Friday, March 03, 2023

What a Technology-First Approach Really Means for Your Patient Support Program

Today’s guest post comes from Jan Nielsen, Patient Solutions Division President at AssistRx.

Jan discusses digital hubs and the benefits they offer both patients on specialty therapies and their health care providers. To learn more, download AssistRx's free 61-page eBook: Specialty Drug Patient Support Programs: 2022 Progress Report.

Read on for Jan’s insights.

What a Technology-First Approach Really Means for Your Patient Support Program
By Jan Nielsen, President, Patient Solutions Division, AssistRx

One in five patients reports doing their taxes is less painful than managing their healthcare. The healthcare space—specifically, the specialty space—is rife with manual processes, siloed systems, and other challenges that prevent timely patient access to care. Fortunately, there have been significant advancements in healthcare technology that accelerate access and improve treatment outcomes. The right partner can help life sciences organizations deliver a technology-first approach to drive differentiated experiences for your patients and healthcare providers (HCPs).

What is a technology-first patient support program? It depends on who you ask. To understand what a technology-first approach is and what it means for your patient support program, we must first understand the difference between “technology-first” and “technology-enabled.”


Many patient support programs deploy technology-enabled solutions in some capacity, like electronic benefit verification (e-BV) or digitized enrollment. However, leveraging technology-enabled solutions does not mean the program is a technology-first program. So, what’s the difference?

The real differentiator lies in the ability to automate the process with technology, versus relying on human intervention to prop up technology.

For example, some patient support providers generate electronic benefit coverage via test claims, whereas AssistRx uses Advanced Benefit Verification (ABV), a technology-first approach that leverages direct connectivity with payers to provide immediate and comprehensive patient coverage results.

Some solutions utilize digital forms for prior authorization (PA) completion. AssistRx utilizes Advanced Prior Authorization (APA), which returns the appropriate patient plan- and product-specific PA question set and enables real-time PA submission with payer/PBM decisions returned in minutes.

Finally, true technology-first clinical support encompasses not only virtual visits, but also automated appointment scheduling and reporting. Often, scheduling and tracking is manually managed by agents, resulting in inconsistent, incomplete and non-standardizable data. A true technology-first option like AssistRx’s Advanced Clinical Education (ACE) solution integrates with the CRM to facilitate a full view of the patient case.

A technology-first program is commonly referred to as a digital hub. A true digital hub can integrate technology into all patient support services, leaving only the most complicated or high-touch cases to be supplemented with talent. This requires the digital hub provider to not only have interoperable technology, but also to ingest, analyze, action and share data with all parties necessary to facilitate technology-first support.


Digital hubs support HCPs by solving for portal fatigue and automating traditionally burdensome manual processes. By digitally intaking the prescription from the EHR, triggering solutions like ABV, APA and other eServices, and triaging a full enrollment package to the pharmacy—all in one place, digital hubs speed access and streamline workflows. For the HCP, this means nearly all their therapy initiation tasks are completed electronically in the background. They only need to intervene to prescribe, initiate the PA, support an especially complex case or if they prefer manual methods.


Digital hubs first support patients by improving speed to therapy. What typically takes weeks can be completed in days. For example, AssistRx’s technology-first therapy initiation solutions accelerated speed to therapy by 45%.

Using a technology-first approach also enables patients to take ownership of their health. An example of this approach is the AssistRx “text to enroll” campaign. AssistRx launched electronic enrollment for one client and leveraged a texting campaign for patients to “text to enroll”. Within 30 days, 50% of enrollments started technology first, and the missing information rate for enrollments dropped by 61%.


All program types can benefit from a technology-first approach. However, in today’s complex healthcare environment, a life sciences organization’s digital hub program cannot, and should not, be 100% digital. There are HCPs and patients who require or prefer manual interventions at some point in their journey. Thus, life sciences organizations need a partner that understands how to strike the right balance of technology and talent based on the nuances of the product.

The optimal partner will also have experience stratifying patient/HCP populations to deliver the right technology, at the right time, through the right delivery method.

To create differentiated patient and HCP experiences, today’s life sciences organizations need to go beyond technology-enabled and embrace technology-first approaches. A true digital hub should streamline the process for your HCPs, speed access to therapy for your patients, and drive efficiencies within your program.

Learn more about AssistRx solutions in our eBook: Specialty Drug Patient Support Programs: 2022 Progress Report.

Sponsored guest posts are bylined articles that are screened by Drug Channels to ensure a topical relevance to our exclusive audience. These posts do not necessarily reflect our opinions and should not be considered endorsements. To find out how you can publish a guest post on Drug Channels, please contact Paula Fein (

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