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The Secret Ingredient to a Successful Patient Support Program

By Mike Knapp 11.25.20
Reading time: 5 minutes

As the complexities of pharma medications and access to them grows, it’s more important than ever to improve capabilities for adherence and compliance as you build a complete patient experience — all delivered through a scalable, integrated, and centralized patient support program, or PSP.

First and foremost, a patient support program is designed to make sure the patient gets their medicine as quickly and cheaply as possible and that they know how to take it the right way. In addition, patient support programs can achieve several different goals, from helping patients navigate their insurance to ensuring adherence to their medication regimen. But when we talk about scaling programs up, we often lose the sense of empathy and honesty — the support part of the patient support program. 

With the right technology, you don’t have to choose between a supportive, empathetic customer experience and the organization and scale for your business. 

How to scale your patient support program with empathy

Scaling your patient support program starts with patients. You may have new, favorable formulary status, or completed new research or data that causes more doctors to prescribe your medications. While this piece is important, it’s more up to your marketing or sales team.

The second piece is around the technology you use to handle that growth. Using spreadsheets or a homegrown system may work with 1000 or 2000 patients, but what about 25,000? 

To truly scale up your patient support program with empathy, you need to invest in technology that can handle your current (and future!) growth. Here’s what Salesforce can do for your business:

Ensure smooth and reliable access to medication

A truly effective program ensures connectivity to internal and external stakeholders like manufacturing, fulfillment, payers, providers, and specialty pharmacies. This will ensure there are no interruptions to the patient experience. That means arming physicians with the right information about your products so they can prep the patient and get them started with your patient support program in the first place, walking them through next steps.

Take prior authorizations, for example. They’re a pain in the neck for everyone. Take those as an opportunity to have a positive patient touchpoint (and get patients access to your medication more quickly.) Automate the process through Salesforce, so if a doctor prescribes a certain medication, they can fill out a form so you can handle the benefits information and authorization.

The best programs coordinate around shipping vendors, specialty pharmacy integration, notification approach, patient data, and insurance coverage to efficiently and affordably deliver treatment patients need.

That means things like benefits investigations, coordinating care with insurance companies to come up with a price, shipping that medication to the patient if needed, and providing information about how to administer it. What does that typical journey look like, and how can you ensure every patient has reliable and easy access to your products? That’s the foundation of your support program. With Salesforce, you can see exactly where each account is on their journey, and what needs to happen next. 

Handle consent and compliance regulations

Protecting patient privacy and interacting with patients in their preferred form of communication is non-negotiable. Salesforce can help you navigate the regulatory, legal, and technical requirements to accomplish consent management goals.

That’s because for your patient support program to be successful, you have to get patients to opt-in in the first place. You can’t rely on doctors to get consent for you — they’re busy with other patients. But you can trigger a phone call in the patient journey off of a prescription to gather that consent or channel patients to an online consent form. You can then use Salesforce to track that consent (including whether they’ve designated just phone calls, just emails, or otherwise) and record it for compliance purposes.

Salesforce has the ability to handle the structural elements of a strong patient support program when it comes to other regulatory compliance, too. Not only do you need to perform consent management, you need to be able to accurately record adverse events, like new or unusual side effects, or product complaints. Salesforce gives you the peace of mind to record anything that might happen in a systematic way so you can easily report it to the FDA while maintaining HIPAA-compliance.

Track your program performance

Whether it be hard metrics like speed to fulfillment, adherence rates, reduction in call time, successful prior authorizations, issue resolution; or softer metrics like patient satisfaction — it is important to define the metrics that support your brand value and customer desires.

Salesforce can help you track your program performance and understand where you need to change strategies, double down, or play to different strengths. It’s a matter of making sure you’re measuring things that help you get the answers you need. It can be leading indicators like rate of return on phone calls or time spent with patients, or customer satisfaction metrics like days on therapy, or missed refills. 

But it can also help you answer deeper questions through social listening and other cloud data, whether that’s recording independent market research to understand the full journey of what they’re going through. Take oncology, for example. A big problem is travel. If they have to get an infusion, a lot of pharmaceutical companies partner with Uber or Lyft to get them rides to the hospital, since they can’t drive themselves. 

That’s a great example of how to make the leap from numbers to a level of support that drives value for the customer.

Enable your support specialists

A true patient support program delivers a singular and complete view of patient interactions, preferences, and needs at all times. Improve patient and provider experiences by removing redundancies in information gathering during appointments or conversations.

Your support specialists are the true MVPs of any patient support program. They’re the ones coordinating everything from benefits investigations to answering questions and providing training. With Salesforce, you can give them all the answers they need at their fingertips, allowing them to see a 360-degree snapshot of each patient and turn reactive Q&A to proactive outreach.

Take treatment for metastatic breast cancer for example. This is a battle many of these patients will die from, and it’s a scary time for them and their caregivers. They’re getting screened every two or three months to see whether the cancer has continued to spread, and these screens can be anxiety-producing for patients, especially if they’ve already failed on one or more other treatments. That’s where a specialist can schedule a call and just ask, “How are you doing? We just wanted to wish you well, since you have a scan coming up. We’re here for any questions.”

By approaching touchpoints with empathy, and giving your support staff the information they need, you can provide a little bit of light and comfort. 

Create a cohesive patient journey

Taken together, all of these efforts create a comprehensive patient journey for your support programs that understands the effect of this disease on patients physically, emotionally, and mentally, and how you can help. 

Once you understand the patient journey, you can build out the technology that supports it, whether that’s tailoring your marketing to customer channel preferences or automating the touchpoint process.

Scale your patient support program with Silverline

Whether it’s installing Salesforce Health Cloud — designed specifically for healthcare organizations —to get you started or a more complex initiative with integrations of Marketing Cloud, Community Cloud, Interactive Studio, etc., we’re here to create the best solution for your needs. Our experienced team members come from across the healthcare industry and have a wealth of experience when it comes to standing up best-in-class patient support programs.

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