Case Study

Developing a PSP to support pediatric patients undergoing a first-to-market drug treatment

For this project, S3 Connected Health developed a patient support program (PSP) to support parents and carers administering a transformative, first-to-market drug to children living with a rare pediatric condition.

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How do you find the answer when you can’t ask the questions?

The drug in question was in the pre-approval stages in Europe, limiting our ability to ask patients and their families directly about the potential impact of the drug on their lives, and subsequently, the ability of the pharmaceutical company to alleviate these impacts.

At the same time, the client had a limited history of patient support programs and there was skepticism in the company around their value.

There was a clear need for us both to highlight the challenges that patients and families may experience, and build a case to assist internal champions at the pharma company to secure funding for a support tool that could alleviate these challenges when the drug was launched.

Primary research was essential to understanding patient challenges

With limitations on what we could ask about drug treatment, we deduced patient and caregiver behavior from other aspects of patients’ current and previous situations, from their current decision-making processes around existing treatments, what they value particularly, and so on.

We undertook a total of 34 semi-structured interviews with adolescent patients and their parents in Italy, France, Germany, and Spain, and combined our findings with wider behavioral psychology and needs analysis to fully understand their individual challenges.

This allowed us to create a map that highlighted critical support opportunities and solution guidance, and this patient-centric design ensured the client that the end product would be firmly grounded in true unmet needs and patient/HCP priorities.

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Combining best-practice principles and client input to create a bespoke digital-first service

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Our findings concluded that parents and children require support in three key areas to manage long term emotional challenges:

  • Support associated with their condition and short term emotional challenges associated with administering an injectable treatment.
  • Support scheduling and fitting treatment into their already active and busy lives
  • Support adhering to treatment in the long term.
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Using best practice techniques we designed a solution that addressed these challenges, made up of:

  • A planner, to action plan, prompt, monitor, and provide rewards, with personalized feedback.
  • Multimodal resource section to suit parents and children’s learning needs in order to upskill in treatment administration.
  • In-the-moment emotional support incorporating meditation and distraction techniques.
  • Long-term coping strategies to build resilience in parents and children.
  • Data-driven nurse support.

Our holistic approach ensured a speedy journey from proposition to prototype

Our comprehensive approach was augmented with a clear value proposition, definition, and in-depth validation. The development of a high-fidelity prototype, combined with a commercial-style clip, offered a clear articulation of the value of the service and a visualization of the solution in terms of functionality and experience.

The effectiveness of the prototype played a key role in securing financial commitment to proceed with the development of the digital-first PSP.

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We built in regulatory compliance right from the start

Pharmaceutical companies are risk-averse, and that the idea of a digital-first PSP brought a range of regulatory compliance concerns to the fore.

We overcame this by making regulatory compliance a key part of the project at the very earliest stages, and worked with the client throughout the ideation and concept development phases to guarantee compliance with all relevant rules and legislation in all parts of the PSP.

Our takeaways for the pharma industry

Our experience developing this PSP offers a range of takeaways for pharma companies who are interested in developing PSPs:

  • Solution mapping that is grounded in patient challenges and visualization in the form of prototypes and video work extremely well in situations where the stakeholder map is complex and consensus-based, and/or the business is highly risk-averse.

  • Visualizations should capture the spirit of the experience as well as the functionality, as both are key in persuading skeptics of the value of the solution and the challenges it is intending to solve.

  • Engaging patient advocacy groups and end-users early in the process is essential in ensuring alignment with the patient community and garnering support for any solution. A ground-up approach here will assist with buy-in later on.

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