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Leveraging Digital Health Tools to Advance Patient Support Solutions

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Summary

Digital health tools are an increasingly important component of complete patient support solutions that can optimize patient care, yet they are currently underutilized.

Overview

Patient support solutions include tools and offerings designed to increase patient access to and affordability of therapies. Although these offerings have historically included financial support such as copay and free drug programs, patient support solutions have also expanded to address socioeconomic barriers to care, such as health literacy, access to transportation and lodging. In addition, patient support across the care continuum increasingly includes digital health tools. However, digital patient support tools remain vastly underutilized.

Digital Health Tools Enhance Patient Support Offerings

Digital health tools include categories such as infusion site locators, patient engagement apps, and digital therapeutics (e.g., prescription digital therapeutics). Manufacturers are exploring opportunities to leverage tools such as care coordination resources as part of existing patient support programs for on-market drugs. Other organizations are developing new digital health technologies, such as mobile adherence applications, that can be used alongside pharmaceutical drugs. Each step of the patient journey presents opportunities for these stakeholders to engage and provide patient support using digital health tools.

Figure 1. Opportunities for the Use of Digital Health Tools Throughout the Patient Journey
Figure 1. Opportunities for the Use of Digital Health Tools Throughout the Patient Journey

Underutilization of Digital Patient Support Solutions

Patient support services are typically built for and used most frequently at select points in the patient care journey, such as when a patient starts or changes medications or experiences a change in benefits. Digital health tools can help to address challenges that patients face at these points, yet persistent challenges, such as lack of digital health literacy, limit uptake by both patients and providers. Although 89% of American adults reported using the Internet in 2018, research shows that many people lack confidence in their ability to navigate digital health tools. Additionally, barriers to Internet access—stratified by age and race—limit the availability of these tools for many Americans. In 2021, broadband Internet access varied among Black (71%), Hispanic (65%), and White (80%) Americans.

Despite underutilization, patients express interest in accessing additional support services. A patient survey of 4,800 respondents showed that substantial proportions of patients are interested especially in tools supporting medication affordability (40%), educational resources (37%), and refilling medication (29%). Patients also cited the need for emotional support tools and support in medication adherence and filling new medications.

Considerations for Manufacturers and Digital Health Technology Organizations

As stakeholders consider initiatives to advance patient support solutions to ensure healthcare access, adherence, and affordability, it is important to identify partnership opportunities among manufacturers, digital health vendors, providers, and patients. Expanding patient access to digital health tools requires manufacturers to consider market access, regulatory, and payer strategies associated with making these solutions available to patients. Figure 2 details key steps for stakeholders seeking to identify appropriate digital health tools and ensure patient access.

Figure 2. Manufacturer Steps for Implementation of Digital Patient Support Tools
Figure 2. Manufacturer Steps for Implementation of Digital Patient Support Tools

To learn more about how we apply our robust expertise at the intersection of digital health and patient support services to help stakeholders maximize opportunities for implementation of digital health solutions, connect with us.

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