By Catherine Wood Hill, Vice President of Marketing at Phil, Inc.
Biopharma hubs should strive to ensure patients get access to the medications they need quickly and affordably, while easing the manual effort required by prescribers. A positive hub experience builds trust, promotes brand loyalty, and supports ongoing therapy adherence. At the same time, the hub should maximize insurance coverage, which helps manufacturers improve brand economics. In this ideal state, the hub is a strategic partner that drives access, gross-to-net, and outcomes.
The reality is that most hubs do an excellent job in one area, such as making sure patients have access to affordability programs, but fall short in another area, such as failing to offer a solution to ensure high coverage rates. The result is dissatisfied patients, disenfranchised HCPs, and missed brand outcomes and goals – a likely contributing factor to why over 6 out of 10 brands launched between 2019 and 2021 underperformed expectations. Since manufacturers collectively poured $19 Billion into helping patients afford their brands in 2022 alone, optimizing hub performance should be be a top priority to ensure ROI and brand success.
Issues on several fronts can impede hub adoption. The first is that historically, hub programs have involved manual enrollment processes. As a result, many HCPs are understandably hesitant to use a manufacturer's hub because they have had poor experiences dealing with lengthy enrollment forms that must be filled out by hand and faxed back.
The second challenge comes from relying on outbound phone calls from a call center to engage patients – and upwards of 89% of life science company hubs use a call center. Most people today screen their calls and rarely pick up if they don't recognize the phone number. They want to avoid the interruption and risk of spending time on a phone conversation they haven’t planned.
Lastly, incentive misalignment can keep sales representatives from driving prescription volume through the hub. Many pharmaceutical compensation plans pay reps the same for a covered script as an uncovered script, which disincentivizes promoting the hub. Getting an uncovered script is a lot less work: the rep has the HCP send the prescription to the local specialty pharmacy or retail, which is more likely to utilize the uncovered coupon or substitute the product, avoiding the prior authorization (PA) processes for the patient.
Core teams commonly work in silos, pursuing goals that are not necessarily aligned with the brand’s overall objectives and can cause a breakdown from a hub optimization perspective. Hub success starts with high-level leadership and cross-functional unity on the “why” of their patient services program, the overarching goals, and everyone’s responsibility in the implementation process.
For example, let’s assume the program sponsor is patient services, and that team’s leadership has excellent strategic relationships with the market access, brand, and sales leadership teams. This tight-knit collaboration translates to buy-in for driving coverage via the hub and accountability for the rollout across all teams… this is where hub success begins.
At Phil, we have worked with life sciences companies that have seen a 30% increase in volume within two months after all the internal stakeholders started marching in the same direction.
The optimization stage can begin once everyone is on the same page, and the field teams are trained to promote the hub. It’s important to differentiate maximizing adoption from optimizing the hub. Driving 100% of scripts through the hub is maximizing HCP adoption. However, if HCPs are not submitting the necessary PAs or patients are not enrolling, the hub is not optimized. In this case, patients and HCPs will have poor experiences with minimal treatment access, and the manufacturer will not see the brand outcomes they expect.
The best approach to hub optimization is to analyze granular data to understand what is happening territory by territory in terms of new script volume, patient enrollment, prescriber engagement, and payer response. Then, field team management can identify opportunities to get more patients started on the branded therapy quickly and affordably.
After identifying key opportunities, stakeholder teams can take several steps to improve hub enrollment and engagement:
Field team education based on specific identified territory opportunities
Peer-to-peer coaching, where high-performing reps partner with low-performing reps
Creation of targeted marketing collateral to drive desired behaviors and outcomes
Strong alliance with a hub partner that has experience across a host of clients
Life sciences companies working with Phil get a strategic partnership that focuses on optimizing patient access across the hub program to drive the company’s brand goals. Our consultative approach provides individualized recommendations and interventions based on real-time, granular data captured across the prescription journey, paired with our extensive experience helping specialty-lite brands achieve their access and bottom-line goals.
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