Why we’re still talking about PSPs
This is an easy one: the need is still there. More interestingly, however, the value offered by them has not yet been tapped into. A study that fascinates me is Noorduyn et al, 2021, which speaks to the average persistence of patients on an asthma medication. The study doesn’t look into the effect of the PSP specifically, but the data was only available because of patients’ use of a basic patient programme.
The level of anonymised insight these programmes offer into patient behaviour, to help us understand how we can maximise outcomes from treatments in real-world settings, is crucial to have access to in order to improve the quality of the care we deliver.
Layered on top of that is the value of superior support programmes, which can reduce the risk of therapy discontinuation by upwards of 70%, as seen in the case of Abbvie’s Humira (Marshall et al, 2018), and AstraZeneca’s Fasenra (Rabe et al., 2023).
Why aren’t more PSPs able to reach full potential?
Given the evidence of their value, and clear role to fill for patients and healthcare customers, why is PSP development and implementation losing momentum?
For one, they’re hard work. Not only are the operations and capabilities required for patient support unfamiliar to deliver, but organisations implementing this type of service are often left wondering how to evaluate success. This leaves PSPs as a clunky part of the product toolkit which is difficult to reconcile with the prevailing strategy.
Furthermore, a rise in the advertisement of “lightweight PSPs” built around digital and flashy apps has led to a number of PSPs being put in place which fulfil 20% of the need but present themselves as the full package, which means the service is associated by many to be delivering minimal value and primarily style over substance.
This phenomenon is often paired with the need for easy solutions to manage the complexity of different markets and the need for a one size fits all solution, as well as low regulatory confidence and a desire to avoid unnecessary changes to a working, approved formula.
Neither of these challenges remove or take away from the real patient value and real business return that quality support programmes can deliver when executed with the right objectives in mind, the right stakeholders in the room, and the right measures of success.
To do this, we must look to the market-leading PSPs that have boasted outcomes that the industry should be striving to replicate across all therapy areas, such as those shown by AbbVie Cares and AZ Connect360 which we’ve referenced above.