'Make or break time’ for pharma to embrace next-gen patient support programs

May 30, 2018 Simona Nucera

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'Make or break time’ for pharma to embrace next-gen patient support programs
  • Survey of pharma leaders finds widespread view that patient support programs hold huge value and potential as future revenue stream
  • Combining digital technologies with behavioral science offers hope of deeper personalization for patients
  • But pharma must lose preoccupation with branded programs and show value through outcomes – or risk losing out to tech giants

Dublin, May 30, 2018 - The pharma industry is at a critical crossroads and must take advantage of digital technologies to provide ‘beyond the pill’ patient support programs, industry leaders have warned in a new report.

The survey of top global pharma insiders has uncovered widespread concerns that current patient support programs (PSPs) used by the industry are not demonstrating the cost-effectiveness, scalability and improved patient outcomes payers and regulators increasingly expect to see.

Entitled ‘Patient Support Programs: Now, Near, Next’, the report, co-authored by eyeforpharma and S3 Connected Health, contains insights from more than 20 industry experts currently designing and implementing PSPs from firms including Novartis, AstraZeneca, Sanofi and Takeda.

The report outlines how powerful mega-trends are reshaping healthcare – volume to value, patient-centricity, rising customer expectations, tech disruption. In response, many pharma firms have invested in PSPs to show added value and as a key source of real-world evidence.

Current approaches have relied heavily on nurse delivery and have offered patients a standardized experience. What's needed now, say the experts, is far greater personalization - the “cohort of one” - that can be achieved by applying behavioral science techniques via digital platforms.

There is general agreement across the industry that the next generation of PSPs will be rooted in behavioral science and recognize that patient needs in relation to the management of their conditions will change over time. Technology now makes it possible to understand patients’ emotional reaction to, and factors affecting the management of their disease in everyday life  to personalize the support provided accordingly.

This change in mindset needs to deliver value for all stakeholders with an interest in the patient’s health – from healthcare professionals to caregivers and family members – by providing them with relevant, timely and condition-specific information.

The contributors also agree that true personalization is still in its infancy. By harnessing the full range of data inputs – from patient-reported surveys to passively collected data through devices – next-gen programs can move beyond the “crude segmentation and simplistic profiling of traditional programs” toward “true personalization to the individual”.

The industry experts also agree that, in future, pharma must abandon its focus on brand in relation to PSPs. The fragmented landscape for pharma-branded PSPs is widely seen as unhelpful for healthcare professionals or patients. Instead, collaboration is needed to create condition- and brand-agnostic new intelligent digital platforms that enable patients to manage multiple comorbidities through a single portal.

The paper concludes with a blunt assessment: “If pharma doesn’t step up then the tech companies will”. With integrated health monitoring apps from the likes of Apple and Google gaining ground, pharma companies need to be prepared to break down the silos between them and develop chargeable services independent of drugs themselves.

Jim O’Donoghue, VP, S3 Connected Health, said:

“This report provides an invaluable snapshot of the latest thinking among pharma leaders when it comes to patient support programs.

“What’s very clear is that pharma insiders are all too aware of the limitations of current PSPs. They recognize the need for a more sophisticated approach that brings together behavioral science and digital technologies to deliver smarter programs that are scalable across populations and geographies and show value – in the form of better patient outcomes – far more clearly.

“It will require bravery and imagination, but there are clear benefits, not least owning the digital patient journey, even in areas where you don’t even have a drug. It can lead to new revenue models going far beyond drugs that came from your own pipeline.

Fundamentally, it’s about impacting patient outcomes – if your solution has the best impact, it will have a high value proposition in the market.”

Paul Simms, Chairman, eyeforpharma, said:

“Patient support programs are no longer a ‘nice to have’. Nowadays, getting PSPs right can mean the difference between success or failure – but even more than that, they’re an as-yet untapped opportunity to do a lot more than just the branded, educational, focused initiatives of old.

“Done well, patients can be supported and managed in a far more profound way. But it’s not about putting more money into it; getting them right requires serious upfront insight, design and ambition – as much thought as we put into the medicine the PSP was inspired by.”

Link to Full Report

About S3 Connected Health

S3 Connected Health design and develop digitally enhanced patient support programs that increase engagement, enable patient self-management and improve healthcare outcomes. We start with understanding patients' needs, integrating behavioral science with our cloud-based platform to deliver personalized support specific to each patient's condition and circumstance.

For more information on developing patient support programs with S3 Connected Health, visit

About eyeforpharma

Our mission is to make pharma more open and valued. We provide a hub for senior pharma executives, patient advocacy groups and other health experts to exchange ideas and stay upto-date with shifting trends and practices.

Through our commentary, events, reports and other expert-driven content, we aim to facilitate positive change through discussion and debate, enable dialogue and drive the positive benefits that pharmaceuticals can offer.

For more on eyeforpharma, visit


For further information, please contact William Lyons at S3 Connected Health on +353 1 563 2000 or email