As patients, providers and caregivers are tasked with managing increasingly complex treatment regiments, patient support programs have become a critical part of specialty care efforts.
Such programs, which are generally funded by pharmaceutical manufacturers, can help patients by way of financial assistance, education, medication adherence programs, counseling, in-home visits, telephone support, or a variety of other services that aim to remove barriers to care.
As of now, 86 percent of the oncologists surveyed either somewhat or strongly agree that education and adherence programs can help improve patient outcomes in the management of chronic disease. Yet, oncologists said the availability and usefulness of such programs remain a challenge.
"The physicians may feel this way for several reasons," said Jennifer Fillman, vice president and general manager of Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions. "Those include lack of awareness of the existence of these programs, lack of information on how to access these programs, or poor experience with these programs in the past."
More than 86 percent of oncologists say that pharmaceutical companies should play a larger role in financial support programs. In general, oncologists feel that the active promotion of these programs — either through sales, science liaisons, or direct-to-consumer marketing — will play a key role in increasing their use and efficacy.
The issues of changing reimbursement models, increased demand for provable outcomes, and desire for improved patient support programs may not have straightforward solutions. But it's clear that oncologists need more support and guidance in their quest to advance cancer care.