access to it via a route unhindered by the complexities of the marketplace.

Part 3 in this series explores the process of building patient-centric support programs and overcoming obstacles.

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

About the Author

Amy Grogg

Amy Grogg

Senior Vice President Emeritus, Strategy & Commercialization
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