Friday, March 20, 2020

Three Things to Look for in a Patient Assistance Program

Today’s guest post comes from Rob Brown, Vice President and General Manager of RxCrossroads by McKesson and Biologics by McKesson.

Rob discusses the importance of access, adherence, and affordability for specialty therapy patients who are uninsured, underinsured, or low-income. He describes three criteria companies should use to evaluate patient assistance program solutions.

Click here to learn more about program pharmacy solutions for biopharma from RxCrossroads by McKesson.

Read on for Rob’s insights.

Three Things to Look for in a Patient Assistance Program
By Rob Brown, Vice President & General Manager, RxCrossroads by McKesson & Biologics by McKesson

The number of uninsured Americans is on the rise for the first time since the Affordable Care Act took effect; 27.5 million people had no health insurance in 2018, up from 25.6 million people the previous year. Even among those with insurance, high-deductible health plans, increasing drug costs and other forces at play have made it hard or impossible for many to afford specialty medications and treatment plans.

In this difficult consumer environment, biopharmaceutical companies’ investment in affordability and free drug programs is more important than ever for patients who are uninsured, underinsured or low-income and need to be able to afford access—and long-term adherence—to specialty therapies.

In a crowded marketplace, there are several identifiers manufacturers should look for when evaluating potential partners to administer their patient assistance program. The ideal patient assistance program addresses access, adherence and affordability needs, allowing companies and their patients to thrive. Companies should look for a fully integrated solution with a partner that provides quality customer experience, proven clinical expertise, and strategic program design scalability.


Patient assistance programs must consider both the customer experience of biopharma companies and their patients, who expect a good experience using that brand.

Manufacturers should seek operational excellence on dispense accuracy, turnaround time and any other quality metrics uniquely important to their therapy. RxCrossroads by McKesson has an operational excellence team that continuously monitors and evaluates processes and programs to ensure clients’ key performance indicators (KPIs) are being met and surpassed. If a gap is found, the team collaborates with the patient assistance program manager on a root-cause analysis to implement an effective corrective strategy.

RxCrossroads has invested in best-in-class automated dispensing technology that reduces error rates, improves efficiencies and ultimately accelerates time to therapy, allowing patients to receive their therapies sooner.

Manufacturers should know they and their patients are in good hands. Preferably, clients will have the opportunity to build a relationship with a dedicated program manager who will oversee the administration of the patient assistance program, serve as a liaison and troubleshoot if any needs arise. At RxCrossroads, program managers also serve as consultants, offering recommendations and advising on ways to fine-tune the patient assistance program to more closely align with the manufacturer’s goals and help them reach more patients.

Customer experience in program management is equally important in account management. Frontline employees must provide a high level of care to patients and responsiveness to physicians. Empathy, attention to detail and outstanding interpersonal skills are essential to administering these programs and putting healthcare professionals and patients at ease.


In order to implement a patient assistance program successfully, administrators must have the clinical experience and knowledge to understand individual therapies, therapeutic areas, and patients.

Since specialty therapy regimens can be so complex and carry the risk of side effects and toxicities, many manufacturers need high-touch patient-support services from a pharmacy team with expertise in their brand’s therapeutic area. This team should be prepared to serve as a point of contact for patients and physicians to help mitigate side effects, address dosing issues, prevent adverse events and support adherence.

RxCrossroads’ program pharmacy solutions leverage the company’s experience as a leader in oncology services to build expertise in many other therapeutic areas by adapting quality and safety protocols to other chronic and complex diseases. This ability to customize by therapeutic area extends to full customizability and scalability for each client.


Biopharma companies need strategic patient assistance programs with processes, systems, support and logistics to meet their unique needs and those of the patients on their therapy.

Even with the best market forecasting, it’s difficult to predict a product’s performance in the market before launch. The ability to start small and scale up — through technology, automation, customization and flexibility of program design — allows brands to meet post-market demands such as secondary indications and other developments. Therefore, a scalable model, as well as an excellent recruitment and training team, is crucial to support brands as they expand.

One technique RxCrossroads uses to build outstanding support and administrative teams as programs expand is to place experienced associates alongside talented new recruits. The result is a team that can grow with the program and easily train and transfer knowledge.

Ultimately, every patient assistant program should be unique, just as every brand and every therapy and every patient is unique. The right partner will provide a strategic and individualized program to support biopharma companies and ensure the best patient outcomes. Supporting patients through their journey is a challenging, multifactorial process. Finding the right patient assistance program shouldn’t be.

Click here to learn more about program pharmacy solutions for biopharma from RxCrossroads by McKesson.

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