Friday, May 13, 2022

Opportunities to Improve Critical Medication Access in Oncology

Today’s guest post comes from Shawn Seamans, Chief Commercial Officer at CoverMyMeds.

Shawn discusses the unique challenges cancer patients face in accessing, affording, and adhering to treatment. He explains how patient-centric technology, combined with access to caring experts, can alleviate these challenges.

Read more about access, affordability, and adherence opportunities for oncology patients in the CoverMyMeds 2022 Medication Access Report: Oncology Edition.

Read on for Shawn’s insights.

Opportunities to Improve Critical Medication Access in Oncology
By Shawn Seamans, Chief Commercial Officer, CoverMyMeds

With an accelerated growth trajectory in cancer medication research, development and approval, many patients who previously had few options will have a path forward to a healthier life. While this progress is exciting, much work remains to make sure people living with cancer experience fewer challenges accessing their medications.

We detail the distinct medication-related challenges for those living with cancer in the new CoverMyMeds Medication Access Report: Oncology Edition. This report addresses medication access, affordability and adherence opportunities for technology. With automated and improved processes for all healthcare stakeholders, focus can stay on the patient rather than the process.


Cancer care is unique, not only in therapeutic approach, but also to the individual patient. It truly takes a village: from the oncologist to patient navigators, infusion nurses and, perhaps most importantly, at-home caregivers.

It’s the impact of the latter that struck me when reading Todd’s story in the report. Todd was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2017 and, while he’s successfully managed the disease in the last few years, he shares the cognitive load of care with his wife, Diane. Together, the pair also provide guidance and support, including accessing necessary medications, for newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients.

In sharing his story, Todd emphasized the importance of improving speed to therapy, especially for those living with cancer.

“Patients need early access,” he said. “You’ve got to have access to (medications) to be around for the innovation that will ultimately be coming for a cure.”

Curbing medication delays is critical, as 49% of people with cancer said they’ve experienced a delay in receiving their medication.(CoverMyMeds Oncology Patient Survey, 2022) Reasons for delays included insurance processes, drug shortages, affordability and transportation limitations.

People living with cancer are often managing five or more medications. Along with their care partners and teams, patients need transparency and expedited processes as a relief from the additional stress of hunting down information.


Access and affordability discrepancies often start at the point of prescribing. In a recent survey, only 49% of providers said they had the necessary benefits information to start patients on specialty therapies. (CoverMyMeds Provider Survey, 2021) Without this information, providers are unable to hold productive shared decision-making conversations with patients about their potential out-of-pocket costs and when they can start their treatments. At times, the burden falls on patients and caregivers to track down cost and coverage information.

As Todd’s care partner, Diane said she’s experienced providers not ordering necessary treatments because they assumed insurance wouldn’t cover the cost.

“I'd rather you make the decision based on what you need to do for the best medical care for me or my family,” she said.

According to our report, many patients agree with Diane. When asked to rank factors about a medication to treat cancer, patients most frequently selected treatment effectiveness and provider’s preferred medication as most important, above out-of-pocket cost and insurance coverage.(CoverMyMeds Oncology Patient Survey, 2022)

Workflow-integrated technology can allow care teams to share information and decisions with patients throughout the access journey. Within a single platform, they can electronically initiate benefit checks, expedite the prior authorization process and enroll patients in hub programs. The bigger win? These solutions have been shown to help patients access medications eight days sooner, on average. (CoverMyMeds data on file. Full AMP product portfolio analyzed from April 2019-Nov. 2021)

Of course, we know patient challenges don’t end once they’ve accessed their medications.


The list of things that can keep patients living with cancer from taking medications as prescribed is long. It can include, but isn’t limited to, complicated, multiple-medication regimens, side effects and keeping up with medical appointments. People living with cancer need a wide safety net of support that can not only help solve adherence challenges but also prevent them in the long run.

End-to-end medication support should help connect patients to experts and real people who can best help address their challenges on a case-by-case basis. These clinical experts are the true changemakers who can address patients’ individual needs while technology serves in a support role. This can look like connecting patients to charitable organizations, finding biopharma discount programs or evaluating a patient’s medications for drug-drug interactions. Care team members, such as specialty pharmacists, can play crucial roles when it comes to patient adherence. Todd touted his specialty pharmacist who helped him navigate and review his multiple myeloma medications against a new migraine medication prescribed by a provider.

“The pile of pills I take every day is so amazing,” Todd said. “All patients need to be aware of not only what each pill does, but what they do when they're used together.”

Patient-centric technology solutions and services can help reduce friction for oncology care teams and patients. Most importantly, they help elevate the value of human connections.

Read more about access, affordability and adherence opportunities in the oncology space in the CoverMyMeds 2022 Medication Access Report: Oncology Edition.

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