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Designing patient support programs that deliver on their promise

Patient support programs have often been seen as supplemental rather than an essential part of drug treatments.  But with lack of adherence causing thousands of unnecessary deaths a year, more pharma companies have realized that patient support programs can help patients and/or patient caregivers to manage and properly adhere to a treatment process. The goal of a support program is to support patient access to complex medication while also helping them navigate a complex healthcare system. 

Herspiegel works with companies to deliver optimal healthcare experiences for patients by developing support programs for their clients where patients start, stay and succeed. 

In order for patient support programs to deliver on their promise, they need to be more sophisticated, with a greater emphasis on providing services to the patient throughout the course of their treatment plan. This means ensuring that patients:

  • Take their medication correctly
  • Are educated about the disease and recovery process
  • Understand that lifestyle changes are part of the treatment program
  • Have the ability to manage medication schedules
  • Know where to get financial support
  • Can easily find answers to their questions

Key Steps in Designing a Key Patient Experience

The most important thing for pharmaceutical companies to do in order to build a successful and well-designed, patient-centric support program is to spend a lot of time upfront thoroughly documenting the problems they need to solve for their patients.  This includes weaknesses, barriers, and anything else that would get in the way of a patient’s positive experience with the brand.  With this information in hand, stakeholders can discuss, debate, and prioritize pain points and design programs that are both flexible and customizable. 

In today’s landscape patient support programs hold the power to revolutionize the healthcare and pharma sector. For any program to be deemed a success, it must be designed with individualized support in mind.  The engagement points with the patients should be authentic and thoughtful, so that they feel heard. Only then will they find the treatment meaningful and actionable. Herspiegel works with their clients to help them obtain insights from current programs and consider what each channel should and could deliver; for example, reading versus video and helping people navigate their unique questions to get them the answers they need.

Client Example: Designing the Ideal Support Program

Once companies have a list of problems to solve they are truly ready to design an ecosystem that will drive business forward. For example, our client used this approach to design the ideal experience for their obesity program.

For our client understanding their customer was key to designing the right program.  When they designed their support program for their obesity drug product launch, they understood that support is critical for weight loss.  They realized that if they solved the problem the traditional way they would place undue complex burden on the patients. So they found a solution focused on tackling the problems from a customer experience perspective. They went to cross-functional teams to design solutions in real-time using critical thinking. They made sure they considered all angles and that all the experiences were feasible.

A blueprint ecosystem was born and that’s what they used to build out their solution in phases. Tackling the problems to solve from the customer experience perspective was key.  The main thing that our client understood was that there was no such thing as launching the perfect program from day 1.  What they did was put out a Minimally Viable Product (MVP) and then they could listen and iterate. 

The patient support program addressed the needs, desired experiences and also found the right channel experiences for their consumers. Some examples include: 

  • Transactional information in the form of text
  • Educational information delivered by video 
  • Addressing people’s preferences on how and when they want to get information 
  • Adding elements of mental health into their support 
  • Telemedicine or eHealth options for those who don’t want to go to a physical office

Our client created their program in a way that reduced or eliminated barriers for their patients to get them to stay and succeed in their weight loss journeys. By creating a support program that took the burden off of the patient it allowed them to demonstrate value and remain engaged throughout the patient journey as well as evolve their program over time using data-driven insights. They were able to look beyond how the program itself was performing to how the program was delivering. The program connected all the right dots to help patients overcome barriers; it also helped the product reach commercial success at launch and after launch. 

Are your patient support programs enrolling and retaining patients?

Herspiegel leverages decades of commercial pharmaceutical expertise and innovations in the marketplace to partner with our clients on patient services strategy and implementation. Let’s talk.

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Herspiegel is a leading professional services firm helping biotech start-ups and the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies navigate the path from science to brand performance and change patients’ lives. We are committed to using strategic insights from medical to commercial to market access to solve critical problems.