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The promise and challenges of workflow integration for patient support programs

By AmerisourceBergen

By Era Prakash

Biopharma-sponsored patient support programs are valuable resources that provide access to high-cost specialty therapies for patients. But these programs are not reaching as many patients as they could – which has a lot to do with challenges in the patient enrollment process.

Effective workflow integration can help biopharma companies overcome the barriers to patient support program uptake. This new alternative promises to streamline program enrollment by automatically identifying qualified patients and removing cumbersome enrollment steps.

Delivering on this promise, however, requires biopharma companies to solve a new set of problems. One of the biggest challenges is to integrate with multiple workflow technology providers, which is needed to reach a meaningful share of providers. To address these challenges, Cencora has developed Access Network, a workflow integration solution that enables biopharma companies to avoid the hurdle of multipartner integrations — and optimize support program utilization.



Era Prakash, Vice President, Product Management at Cencora


Factors Limiting Program Utilization

Most medical providers — including physicians, patient care teams, and administrative support staff — know that patient support programs are available. But matching a patient’s needs and eligibility criteria to a specific program creates a significant administrative burden. And the burden doesn’t stop there. The channels used for enrolling patients — fax and online portals — create enrollment friction, delays, and a poor provider experience.

Faxed and eFaxed enrollment forms entail a labor-intensive manual process, both for providers and the program support staff processing the forms. Cencora’s analysis found that completing a data intake fax workflow can take patient support program staff 20 to 40 minutes. This process can also delay patients’ access to therapy due to ineffective communication between the provider’s office and support program staff.

In response to fax limitations, biopharma created online portals for patient support program enrollment. Providers, however, have not embraced these in many cases where fax remains their preferred channel. We found that in one program, the majority of provider offices use fax more than half the time and online portals less than 10% of the time.


A primary reason behind the low utilization of online portals for certain programs is portal fatigue. Providers are already using multiple digital tools during their workday, and online portals add to the strain of managing numerous logins and switching among all these existing systems.


How Workflow Integration Can Help Increase Utilization

Workflow integration can help solve both the provider awareness and enrollment problems. With workflow integration, providers can easily enroll patients within the EHR or other workflow technology they’re already using.

For instance, a notification could be programmed to appear in the EHR or workflow platform when the provider submits a prescription and the patient meets eligibility criteria for a specific program. From there, the provider can conveniently and efficiently enroll that patient through the EHR or workflow tool.

Workflow integration is not about placing an advertisement in the EHR, as many vendors currently do, and hoping someone will click on it – which may then actually take them out of the EHR. When done well, workflow integration is putting the service at the right point in the clinical workflow where the right user can seamlessly access the right data required to use that service.

Workflow Market Integration Challenges

Achieving this result, however, is daunting for biopharma companies on their own. They would need to address three major challenges related to the provider workflow technology market:

1. Market fragmentation

The provider workflow technology market is highly fragmented, with no dominant player. The market consists of hundreds of vendors, such as EHRs used primarily by health systems and other workflow technologies designed for specific therapeutic areas used by specialty practices. To reach a meaningful share of providers, biopharma companies need to implement a multipartner strategy that includes numerous standalone integrations.

2. Integration and management costs

Each partner integration requires significant resources, including capital investments for the initial setup and ongoing management of the partner relationships. Additionally, support program staff must continuously cross-analyze partners’ performance to ensure the multipartner strategy is working as envisioned.

3. Technology usage behaviors

Each site of care type within the wider healthcare ecosystem — not just health systems and specialty practices, but also specialty pharmacies, infusion centers, and other sites that have become critical to care delivery — approaches workflow technologies differently. Workflow integration has to consider and accommodate those disparities, which in itself is a huge, complicated undertaking.


Introducing Access Network

Integrating patient support program enrollment into provider workflows can help biopharma companies increase access to much-needed therapies and Rx pull-through. But this effort is very complex and expensive. Cencora’s Access Network was designed in response to these biopharma struggles.

Our workflow integration solution offers connectivity that spans multiple provider workflow technologies to deliver an in-workflow, digitized enrollment process. Access Network improves accuracy, efficiency, and speed to therapy by providing easier access to patient support programs, along with actionable enrollment insights that improve brand performance — all with a single connection.

Connect with us

To learn how Access Network can benefit your patient support program, contact Cencora today.