The Critical 5 Patient Needs when Onboarding to a New Medication

Patient Experience | Pharma | PeopleMetrics LIVE

Reading time: 44 minutes

Trusted Experience Management Partners

More patients than ever are using support programs from Pharmaceutical companies, and while each program is unique, there are 5 critical patient needs that every support program must meet. Unfortunately, most support programs fail to meet all 5 needs, resulting in fewer patients onboarding and adhering over time.

In this session, we review those 5 patient needs that you are required to fulfill (with a free downloadable PDF!). We have identified these patient needs over years of collecting patient feedback about their experiences with patient support services, and look forward to sharing our learning with you!

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Kirk Lohbauer: Hi everyone, Welcome to PeopleMetrics LIVE! Today we'll be reviewing the critical five patient needs when onboarding to new medications and before we dive in let's go ahead and do some quick introductions. My name is Kirk Lobauer. I’ve been an account manager here at PeopleMetrics, running a number of our patient experience feedback programs and I’m here to share my expertise and I’m joined by our CEO Sean Mcdade, and Sean I’ll turn it over to you if you want to do a quick intro.

Sean Mcdade: Hi Everybody, Sean Mcdade founder and CEO of PeopleMetrics, excited to be here today.

Kirk: All right, Well, Thank you for spending some time with us today. So Sean, when I think of this space, a lot of companies talk about patient centricity and they talk about meeting their patient needs and they do a lot of things they have apps, portals, and support teams, and just from your perspective, How well do you think these Pharma companies are doing that at meeting those patient needs?

Sean: Well, I think the good news is there's a lot of effort towards doing so. Right, So there's a lot of engagement around especially new patients onboarding onto medications right, So patient support services, there's huge investments in it, it's continued to grow each year. Lots like you said, lots of digital investment and lots of investments in hubs, and call centers and other ways to engage patients. So, I think the good news is you're seeing you know great momentum towards you know supporting the patient in their journey and supporting the hcp partner in that journey as well with their patient. You know, from the data that we've seen and we've been doing this a while like we've been working with pharmaceutical companies right for the last six or seven years in just patient support services for many other years in other areas. And you know the data we're seeing is you know there are certain core needs that Pharma is doing a good job meeting and others maybe not. So, the good news is we've identified what we think is you know the five core patient needs when adopting a new medication, onboarding them to a new medication so it's controllable but I’d say that, you know Pharma is just in the beginning of their journey in really creating great experiences for their customers, and I think this is a great you know area to focus on because first of all, it's such high leverage right we know when patients on board you know they're obviously you can't adhere unless you're on board, to begin with and then your medical outcomes are much better, you know the sooner you onboard and you know the more that you're able to adhere to the treatment regimen. So, this is a great way to create a great customer experience and in my new book “Pharma Customer Experience”, Kirk, coming out of November, which is exciting, there are many chapters on how you know important patient support services is and how you know these needs are the core of what patient support services need to fulfill in order for a patient to be ready to onboard onto a new medication.

Kirk: Yeah, and I think just to piggyback on that, it really is the sense that I think we've gotten in the past six-seven years is that it is in its infancy because from the Pharma companies, you know historic perspective meeting patient needs has just been I’ve created this therapy and that the patient need being met, and then it's on everyone else, it's on the hcps it's on the caregivers, it's on at hospitals, it's on everyone else actually make sure that you know the access and you know the therapy is there for you. However kind of as we're approaching this new world of patient support services you do have to evolve in that thinking of meeting your needs isn't just providing the therapy it's making sure you are kind of actually on board and getting access to it.

Sean: without a doubt Kirk, I mean every industry now is moving towards the experiences of their customers. You know the experiences that your customers have dictate the success of the future of your company and you know in the book, I make a point that even in product launches it shouldn't be about the product it should be about the experiences the customers have customers in this case primarily the patient as well as other key stakeholders being hcp's caregivers so we've you know you mentioned. And you know thinking about the patient's journey onboarding onto a new medication with patient support services being a key pillar to that, is you know it's a no-brainer to me and that's why they're that's why there's so much investment in it because there is a return. You know we're seeing more and more up onboarding, you know data from the more patient support services are invested in, which is a great sign. But it needs to be managed like any other customer experience is managed in a bank or in a hotel or at a call center, you have to think of it the same way that your patient has a journey with multiple touchpoints and needs that you have to identify and fulfill and if you don't fulfill them you need to know about their course correct and make it right.

Kirk: Yeah and I think something a very interesting point that of course, we're going to get to in this approach is, you know evolving out of this mindset of I’m just delivering a product means I’m delivering an experience and you know part of that it goes even just beyond customer experience it's almost, it's a human or psychological, you know I need to meet your needs which you know it can tie back in a very base way too I think I’ll pull it up now but kind of what you prefer this great framework folks to think of it is this mass-law hierarchy of need so I think if you're ready for it Sean, I’ll go ahead...

Sean: Yeah, so just before you put it up like, you know like you said fundamental human needs have been studied for a long time right, and you know mass-law has a hierarchy that you know probably many people who are watching this know but it's worth kind of just reviewing real quick but the fundamental part of the framework is you know one level it's on a triangle but one need one level of need is paramount and until that need is fulfilled the next level doesn't really matter. Right, so there are these core needs where you know you can put that up now, there are core needs that as a human if they're not fulfilled nothing else really matters and we're seeing parallels in the world [Graphics ] which we'll get to in a second, but this is the mass-law's hierarchy of needs so as humans right physiological needs such as you know being able to breathe and have food and water that's pretty you'd be pretty focused on that if you didn't have that and things like you know self-esteem isn't going to be on your mind right, you're going to be focused on how do I get food, how do I get water, you know and how do I get a home right and then after those sort of basic needs are fulfilled then your mind starts and most humans mind starts going into okay, now that I got that I want to make sure I have a job, I want to make sure I have more resources, I want to make sure my health is good I want to make sure you know I have some sort of longer term security in some way whether that's financial or psychological or whatever right, and after they're fulfilled then you start thinking about oh I want to have friends and I want to have a family and you know I want to have you know a significant other or whatever then the feelings of love and belonging start, but after you have that the theory goes then it's things like am I fulfilling my potential from achieving what I can achieve and am I confident am I respected in the community, and then the ultimate need is according to mass-law is self-actualization where you're you know you're basically operating at your highest self right, you're at from a morality perspective, you're creative, you have a purpose, you're solving problems that matter, you're basically reaching your potential as a human and basically contributing to society at the same time right, so that's the idea but you're not you're right Kirk if you didn't have a place to live and you didn't have enough food every day you contributing to society probably wouldn't be on your mind.

Kirk: Yes, I think this you know if the power goes out in my house or if I’m out of groceries you know that's the first thing I’m not going out and seeing people you know you need to serve these very baseline needs first otherwise that's you know that that's just a constant distraction before you can move on to all of these other elements and that's you know fundamental to everything else that I can do and enjoy is the sense, that the base of this pyramid is there.

Sean: And the really interesting thing is, We saw a similar kind of framework and needs come about as we've done all this workaround listening to patients and hcps around the patient support experience, that they've had over a number of years. and we've seen this kind of core needs emerge and then we've seen sort of higher-order needs also emerge that frankly all of them need to be fulfilled in order for a patient, your customer to onboard onto a new medication. So, what we're going to show next is the same type of framework but just put into a sort of a patient's lens and what needs to a patient have when [Graphics ] they're onboarding onto a new medication, and we call this the patient support services hierarchy of needs. So these are the needs that your patients have before they'll be ready to onboard onto a new medication and they have to be fulfilled Kirk, whether this is a high-touch rare disease or orphan product, you know case manager approach to patient support services or if it's sort of a broader mass-market product that requires doesn't require as much high touch but these needs still need to be fulfilled. They just are fulfilled in different ways.

Kirk: That's a great point and because fundamentally you know this pyramid is through the lens of from the patients, that we've heard from what do they need, and it doesn't matter the sale of support services that they receive, it's what do I fundamentally need when I’m getting support from you, you know what needs to be provided all right well why don't we jump back…

Sean: Let's go with the base one like remember we talked about food and air and water right for humans for patients it's financial security, So when they're considering onboarding into education medication they think, you know can I afford this or I can afford this is actually the affirmative that you'd want them to say and this is why a lot of patient support services dollars have gone into this access kind of level of co-pay, helping with co-pays you know understanding insurance options, start forms, claims verification you know helping hcps with pre-authorizations all that stuff right, would go into yeah right and this makes sense right Kirk, without this nothing else like then it doesn't really matter if you can't get this need fulfilled.

Kirk: Exactly, and to your point I think this is often the first step for a patient kind of after they've been diagnosed with after they've been diagnosed and they're looking to receive therapy and one of the first things they have to find out is what's my coverage and you know how do I actually afford this, So before you move on to any other step a patient has to feel or caregiver has to feel I understand how this is going to incorporate into the way I can you know daily afford the life that I live and this is where you know of course a lot of these support teams and access teams invest a lot of their resources.

Sean: Without a doubt and it's that investment is well spent I would say.

Kirk: Yeah, and I would say certainly from my experience with working on, working with other patient support teams they tend to do very well at this phase of the pyramid.

Sean: We're going to find out next time when we dive into this with questions and benchmarks and all that there will be future PeopleMetrics LIVE! on each level of this hierarchy.

Kirk: Yeah, I can't give away too much of the game here.

Sean: No, and of course all of this is detailed in my new book Pharma customer experience there's actually a chapter on each one of these levels, which is coming out in November.

Kirk: Absolutely, But I think you know certainly something worth noting as far as the awareness of these teams, the awareness of support teams is there that this is something this is a need that I need to meet and as we're going through this pyramid the awareness isn't always there but on this fundamental it's certainly there.

Sean: Right, let's go to the, Okay, So once the patient feels like hey I can afford this then there's the next level. And that's what we call the need of logistical support so um we want the patient to say something like I know how to get my medication and I can get it in a reasonable time frame. Right, So this is about knowing you know where to go to receive the medication so for rare disease drugs right that this is a huge one, Right, especially you know if it's at if it's delivered at a third party center being able to go there, where how do I get there, is there any travel assistance if it's getting going to a pharmacy, which pharmacy do I go to how do I get there if it's a specialty pharmacy that's yet another level, Right Kirk, So it's this seems like it makes sense like of course but this experience has to be scripted and created for the patient in order for someone to onboard. So you have to think about what are you what are the logistical hurdles your patient may be going through to obtain the medication, and how can you help and support them in kind of making those hurdles go away.

Kirk: Yeah, and I think that's a great way you know the great thing you mentioned that I know we've mentioned this on previous PeopleMetrics LIVE! but you know this the customer the patient or the customer is going to have this experience whether or not you define it. The patient is going to need to you know find out which is the pharmacy is easiest for me to access and they're going to have kind of hurdles in their day to day to logistical access to their medicine, that they're either going to do with or without you now for some of our you know if it is a very complex therapy as you were saying where it's an infusion it's only especially pharmacies you do need to be very defined where some of our clients have if you go traveling we will help you find to wherever you're traveling where is the nearest therapy to you, So that does not work that's on you that's something where you have a trusted partner to get you there, But even before past market therapies you don't want to have to think through much of this logistical support, So as much as you can have a partner there to help you, with refills, with access to the medication that's a big that's a support that they see and value.

Sean: And when we do our PeopleMetrics LIVE! on this, We'll go into some out of the box ways that you might be able to help patients you know obtain the medication via some travel ideas and other kind of pieces I have in the book that I think are at least fun to consider.

Kirk: Yeah, Absolutely. And you know it's the out-of-the-box thinking is very important because it really is, I think we find when it comes to this pharmaceutical range of customer experience, it is a matter of changing your mindset. You want to think out of the box of not just how can I or it's not just a matter of making a drug anymore it's how do I make that process of accessing therapy as seamless as possible for our patients.

Sean: Okay, So after we have this hurdle taken care of… Then we have the next need, which is, how do I administer this medication? Right, you want the patient to say I know how to administer this medication, Again, for rare disease, this is a huge one if it's an injectable, it's something that you know can be complex, if it's an inhaler, it can be complex. Potentially, Even with mass-market products, it's around you know how do I consume it, how often do I consume it, what do I consume it with, what are some interactions that I can't, what are some things that I can't take with it. There are, this need is just fundamental across any product and you know we you can go from like… nurse educators going into homes of patients for highly complex drugs, Right, to more informational digital type, offerings for all other products. So this one's a huge need, you have to be able to afford it, you have to know where to get it and then you have to know how to administer it. Those are the three fundamental patient needs that we keep saying over and over again.

Kirk: Yeah, and I think you know something I’d note about this one is you can never be too clear and I think you might think we just have a pill you know it's easy enough, but there is any number of questions that come up with even just pills up, of course, how often should I take it, do I take it before a meal, after a meal? you know what do I do if I miss it and these are things that communicating this very clearly is essential which you know of course pharmaceutical companies understand I need to communicate how to take this medication but from the patient's perspective, you know how to make it as easy as possible for them to understand and how do I become that resource to them that if they have any questions they know that you know they have a trusted resource that they can get to, where I can either answer these questions for them or direct them to someone who is better able to assist them.

Sean: Absolutely, I think when we get to this one on the next PeopleMetrics LIVE! whenever we do that one I think some of the data that we have on this is going to surprise people, you think that these are going to be home run scores but maybe not.

Kirk: Moving up the pyramid it's…

Sean: All right, Let's see okay after you get that taken care of then what's next? Then it's an overall support system, So there are these three fundamental needs but then patients need to feel like they have someone that they can rely on to get questions answered outside of these areas right, a member of their team if you will and this is what patient support services are, as well as patient forums and advocacy organizations that patient support services can direct patients to and it helps them become to have the feeling right Kirk, that I’m not in this alone there are others just like me who are going through this. I have an advocate on for my case manager if it's a rare disease type drug or I have lots of information at my fingertips digitally if it's not or if even if it is the digital part is huge and I can get all my questions answered that that allow me to move on to the highest order need that I have… that we'll get to in a second.

Kirk: Yeah, absolutely and I think there's a couple of things to note here on the support system… there is you know as a patient you want to have just a general sense of I feel, that you know if I do have any questions I know where I can go when I get answers because especially today if you have questions about your condition and you search online you're going to find any litany any number of things that are right or wrong, or people with their own kind of opinions and suggestions and so you know the issue almost isn't you know there's not enough information out there, the issue is you know what can I rely on what’s actually you know helpful to me and to kind of still this down into something that doesn't feel overwhelming which you know the wealth of information out there can be overwhelming to actually get to a source that I feel supported by and that's really critical which is…

Sean: You know Kirk, I just want to point out one thing, you know folks are in this business are probably looking at us and saying well there are certain questions I can't answer and you know patients are going to ask questions to my people that I don't, you know by law we can't answer, but that's we hear that and we appreciate it but there's the next level to that correct [Music]

Kirk: Absolutely…

Sean: It's not about no… I’m what I’m saying is just because you can't answer it, it doesn't mean that you can't provide them to a place that could.

Kirk: Yes

Sean: That's where I’m getting.

Kirk: Yeah, and I think you know I’ve been in a lot of just rooms speaking with patients and hearing about the experience not just within you know pharmaceutical company but broadly in healthcare space, and often I think an issue you'll hear is that… the patient is moving from kind of folks who have you know their sphere of ownership of see to my doctor and then my insurance provider and then perhaps to a specialist into my pharmaceutical company and they are having to often bridge a lot of these gaps… on their own kind of jump from one space to the next and that's what can kind of cause a lot of confusion and even just the act of helping to you know you the pharmaceutical company need to understand I have a specific sphere of ownership I am not your doctor your insurance provider but I can help direct you kind of where we're incapable and can live within bounds of what I’m allowed to do but still be helpful rather than be this kind of brick wall that you hit as soon as you ask the wrong question, which it is important to understand as a patient they don't necessarily understand these spheres of ownership, they don't have a clear understanding of all the regulatory hurdles so it's a matter of how can I guide them through this it's best I can…

Sean: We've and we've had a client we've had clients where you know we've gotten this feedback and then they've changed the approach that they've used to answer questions from patients to say instead of saying I can't legally answer this question, sorry it's… this is I can direct you I I can't answer this question but I can direct you to these resources that might be able to and then they provide that and that is so much better of approach and a better experience for the patient and will be better for them in the long run and give them a better chance to onboard. So it's just things like that that are important to think about here.

Kirk: Yeah, and that's really crucial and that's because when it comes to what we're recommending it's not you know break the law you know just forget what the regulation there what we're saying is, be more of an off-ramp when patients have these needs rather than a brick wall that they hit up against and that's the key to being a support system.

Sean: That's a good way to put it. All right, and then once you get once a patient feels supported then it's the ultimate need is confidence. So the patients need to feel in their gut that you know what I’m ready to onboard and be unprepared for treatment and I’m confident that I’ve gotten all of my questions answered, I know how to administer this, I know where to get it, I know I can afford it, Yeah now is the time that I’m going to go and begin my treatment journey and that's really the ultimate need in the patient hierarchy of needs and I would argue that's the ultimate goal of patient support services teams whether they're digital, whether they're pubs, whether they're you know in-house with case managers, it's to help instill confidence in patients that they're they know everything they need to know to onboard onto a new medication.

Kirk: Yeah, precise and I think… often when you hear from patients it's worth keeping in mind you know this broader lens what they want to be able to do is just… go on with their lives not have to think about this stuff as much and then you know once you get that confidence in your own treatment this confidence that any questions I have will be answered any kind of changes in my day-to-day life can be accommodated then you have that confidence that not only can I kind of stick with my treatment but I can move on with my day-to-day life which is that ultimate goal, if you haven't through your support services giving patients a sense in that confidence to go about kind of with their daily lives then you've missed something here further down the chain that you need to really you know work and build your way up to.

Sean: So, in future PeopleMetrics LIVE! we'll be going through questions so we have a total of 15 questions Kirk, Right, that go across these five needs so there's 15 in total not 15 per just 15 total and they break, there's a couple in each one, three-four in each for each need, and yeah, we'll go through what questions you need to ask and we'll give you some kind of ranges of what we're seeing patients you know, come in at on these various needs and where Pharma could definitely improve and where they're performing really well so that those will be great sessions in the future.

Kirk: Absolutely, let me check and you know so we do have some just a question here, I think we have someone who brought up again kind of that there are, you know some strict limits on what we can discuss with patients. I’ll have you address this from a regulatory perspective.

Sean: Right, yeah I think it's sort of what we said is you know getting a battery of what are those questions and you know the good news is, you know they're sort of known like we've looked we've been doing this so long, we kind of know what questions patients ask that you sort of can't answer and then the key is, to have an answer to their question of that off-ramp that you talked about… like where can they get these questions answered. Right, are they advocacy groups? Are they patient forums? Are there you know what insurance, you know the information you can direct them to? It's anticipating these questions with and knowing which ones you can't answer and then having an answer to where they can get those answers if that makes sense.

Kirk: Yeah, and that's a great point and I think you know the way I think about it is, I don't think there's it's rare or it's almost never been the case for one of our clients where you know that their inability to help a patient has been a strictly regulatory issue. You know it's generally that you know they see that there is this regulatory concern, you know down the road and so they have a fear of you know doing anything that can help patients and so it's more of a mindset issue for a lot of these things. It's you there's a lot you can do you know within the bounds of what you that you're regulatorily capable of doing and it's a matter of how to have you kind of flushed that out to make sure you're fully supporting patients within the balance of what you're able to do so.

Sean: Exactly.

Kirk: All right, Well, I think that that's all we've got for today… but thank you again for joining us. Have a great rest of the day and hope to see you again soon on another edition of PeopleMetrics LIVE!! Bye.

Sean: Thanks, Bye.

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Posted on 08-24-2021