Despite recent efforts to improve patient support programs, their impact has, in some areas, yet to be felt. For example, in a Cardinal Health survey of oncologists about patient education and adherence programs offered by pharma companies, only 8 percent said such programs are readily available, easy to use and effective.
One common challenge among pharma companies is that, historically, they have had little direct interaction with patients, typically relying on information provided by other stakeholders, such as providers, pharmacists and payers.
"There can be many patient barriers to care, such as financial constraints, a lack of access to transportation for appointments, confusion about enrollment in assistance programs or appealing to insurance companies,” explained Jennifer Fillman, vice president and general manager for Cardinal Health Specialty Services. “A lot of education needs to take place, but without a direct connection to patients, it can be difficult for pharma companies to know just where and how that assistance should be directed."
Patient data that could help fill those gaps — and help improve support programs — is, in theory, widely available. However, as the Harvard Business Review notes, it has been a challenge for companies to consolidate such data and translate it into actionable information.
In response, many pharma companies are looking to outside partnerships to help fill those gaps. Enter hub services firms, or patient services providers, which act on behalf of pharma companies as an interface with patients, providers, payers and the other stakeholders involved in patient treatment.
"Hub data is one of the most underrated data sources available to pharmaceutical companies," explained Fillman. "It is one of the few places where companies interact with patients, providers, payers and pharmacies simultaneously."