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Patient-Centric Solutions: Why Adaptive PSPs Are Essential

By March 1, 2024March 8th, 2024Insights, Customer Care, Customer Care Pages
Published Date: Friday, Mar 01, 2024
Last Updated on: Friday, Mar 08, 2024
Patient being supportive because of adaptive PSPs.

Patient care has never been one-dimensional, despite the best efforts of wishful cost-reduction strategists.

As the digitization of care provision and health-related services continues to grow, major pharma firms are awakening to a new standard for “patient centricity” – one that truly focuses on the individual, not just their diagnosis.

While companies have haphazardly rushed to meet new global expectations around patient support personalization, many have failed to meet the mark. Siloed data, disparate systems and poorly optimised communications have caused even further frustration for patients – and inefficiencies or blind spots for their healthcare teams. 

With global perceptions, societal influences and technological advancements changing dramatically year-on-year, traversing these already turbulent waters isn’t being made any easier. In the current landscape, patient support programs (PSPs) must be agile and adaptable to provide effective care – both for the right now, and for the future.

In this article, we’ll explore the philosophy behind building an adaptive patient support program, and how pharmaceutical firms can achieve superior outcomes for patients and HCPs on a global scale.

What is an adaptive PSP?

An adaptive PSP is a patient support program that is built on understanding patients and HCPs, their behaviors and their journeys. It is not only flexible to changing needs and engagement preferences but also shifting environmental influences such as regional regulations, national healthcare systems and emerging practical or societal barriers.

The adaptive approach is designed to serve the needs of all stakeholders and key healthcare influencers involved in the treatment lifecycle. It is typically focused on achieving six key outcomes:

Personalization: Interactions are tailored to the patient and their profile, preferences, needs, expectations and barriers to adherence.
Dynamism: The program is responsive to therapy progression, non-adherence triggers and feedback provided by patients, practitioners and nurses.
Simplicity: Providing tools and platforms that make therapy easy to access and comply with, while also simplifying connectedness between patients and healthcare teams.
Reactivity: Building a consistent view of patients, enabling programs to remain agile to emerging behaviors, urgent needs and new non-adherence signals.
Relevancy: Remaining useful and meaningful throughout the treatment journey, beyond just onboarding support and routine appointment management.
Proactivity: Using predictive modeling and AI capabilities (with the right guardrails) to support patients by anticipating emerging and immediate needs.
Sustainability: Making programs sustainable over time for support and marketing budgets, beyond loss of earnings and financial changes.
A sustainable program that is supporting patients.

What should a PSP be adaptive to?

From nurse integration to regional regulations, pharmaceutical firms must navigate a series of complex and stringent barriers for effective PSP rollout.

When designed and implemented with the right approach, an adaptive PSP can deliver value across many different objectives. Below, we outline eight key influencers that sustainable programs must be adaptive to.

Unique patient needs

There is no such thing as a linear patient journey. To create an engaging and relevant treatment experience, one size cannot fit all. Patients can face a wide variety of influences that inspire non-adherence and can fluctuate throughout the treatment journey. These can include anything from practical barriers, such as being unable to commute to appointments, to more emotional challenges, like fear to self-administer. Programs must cater to every enrollee as an individual, customizing based on varying needs and behaviors and their evolution throughout the treatment lifecycle – and at the same time, be standardized in a way that remains manageable and affordable.

Consumer behaviors

55% of patients that don’t adhere to their treatment say it’s because they want to lead a “normal life.” Patient behaviors are not static. Much like B2C and societal expectations, they shift dramatically alongside technological innovation. With instant gratification the new-norm, programs must be reactive to these expectations and remove resistance by continually modernizing and optimizing program execution without disrupting treatment journeys or efficacy.

New treatments

The rapid pace of medical innovation means that pharma companies are constantly releasing new treatments and variations. It’s critical that PSPs are built with a long-term view, agile to changes in the drug’s lifetime and flexible enough to apply to new product releases. Additionally, the program should facilitate seamless transitions between old and new treatments, ensuring continuity of care and minimizing disruptions in patient management. Hard-coding program setups can hinder adaptability, forcing pharma companies to develop standalone instances for each new product release. This can be expensive and time-consuming internally, not to mention frustrating for already overwhelmed healthcare providers.

Digital healthcare tools and third-party needs

Nurses and caregivers play integral roles in the healthcare ecosystem, providing essential support and assistance to patients. Patient support programs should extend their focus beyond enrollees to support the needs of these frontline healthcare professionals. This may involve offering training programs, access to support networks and tools for effective communication and collaboration, empowering nurses and caregivers to deliver optimal care and support wherever they are needed in the treatment journey.

Adaptive technology supporting patient journeys.

Adoption of program, engagement and outcomes

The success of a patient support program hinges on its adoption and utilization by both healthcare providers and patients. To foster adoption, the program should be designed with flexibility and accessibility in mind. This includes offering multiple channels of communication, user-friendly interfaces and tailored resources to accommodate diverse preferences and needs. Continuous feedback mechanisms should also be in place to solicit input from stakeholders and drive iterative improvements to the program based on feedback, engagement and patient outcomes.

Regional variance

Globalization has made it essential for patient support programs to be adaptable to international contexts. Programs should be designed with multipurpose functionality and adaptability to diverse regulatory environments, cultural affinities and national healthcare ecosystems as the treatment expands into new markets. This ensures that patients worldwide have access to consistent, high-quality support services tailored to their unique needs and sensitive to all regional jurisdictions. This is particularly important for treatments spanning North America and Europe, where pharma marketing regulations can differ wildly.

Budget to support the program

Adequate budgeting is essential to the sustainability and scalability of patient support programs. With an adaptive PSP, budgets can be reduced over time based on the drug’s commercial lifecycle, resource availability and cost-reduction priorities. As it begins nearing the patent expiration date, patient experience leaders should be able to scale back while maintaining engagement and continuing to achieve the same patient outcomes.

Technological advancement & AI

Technology and digital health have rapidly changed the way patients manage their conditions in recent years. With revenue in the digital health market projected to reach US$193.70 billion in 2024, programs need to be reactive to constant digital innovation. This includes predictive and generative AI, which have already shown signs of influencing the way companies will analyze patient data, predict needs and personalize care plans in the near future. Flexibility in adopting and adapting to these emerging technologies ensures that programs remain at the forefront of innovation, driving continuous improvement and optimization in patient care delivery.

different approach to patient support through therapy.

Building an adaptive PSP: Three key elements

Building an adaptive PSP means evolving a support program through consistent evaluation and optimization, making it more relevant and sustainable over time. The framework is typically built on a three-phase approach:

Identify: Use behavioral data to identify patients, their behaviors and the influences that shape their decisions.
Map: Show the journey from their point of view. Locate behavioral barriers and emotional accelerators that affect their journey.
Accelerate: Uncover the key behavioral motivators that inspire people to navigate more positively through their journey and adopt new behaviors.

While most programs will share similarities in terms of channels, platforms and content, there can be no real rinse-and-repeat. Experience leaders should build from the ground up with insights that suggest key motivators and unmet needs of providers, caregivers and patients. They must also be prepared to be reactive as these needs change or new behaviors emerge – both globally and in specific therapy regions.

Businesses looking to implement an adaptive approach should focus on three key ingredients:

1. Keep your finger on the pulse

Stay in tune with your patients and their behaviors, needs and journeys, as well as the market and health ecosystem through a real-time approach to insight and feedback capture. Combine this with foundational patient personas and maps that can be continuously updated and refined. 

Establish clear and measurable KPIs to monitor adoption, engagement, adherence and experience. Those looking to deliver the most value should also monitor the market and patient sentiment in communities proactively. It’s equally important to go beyond the pharma/patient bubble. Track usage and collect feedback from patients plus other stakeholders to improve need coverage.

2. Use flexible partners, tools and technology

Use a flexible set of tools and partners as the foundation of your PSP to allow easy integration with third-party systems and feature customization. This will also provide the foundations for building a modular infrastructure and localized adaptations for different geographies and treatments.

It’s also worth reviewing subscription and licensing models to avoid getting locked into costly application or tech commitments when your program needs to expand or operate on a lower budget when exclusivity ends.

3. Adopt an agile approach

Adopt an agile approach to every aspect of creating and maintaining your PSP, from the initial creation through ongoing content creation, predictive modelling and feature additions all the way to rolling out your program in additional countries or replicating it for other treatments.

A woman supporting an elderly patient.

Moving to an adaptive PSP

Pharmaceutical companies transitioning from static support programs will inevitably face their own nuances. While a switch is unlikely to deliver results overnight, businesses looking to re-evaluate their existing functions should analyze their processes based on the following:

Understand your patients and their journeys today

It’s imperative to understand how HCPs and patients think about you now. Who they were pre-therapy is not who they are now. Deeply audit the experience you are delivering to measure whether it’s meeting new expectations and serving all potential needs.

Evaluate your PSP for its adaptability and evolve

Audit your existing program to see if it enables you to react and adapt to your changing patients and business needs. Identify some quick wins, such as patient listening, new content, new engagement channels like apps or new features, and work to implement them quickly.

Develop a new PSP that’s adaptable from the get-go

If you are about to build a program or expand to another territory, map out a plan for a more adaptive PSP that you can build and roll out safely in the knowledge that it can adapt to the needs of your patients and business over time.

Final thoughts

The journey towards adaptive patient support is fraught with challenges, yet it offers immense potential for improving outcomes and enhancing patient experiences. By embracing flexibility, innovation and patient-centricity, pharmaceutical firms can chart a course towards a future where personalized care is not just an aspiration, but a reality for all.

With over 15 years of experience in designing, developing and delivering Connected Care ecosystems, Harte Hanks can offer bespoke programs that address patient and HCP needs at every stage in the treatment journey. From starter kit distribution and onboarding to personalized SMS reminders and regional content, we design with you to implement and deliver disease management tools that help you adapt to the immediate needs of your patients, prescribers and business.

Contact us today.

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