Patients Want Support Programs—But They Don’t Know They Already Exist

Pharmaceutical companies invest billions of dollars each year into supporting and empowering patients who are taking their drugs. Many brands offer suites of resources and services, which can include everything from nurse hotlines to reimbursement specialists to instructional injection videos.

All of these resources are meant to help improve patients’ experience on therapy. But if drugmakers really want to improve the patient experience, they first have to make sure patients know about these support programs.

Right now, that’s not the case, as new Phreesia survey data show. Just 3% of nearly 5,000 patients, surveyed this February and March as they were checking in for doctors’ appointments, said they were using patient support programs (PSPs)—and only 8% said they had ever used a PSP in their lifetime.

And it’s not because they’re not interested. Sixty-three percent of respondents said support programs would be at least a little bit helpful for them, with 14% saying they’d find PSPs very or extremely helpful. But 59% said they had little to no knowledge of the programs. It’s hard to use a program you’ve never heard of.

Getting a new prescription can feel overwhelming—especially when it’s coupled with a new diagnosis.

And pharma companies clearly know that’s the case; it’s the reason they’ve created doctor discussion guides, curated lists of support groups, and brought on insurance specialists to work with patients directly.

But if these are some of the primary tools drugmakers are using to help better the patient experience, then more needs to be done to get them into the hands of patients. And with trust in the industry already eroding after hitting a recent high during the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time for companies to show patients they have their backs.

Increasing Awareness of PSPs

So where to begin? The point of care is a natural place to start. Patients can only process so much information during an appointment, so it’s up to marketers to make sure they leave the office with the information they need to tap into support services from home.

The internet is another good option. Just 10% of patients familiar with PSPs said they had learned about the programs online, but 44% said they’d like to learn about them on the web. Pharmacies, too, present an avenue for getting the word out; only 14% of patients said they’d learned about PSPs from pharmacists, though 32% said they wanted to.

If companies can drum up PSP awareness, they’ll be setting themselves up for a win-win: a chance to capitalize on the more than $5.7 billion the industry pours into support programs yearly, and, more importantly, an opportunity to demonstrate they care—not only about patients’ medical well-being, but about their emotional and financial well-being, too.

  • David Linetsky

    David Linetsky is Senior Vice President of Life Sciences at Phreesia, a leading point-of-care company that empowers life sciences brands to connect meaningfully with clinically relevant patients and deliver targeted health content in a one-to-one setting. David is also a member of the board of the Point of Care Communication Council (PoC3), the point-of-care industry’s trade association.

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