Enhancing Pharma’s Patient Support Services

Contributed by:

Kate Perry, PsychD, Director of Behavioral Science, Atlantis Healthcare

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As experts in health-related behavior change and treatment adherence, we are often approached by pharma to augment existing patient support services for a brand or product portfolio. Many recognize the need for enhancement yet express concern about change, wanting to avoid any change that may be perceived as too disruptive for the organization or the patient experience.

With 20+ years of experience in patient support, we know how to successfully balance the need for change with the stability of organizational and service continuity.

Understanding the Wider Ecosystem

No two pharma companies are organized alike, and when it comes to the delivery of patient services there can be significant differences in strategy and approach. Increasingly, however, we are seeing pharma seeking to extend their patient services offering beyond standard disease education and A&R support – to more personalized and ongoing support. Often this focuses on addressing the psychosocial barriers to treatment adherence. This is a significant move, and one that is aligned with the evidence base and a patient-centric philosophy.

How pharma realizes their patient support strategy and approach will necessarily depend on the composition of their patient support ecosystem – and the degree to which all players are coordinated and seamlessly integrated.

It is critical to identify the main players in that ecosystem, to recognize their roles and responsibilities, and to understand how they integrate and work together. This provides the foundation for improving efficiency and efficacy from an organizational standpoint. It also helps to ensure that the patient experience with the resources and services is consistent, coherent and connected.

While the composition of the ecosystem varies across companies, it typically includes three familiar players:

An agency of record (AOR) to support the design of patient materials (among other responsibilities)

A resource, such as Hub or Specialty Pharmacy, to support A&R and deliver ongoing case manager or nurse support

A CRM or technology platform to prompt and deliver patient interactions, whether SMS, email, telephone or face-to-face

Working Collaboratively With Existing Partners

As a specialized treatment adherence organization, we work directly with all players to augment existing patient services to support individuals to adhere to treatment as prescribed. Collaboration is key. Consider these examples as models for successful partnership:

When working in digital and print media, we develop the patient support content to ensure it addresses the appropriate adherence challenges. In developing content, we apply behavior change techniques (BCTs) and work collaboratively alongside the AOR to leverage the brand style guide, brand creative and knowledge. The AOR is often well-versed in the approvals process, and we take guidance from their experiences to make certain that content is aligned and falls within the med-legal guidelines.

When patient support is delivered over the telephone, we develop the call scripts or talking guides and train the call center, Hub or Specialty Pharmacy teams so that their interactions with patients are proactive, more meaningful and effective in supporting ongoing treatment adherence. This training goes beyond patient-centric communication skills and is delivered by members of our in-house health psychology team who have both academic and applied experience in supporting health-related behavior change.

To ensure the implementation of truly personalized patient support, we integrate our technology with pharma’s existing systems, whether they be internal or third party. Our proprietary technology allows us to personalize support so that patients receive the right message at the right time. We know that one-size-fits-all approaches to improving adherence simply do not work. That’s why it is important that the technology being used to deliver support is capable of delivering support that is personalized.

Managing Change in Personalized Support

Consistent with a patient-centric ethos, the delivery of personalized patient support should be the expectation, not the exception. Enhancement does not mean disrupting the relationships, processes and arrangements that a pharma company already has in place for the delivery of patient support. Rather, enhancement typically involves supporting a coordinated and consistent effort across all vendor partners, while ensuring that the patient experience is personalized and connected, rather than being a one-size-fits-all approach and a disjointed experience.(PV)

Atlantis Healthcare creates award-winning, personalized patient support programs to improve treatment adherence and self-management. We use expertise in health psychology and behavior change to deliver effective solutions for life science clients and healthcare organizations seeking to improve patient outcomes.
For more information, contact us at

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