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Enhancing Patient Engagement: Insights from Access USA 2024

Why authenticity, collaboration, and empathy matter in patient services.
Read about three key areas where patient service providers are focusing to better service patients' needs with advocates and biopharma.

The 2024 Access USA conference served as a pivotal gathering, bringing together leaders from across commercial biopharma, including rare disease, patient assistance, access programs, and hub and specialty service providers. Through engaging discussions, attendees gleaned valuable insights into emerging industry trends, underlining the significance of collaboration in patient engagement to address gaps in education throughout the treatment journey. This collaborative endeavor aims to create a personalized experience that cultivates humility, fosters trust, and drives adherence, with empathy and compassion at the forefront.

Cultivating Authenticity and Empathy

Over the past 14 years, technological advancements, particularly in conversational AI, have transformed patient engagement. Chatbots and virtual assistants have evolved into sophisticated tools, facilitating meaningful interactions with users. At UBC, our collaboration with Patient Services Leaders has enabled us to tailor Linda, our virtual assistant, to meet the diverse needs of stakeholders. Through this partnership, patient services programs have effectively addressed various topics, including product and disease state education, appointment reminders, notifications of prescribed shipments, and more.

As the healthcare industry continues to embrace advanced technology for personalized care, prioritizing authenticity and empathy in patient engagement becomes crucial. Authenticity starts with understanding each patient’s unique needs and preferences, listening with empathy, and communicating in a language that resonates with them. Unfortunately, the industry often falls short of tailoring messages based on genuine patient needs, resulting in missed opportunities to enhance the patient’s experience.

At Access USA we heard patients emphasize the importance of forging stronger connections within healthcare systems. To address this, UBC advocates actively surveying the patient population while leveraging digital engagement solutions through guided conversations. These tools offer valuable insights, enabling patient service providers to make minor adjustments, optimize programs, and foster authentic relationships with patients. Effective communication, characterized by clear language and regular checks for patient understanding, further fortifies the bond with patients, ensuring continuous support throughout their journey.

The Power of Collaboration

In today’s dynamic healthcare landscape, patients are increasingly taking an active role in advocating for their own healthcare needs. However, this newfound responsibility can often lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and a sense of being unsupported throughout their treatment journey. The growing role of patient advocacy within the world today has become increasingly important to the empowerment, education, support, policy influence, research, and innovation of healthcare systems today. Recognizing the importance of patient advocacy, patient services providers must support manufacturers in leveraging collaboration with patient advocacy groups to enhance the quality of care provided to patients.

Patient advocacy plays a crucial role in improving health outcomes, enhancing satisfaction within the care experience, and even reducing costs associated with healthcare delivery. During Access USA, patients expressed a clear desire for better engagement from healthcare providers and manufacturers alike. They emphasized the need for collaboration to address gaps in patient education and foster qualities such as humility, compassion, and trust within the healthcare system.

Speakers at Access USA emphasized the potential benefits of collaboration in increasing awareness among Medicare beneficiaries about the Medicare prescription payment plan, also known as the M3P. This initiative enables beneficiaries to “smooth” their out-of-pocket costs throughout the year by making incremental installment payments. Educating beneficiaries about the M3P can help them effectively manage their healthcare expenses and ease the financial burdens associated with prescription medications. With the impending changes due to the Inflation Reduction Act, there is a heightened importance for improved patient communication and advocacy.

Collaborating closely with patient advocacy groups allows healthcare service providers to gain valuable insights into the unique needs and preferences of patients. By meeting patients where they are and actively involving advocacy partners in decision-making processes, providers can tailor their approach to better meet patient needs. This collaborative effort not only enhances the patient’s experience but also leads to better treatment outcomes in the long run.

UBC’s VP, Patient Access & Engagement Dana Edwards also discussed the key role that social determinants of health play in meeting patients where they are with tailored patient services and messaging. Understanding the environmental barriers that face your unique patient population significantly contributes to being able to have a collaborative, mutually beneficial patient services program design and execution.

Collaboration between patient service providers, manufacturers, and patient advocacy groups is indispensable in crafting a patient-centered healthcare system. By uniting forces, we can effectively bridge gaps in patient education, nurture empathy, and build trust, thereby enhancing the overall quality of care delivered to patients. Moreover, by combining technological innovation with empathetic communication, we can revolutionize patient engagement, leading to improved outcomes and fostering stronger relationships with patients.

About UBC

UBC designs purpose-built patient support programs to meet the needs of the patient type and indication. By focusing dedicated team members on the patient’s needs, we can increase the number of patients that start therapy and help each patient stay on therapy. To learn more about our purposeful access, affordability, and adherence solutions, click here.

About the Author

Brahenn Williams, Associate Director of Patient Support Services at UBC, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in healthcare management from the University of Phoenix, AZ. With over 10 years of experience, Brahenn specializes in supporting hub services, access, and specialty programs. Currently, he serves as a subject matter expert in the implementation of patient support services and UBC’s digital engagement platform.

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President & Chief Executive Officer

Bekki Bracken Brown serves as the President and CEO of UBC, guiding the company’s mission and values, including the improvement of access for patients to receive better outcomes. She oversees all aspects of UBC, such as operations, business growth strategy, sales and marketing, and acquisition support.

With over 20 years of industry experience, Ms. Brown brings knowledge from a successful career in senior management from her tenure at Quintiles, INC Research, and, most recently, with Syneos Health. She’s been a member of the North Carolina BIO Board of Directors since 2019. She is also a member of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association — Southeast Chapter and CHIEF, an organization that supports women executive leaders. Ms. Brown earned her bachelor’s degree at Duke University.