Expert discusses effective patient assistance programs

Expert discusses effective patient assistance programs

In an interview with Pharmacy hours® at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Midyear Meetings and Exhibition, O’Mally Monahan, MPH, Vice President of Operations at McKesson RxO, discusses patient assistance programs and how they can reduce delays treatment.

Q: What are the elements of an effective patient assistance program?

O’Mally Monahan: So, first of all, thank you for giving me the opportunity to share how McKesson’s Patient Assistance Program can maximize the value of the healthcare system and provide more access and affordability for patients. In my mind, when I think of effective patient assistance, or a PAP program, I think of people, technology, and expertise. So really, you need dedicated resources that know the patient assistance program to make sure you’re able to maximize patient value. When I think of dedicated resources, I think of individuals or a team who only support patient support and are not trained in other areas and removed from patient support work.

When I think of technology, technology is there to help increase efficiency. Technology is there to help make the process more efficient, so you can maximize value. When you think about technology, you really want to have technology that identifies opportunities, helps you stay compliant in the process, and incorporates metrics of value and efficiency to make everything run more smoothly.

Then know-how. patient advocates really need to have a deep understanding of the resources available, they need to be empathetic, nS they need to be able to not take no for an answer Because when patients’ lives are at stake, it’s very important to ensure they have access to these drugs.

Q: How can patients benefit from patient assistance programs?

O’Mally Monahan: Patients can benefit from PAP programs in 3 different ways. I think of it in terms of access, membership and affordability. When a patient is enrolled in a patient assistance program, then they have access to medication. If it’s a patient who has insurance and is underinsured, that makes the drug more affordable. Then, if you get free medication, you also increase compliance, so the patient is more likely to take the medication for the full course of the medication as prescribed.

Q: What is McKesson’s First Dose technology and how can it help streamline patient identification for patient assistance programs?

O’Mally Monahan: McKesson’s first dose technology integrates planning data into the workflow. The way this benefits the patient assistance workflow is that it allows opportunities to be identified prospectively rather than retrospectively. You are able to better understand what patients would qualify for before and not after. First dose technology allows patients to be more aware of existing programs and therefore to move forward with treatment. It also helps with grip.

Q: Why is it important to identify patients who need these programs before treatment?

O’Mally Monahan: Today, approximately 30 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured, and according to a recent American Heart Association study, drug costs and co-payments are directly associated with adherence. Patients who have access to drugs are more likely to continue their treatment. I will say that historically, patient assistance programs looked at opportunity more retrospectively, so after a patient had been treated, they could then be enrolled in a program. Now patients want to know what is available to help them reduce their financial burden. So they are more active in patient assistance programs when you enroll them before treatment.

Q: How can pharmacists approach these conversations with patients, since this may be a sensitive topic for some?

O’Mally Monahan: You are quite right. It’s a sensitive subject, and sometimes it’s the elephant in the room. I truly believe that the healthcare team should be responsible for helping to address this topic and making sure a patient understands the opportunities available to them. I think one of the benefits of the McKesson Pharmacy Recovery solution is having dedicated patients or advocates to help and support and enroll patients in programs because healthcare systems are busy. Clinicians and pharmacists are busy, and if they are able to pass on the opportunity or refer a patient to one of our McKesson, Patient Advocates to help them enroll in a program. We are better equipped and able to help identify opportunities they may be eligible for and help them enroll in the process.

Q: Final thoughts?

O’Mally Monahan: So beyond patient benefits, McKesson is packed with comprehensive recovery services that can strengthen relationships with the healthcare system and drive more value around patient assistance programs for patients. It’s an industry standard that patient assistance programs can help hospitals save between 2% and 3% of their drug spend. For large organizations that can generate millions of dollars of value.

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