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The emergence of Patient Care Services in the Pharmaceutical market.

by Derek Del Simone on May 20, 2014
View Derek's LinkedIn profile here

7 years ago an Australian Business Unit Director at a top 10 Global pharma company had a unique plan to defend the market share of his speciality product. He fought hard for his idea, which resulted in the creation of a Patient Care Services Manager role; the first of its kind, within the organisation globally.

7 years ago a close friend embarked on a new professional challenge and accepted that very same role. Over the years I have heard that friend say, “The Sales and Marketing team just don’t know what I do” or “They don’t see the value in what I offer”. Over the last 36 months that initial concept had grown tenfold. That friend has been credited internally, for single handed defending their market share against a generic. Has launched a new speciality product’s Patient Support Program (PSP); has now rolled out that program globally. Is mentoring regional offices wanting to launch a PSP, and has set the internal best practice standard, for PSPs globally. Has had his PSPs credited for ensuring patient adherence and retention. More importantly colleagues are seeing the value in PSP programs and he is working with a number of Business and Marketing managers locally and globally to create Patient Support Programs for their products to help patients but also to retain them.

A pharma rep has done their job, they have detailed to the GP / Specialist, they have a great product, the GP / Specialist writes a script for the product. WIN! Patient goes to chemist, fills script. WIN! But how do you keep that patient on your product? We are constantly bombarded with options or new information; we are always asking “What is best for me?” Or “Is this the best option for me?”. In a lot of cases a patient just has to walk into the chemist with a brand prescription and if there is a generic option they are offered it. So how do you keep your patient on your product? At the end of the day it is much harder to find new consumers than it is to retain a consumer. Pharma companies are starting to understand the reality of this and realise to handle this, Patient Care Services may be exactly what is required.

In today’s society we have more options to choose from as the competition is greater; and as consumers / patients we have more available information and control when it comes to our health decisions. Patient Care Services in the Pharma arena is just like a Frequent Flyer program for travel industry. Patients want benefits for using a product; they want access to information to help them manage their health.

In today’s digital age there is a thirst for knowledge; majority of us will research information online before we buy a product. When we buy that product we want to know what guarantee we have or after care service or support is offered. Pharmaceutical industry shouldn’t be any different, but there has been a gap in what we as consumers are getting and what some pharmaceutical companies have been providing.

There are a number of pharmaceutical companies who are upping the ante to help adherence to their drug and as a result ensuring patient retention to their Brand. Life Science companies are turning to Smart phones to develop Apps for their patients. One Pharma company has developed an App to help their MS patients understand where to inject their drug, help them remember to rotate injection sites, and tips to help reduce swelling if it occurs. One Pharma company provides their referring specialist with patient health education documents that helps the patient with managing their illness. This can be as simple as Recipes and dietary tips for sufferers of Macular Degeneration, where studies have shown diet can help with eye health. Other companies are tailoring their product, to help patients overcome obesity, smoking cessation or deal with COPD.

Patient care services’ primary objective is to assist in drug adherence, and giving the patient access to relevant and important information. The ability to provide this and ensure adherence can and will improve health outcomes for patients. Being able to achieve patient adherence and satisfying our consumer thirst for information secures Brand and Product loyalty, which helps with sales thanks to the retention of the patient.

Patient Support Programs and Patient Care Services are a challenge there will be a lot of questions raised. Can the PSP drive a tangible return on Investment? Will the community (patient & healthcare professional) trust the information provided? Then there are a lot of data privacy, and compliance challenges that are raised when developing patient support programs / Patient care services, and will be one of the largest obstacles companies face as they work through the minefield to find the best responsible solution to provide their patients with the information they want and need.

From what we are seeing in the market whether it’s called a Patient Support Program or Patient Care Service, this is the a new frontier the Pharma industry is embarking on and it’s becoming a relevant part of their marketing and brand presence.

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