Expert Discusses Effective Patient Assistance Programs

O’Mally Monahan, vice president of Operations at McKesson RxO, discusses patient assistant programs and how they can reduce a delay in treatment.

In an interview with Pharmacy Times® at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Midyear Meetings and Exhibition, O’Mally Monahan, MPH, vice president of Operations at McKesson RxO, discusses patient assistant programs and how they can reduce a delay in treatment.

Q: What are the elements of an effective patient assistance program?

O’Mally Monahan: So first, thanks for the opportunity for letting me share how McKesson’s patient assistance program can maximize health system value and bring more access and affordability to patients. In my mind, when I think about effective patient assistance, or PAP program, I think about people, technology, and expertise. So really, you need to have dedicated resources who are knowledgeable on patient assistance program to help make sure you are able to maximize the value to the patients. When I think about dedicated resources, I'm thinking about individuals or a team who only support patient assistance and then are not pulled in other areas and taken off of the patient assistance work.

When I think about technology, the technology is there to help build efficiencies. The technology is there to help the process to make it more efficient, so you're able to maximize the value. When you're thinking of technology, you really want to have a technology that identifies opportunity, helps you stay compliant in the process, and has built in value metrics and efficiencies to help everything run more smoothly.

Then expertise. patient advocates really need to have a thorough understanding of what resources are available, they need to be empathetic, nS they need to be able to not take no for an answer Because when patients’ lives are at stakes, it is very important to make sure that they have the access to these medications.

Q: How can patients benefit from patient assistance programs?

O’Mally Monahan: Patients can benefit from PAP programs and in 3 different ways. I think about it as access, adherence, and affordability. When you get a patient enrolled into a patient assistance program, they then have access to the medication. If they're a patient who has insurance and is underinsured, it makes the drug more affordable. Then, if you're getting free medication, you're also increasing adherence, so the patient is more likely to take the treatment through the full cycle of the medication as prescribed.

Q: What is McKesson’s First Dose technology and how can it help to streamline identifying patients for the patient assistance programs?

O’Mally Monahan: McKesson’s first dose technology integrates scheduling data into the workflow. The way that this benefits the patient assistance workflow is that it allows to identify opportunity prospectively rather than retrospectively. You're able to better understand what patients would qualify for beforehand and not after. The first dose technology allows patients to be more aware of the programs that are out there and thus move forward with treatment. It helps with adherence as well.

Q: Why is it important to identify patients who need these programs ahead of treatment?

O’Mally Monahan: Today, about 30 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured, and according to a recent study by the American Heart Association, medication costs and copayments are directly associated to adherence. Patients who have access to the medication are more likely to stay on treatment. I'll say historically, patient assistance programs looked at opportunity more retrospective, so after a patient was treated, they were then able to be enrolled into a program. Now patients want to know about what's available for them to help with reduce the financial burden, so they're more active in patient assistance programs when you are getting them enrolled prior to treatment.

Q: How can pharmacists approach these conversations with patients, since it could be a sensitive topic for some?

O’Mally Monahan: You're exactly right. It is a sensitive topic, and sometimes it's the elephant in the room. I really believe that the health care team should be the one responsible to help bring this topic up and make sure a patient understands what opportunities are out there. I think one of the benefits of the McKesson Pharmacy Recovery Solution is to have patients or advocates dedicated to help and support and enroll patients into the programs because health systems are busy. Clinicians and pharmacists are busy, and if they're able to hand off the opportunity or direct a patient to one of our McKesson, patient advocates to help them enroll into a program. We are better equipped and able to help identify what opportunities they may be eligible for and help them get enrolled into the process.

Q: Any closing thoughts?

O’Mally Monahan: So beyond patient benefits, McKesson is packed full-service recovery can increase relationships with the health system and drive more value around patient assistance programs for the patients. It's an industry standard that patient assistance programs can help save hospitals between 2% and 3% of their drugs spend. For large organizations that can result in millions of dollars of value.

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