By Ryan Rushing, Senior Director of 340B Programs, BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy
Patient assistance programs may be a dime a dozen, but what do you need to know to make yours really stand out from the crowd? The most important step in designing a highly effective patient assistance program is one, often overlooked, tool. This tool? Data analytics. Or, more specifically, I mean relying on data analytics to accomplish three key things:
- Maximize the use of 340B savings
- Drive optimal health outcomes
- Heal the patient’s wallet
Roadblocks to Success
When implementing a specialty 340B program it can be daunting to build out a patient assistance program. Over the years, the main stumbling blocks I’ve noticed that create headaches for programs are these:
- The high (and continuing to rise) cost of specialty medications
- The unpredictability of managed care benefits
- Not fully understanding the different routes to take during benefit design
Each of these stumbling blocks are solvable, once you have identified them and make a plan to address each one. Overall, though, the most important step you can take is to identify the best specialty pharmacy to partner with for you. You’ll want to select one that has a strong record of supporting patients.
Partnering with a Specialty Pharmacy
How can you tell that your potential specialty pharmacy partner is up to this important task of supporting patients? A good indicator is whether they have a robust patient assistance program. Also, ensure that the specialty pharmacy utilizes all patient support options available in the marketplace. It is important that the pharmacy be very active in this way to ensure that the entity’s 340B patient support dollars can be stretched as far as they can go.
But now let’s get back to why data analytics are such a key to success. The use of data analytics allows you to have a clear view of historical prescription data. This paints a clear picture of your patient population payer mix, which is very important for program structure. Furthermore, this gives you insight into the financial reality of the multiple options and levels of support you can choose from in a plan design. And don’t underestimate one more value of data analytics: understanding how managed care benefit design impacts patient out of pocket costs.
Taking the Partnership Further
Working together with your specialty pharmacy partner, it’s smart to decide on goals for your patient assistance program. Along with this, you should also clarify which data points will be used to measure program success going forward. It’s about making informed program decisions at the beginning and then having the follow through to see if the program is, in fact, working for you and the patients it serves.
The goal, naturally, should be to increase access to specialty medications for your patients. A specialty pharmacy with a history of patient assistance excellence and one who is able to provide data analytics will be able to support you through this entire process.
To sum up: you can drive optimal patient health outcomes while healing patient’s wallets. As long as you take the time and forethought to utilize a well-designed patient assistance program. It all comes down to partnership, communication, and data.