A global biotech company faced what under normal circumstances would be a typical challenge. Their patient support programs existed under four different silos, inhibiting their effectiveness. The previous provider had a number of operational challenges in administering the program services, resulting in a largely ineffective patient experience, unreliable data and limited program insights.
With the move to PharmaCord, the goal was to combine the various silos under a single umbrella and launch a new, streamlined program within 90 days. In the midst of the launch efforts, PharmaCord was also faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, which complicated those plans.
Despite the unusual headwinds, PharmaCord remained committed to its goal of launching the enhanced program without any delays.
The implementation plan started with PharmaCord identifying a dedicated cross-functional team to lead all implementation efforts. PharmaCord also placed the program leadership several months in advance to begin operational support to the plan of action. Within a few weeks of embarking on the implementation it became clear that the growing pandemic would require major changes in the hiring and training process.
One of the critical challenges PharmaCord faced was the hiring of nearly 70 colleagues during a time in which it was not feasible to meet in large groups for job fairs and/or other hiring events. To overcome this barrier, PharmaCord pursued a multi-pronged strategy consisting of a combination of internal talent redeployment and advanced digital recruiting strategies.
PharmaCord identified high performers from existing programs within the company where the candidates had exceeded expectations in their role for an extended period. This allowed the team to leverage institutional knowledge about PharmaCord and its proprietary case management platform, CORscend™, while also providing support in peer-to-peer training.
For candidates external to PharmaCord, it utilized innovative video technology to interview prescreened applicants. The digital platform allowed the human resources team to record questions regarding the candidates’ backgrounds, interests and behavioral traits, while program leadership reviewed the candidates’ video responses at their convenience.
This further streamlined the process by identifying areas that required additional probing during the live interviews, which were also conducted through a video-conferencing solution. Unlike the program team interviews, program leadership interviews were conducted in person, but the limited number of in-person interviews drastically reduced the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
The adjustments made to the staffing approach paid substantial dividends, as the team was comprised of a mix of experienced, high-performing case managers, including multiple internal promotions, and recent college graduates from nearby Bellarmine University and those obtained through PharmaCord’s partnership with the University of Louisville. The streamlined approach significantly shortened the average turnaround time from application-to-hire, resulting in less than two weeks for non-leadership positions within the program.
Another challenge the team faced was training. For its patient support programs, PharmaCord typically conducts comprehensive in-person training for the entire team. However, the risk of COVID-19 exposure prompted the company to reassess its approach, requiring a hybrid in-person/virtual training program. During the first two weeks of training, PharmaCord utilized multiple digital interactive technical platforms to host curriculum consisting of client-led product and disease-state training as well as an introduction to PharmaCord and the company’s compliance and regulatory policies. As part of the virtual training sessions, the team members were paired into small groups with their direct supervisors to facilitate greater engagement and to help better gauge the team’s understanding of the training content. With this smaller group setting, the team was able to tackle problem areas before moving into the more technical aspect of training.
The final two weeks of training were conducted on site at PharmaCord’s operations center located in Jeffersonville, Ind. The company implemented safety protocols for managing COVID-19 concerns including mandatory face masks, appropriate social distancing, daily temperature scans and health status reporting, in addition to providing ample supply of gloves and disinfectant for all onsite staff. PharmaCord also implemented a mobile app to track all health status updates to enable precise tracking of responses and location of personnel if future tracing was deemed necessary. The team felt safe and protected throughout the onsite sessions, enabling them to focus on the training itself to prepare themselves for the program launch.
In both the remote and onsite sessions, the leadership team dedicated a portion of each day for team-building initiatives such as ice-breakers, meet-and-greets and peer-to-peer presentations. This allowed the team members to establish a rapport and build trust in one another, which was a key element behind the great team culture in place today.
One of PharmaCord’s indicators of a successful training program is proven demonstration of all program services and system operations. To ensure the team accomplished this on schedule, the program leadership spent two out of four weekends of the training period working with a dedicated technology resource who completed advanced system training and developed mock scenarios, which required 100% completion prior to being certified as “go-live ready.” Leadership set the same high standards for the program team members, all of whom achieved certification in the established timeframe.
In parallel to its staffing and training activities, PharmaCord held weekly strategy meetings to align on goals and objectives and incorporate any program changes throughout the implementation planning phase. Additionally, PharmaCord hosted daily operational meetings with the client to discuss open items and to identify any risks to the program. The Program Managers met with their counterparts at the client to solidify business rules and validate all program goals and objectives were documented in an organized fashion. The client engagement was almost entirely virtual, with the only onsite presence occurring at project kickoff prior to the known development and risk of COVID-19.
The PharmaCord team hit the ground running as the new patient support program launched on schedule, transitioning with no issues or complaints.
The team seamlessly transitioned nearly 23,000 patient and physician records, and the client has reported a substantial improvement in data integrity. That integrity is validated on a real-time basis through PharmaCord’s CORsights™ reporting platform, which is consistently utilized by a number of the client’s various commercial stakeholders, including the entire sales team.
Within 60 days of program operations, the team met all 42 key performance indicators, which was 30 days earlier than the client had expected. PharmaCord also incorporated a number of enhancements into the program, including the following:
- Completion of Benefit Investigation within four hours of the receipt of the request.
- Utilization of CORscendVue, which provides the client’s external field-based nursing team with immediate visibility into hub-serviced patient case information and continuous connectivity to PharmaCord.
- Implementation of systematic alerts to notify Case Managers of patients at-risk of non-adherence; previous provider did not provide any additional patient follow up and support following triage to the Specialty Pharmacy.
- Near real-time access to approved patient information to improve facilitation of complex reimbursement barriers for Field Reimbursement Managers.
Reflecting the strength of the program leadership team, the team members completed a blind survey with exceptional marks relating to the program team’s leadership as well as their respective happiness and fulfillment in their roles. The team’s engagement and role satisfaction speak volumes about the methodical approach toward identifying, staffing and training the right talent for the team. Additionally, out of the abundance of precautions and security measures throughout the planning, training and implementation phases, the team was able to largely mitigate the risk of COVID-19, with only one team member (of nearly 70) testing positive for the virus during the entire five-month period.
All in all, the launch of the new program was deemed an astounding success by the client. The following statistics exemplify that even in challenging times, PharmaCord has established a foundation for the successful implementation of high-quality patient support programs.
Thanks to PharmaCord’s implementation of the revamped program, the client now benefits from greater program insights, new field nursing and field reimbursement tools as well as an overall enhanced patient and prescriber experience.
PharmaCord is the connector between manufacturers, patients, physicians, and payors. The company provides customized patient solutions which span four core service categories; access services, patient support, pharmacy services and manufacturer services. These integrated services are designed to increase accessibility, clinical oversight and market acceptance of prescription therapy. Independently owned and organically built, PharmaCord is free from any competing priorities, enabling it to design and implement patient access and support programs that align with the objectives of its biopharmaceutical clients. PharmaCord’s experienced team coupled with its proprietary CORscend™ technology platform optimizes workflow to deliver improved program execution, more rapid therapy initiation and increased patient engagement. To learn more about how PharmaCord improves commercial outcomes for manufacturers by providing the right connections, visit pharmacord.com.