By: David Hilman, Chief Operating Officer

When was the last time your patient support program perfectly aligned with the patient journey, solving all the critical gaps in positioning your brand for success?  Time and time again, the same solutions are implemented for products with very different commercial dynamics, leading to patient support programs that fail to achieve their desired objectives.  In most cases, it appears the provider simply cannot execute the program effectively, when in fact, they had no chance of performing well because the solution was not the right fit for the product.  Achieving success with the right patient services program begins with a thoughtful design and a customized solution.

Our 3D Approach

Discover, develop and deploy; this is a very methodical approach for any solution design, yet it is rarely followed in the creation of patient support programs.  This three-part process, or 3-D, is imperative to launch a suite of services that is right for your product and your patients.  Moreover, your service provider should bring perspectives and agility to ensure the design incorporates a broad framework of experiences and ideas while not being limited by operational restrictions.  After confirming your partner is positioned to meet these key elements, the three-step process can proceed in a collaborative fashion.


In the Discover phase, your provider should activate a comprehensive assessment of your product’s targeted patient population, key stakeholders, competing products, marketing programs (including field-based teams – sales, medical liaisons, etc.) and trade strategy to begin to formulate a landscape view of how your patients will move through therapy and what support and barriers they will encounter along the journey.  Having a thorough understanding of these key attributes will enable your provider to identify which specific services are required.  Importantly, your provider should also have a complete understanding of your short-term and long-range goals for your product; the awareness of these objectives is not only critical in the design of your initial solution, but it also helps your provider anticipate design enhancements and evolve your program over time. For example, if your product will face increased competition from new product introductions, or if your product is expected to have its label expanded within the next 18 months, your provider should develop an agile enough program to adapt to these changes.  Once your provider has completed its 360-degree assessment of your product, it should have the necessary insights to collaborate with you in developing your customized program.


In the Develop phase, your service provider should rapidly shift gears to become much more of a strategic advisor for you and your entire commercial team.  It is critical during this phase, that your provider leverage its deep insights and experience to outline and propose a tailored solution that aligns with your product goals.  In general, your services will fall into two core categories; patient engagement and patient retention.  While these are two broad categories, together they improve the patient’s experience on therapy and your services should thus support one of these two objectives.  Some services your provider may include that specifically relate to patient engagement include:

  • Access services – Reimbursement hub services, patient web tools, FAQ support and awareness center and a healthcare practitioner program
  • Patient support – Clinical education, care coordination and caregiver tools
  • Pharmacy services – Rapid start programs, trial offer services and new start patient kits

Additionally, your program will include a variety of patient retention programs that instill ongoing support while on therapy; these services could include:

  • Patient support – Clinical interventions, nurse educator services and field-based administration training
  • Pharmacy services – Dose modification programs, bridge programs and other interim care support

The best programs are those that include services that are uniquely tailored to your product; this is an indication that you have an operationally proficient provider to execute an optimized program design.   Having identified the services, your provider should be able to recommend a cohesive solution.  The recommended solution should naturally fit within the framework of your broader commercial strategy and structure.  There is nothing more frustrating than investing in a program that is not well adopted because it lacks key stakeholder connectivity.


Having progressed through the Discover and Develop phases, your program will have begun to take shape.  To launch successfully, it must complete a final important step, deployment.  In the Deploy phase, your provider not only identifies how your services will be delivered (technology requirements and tools, team structure and qualifications, etc.), but also an appropriate time for the services to deploy.  In other words, this phase includes the preparation work that will be required to solidify your program.  Your provider should follow a very detailed plan that identifies project owners and all required activities up to and beyond program launch. While this is very much a collaborative process, your provider should take the lead on driving these activities to alleviate much of the burden for you and the rest of the commercial team.  As the launch of your program approaches, your provider should be exceptionally proactive, providing status reports and updates on a real-time basis to ensure you have full visibility into the progression of the program.

Following the launch of your patient support program, your provider should continuously repeat the 3-D process as your program matures to ensure your program is converting insights into refinements for your patient support program.  Only through this 3-D approach can you truly differentiate your brand through a patient support program that aligns with the patient journey.