Specialty medications have revolutionized the way we treat patients by providing targeted therapies for complex and chronic conditions. These medications – many of which are high-cost or require specific handling or delivery mechanisms – demand a comprehensive onboarding process in order to ensure the medication is covered by a patient’s insurance, is required therapeutically, and can be delivered effectively.
While some of the administrative steps to start a patient on a specialty medication may include benefit verification, prior authorization, and financial assistance, ensuring an efficient onboarding experience is crucial to optimize treatment outcomes and enhance patient satisfaction. In this blog, we will explore the importance of specialty medication onboarding and discuss key strategies for streamlining the process.
Understanding Specialty Medications
Specialty medications are typically used to treat rare diseases, complex conditions, or cases where traditional medications have been ineffective. They often require specialized handling, administration, and monitoring due to their unique characteristics. Examples of specialty medications include biologics, gene therapies, and immunomodulators, with treatments for cancer, hepatitis, and hemophilia often falling into the specialty medication category.
There are upwards of 1,000 specialty medications in the market today, each of which requires unique forms and signatures before being administered. Given their complexity of delivery and high costs, a well-designed onboarding process becomes vital for treatment success.
The Significance of Streamlined Onboarding
In order for a patient to begin treatment on a specialty medication, a robust and often complex onboarding process must be completed. While necessary to ensure insurance information, communication preferences, medication availability, and pharmacy delivery details, the manual process itself often impedes medication adherence.
Creating a more streamlined onboarding process – through an end-to-end solution like the one offered by RxLightning – can drive significant benefits:
- Patient Empowerment: A seamless specialty medication onboarding process empowers patients by providing them with the necessary knowledge and resources to actively participate in their treatment. A clear journey helps educate them about medication administration, potential side effects, financial support options, and monitoring requirements, while fostering a sense of confidence and self-management.
- Treatment Speed: A digital onboarding experience improves speed-to-therapy, as patients and providers are more likely to complete necessary documentation and signatures in a methodical manner. Successful onboarding also minimizes ambiguities, requires step-by-step completion, and addresses any concerns patients may have (financial or otherwise), thereby promoting speedy onboarding and early treatment compliance.
- Optimized Treatment Outcomes: The onboarding process serves as a critical foundation for achieving positive treatment outcomes over time. By ensuring patients and healthcare providers are well-informed, onboarding contributes to the safe and effective use of specialty medications. This, in turn, enhances the potential for successful treatment and improved patient outcomes.
Strategies for Streamlining Specialty Medication Onboarding
While the benefits of a digital, end-to-end medication onboarding process are clear, it can be difficult to implement such a solution. Three essential strategies for streamlining the onboarding process include:
- Utilize Technology Integrations: Leveraging connected technologies can significantly improve the specialty medication onboarding journey. Online portals and mobile notifications can provide patients with easy access to documents needing signature, educational materials, treatment schedules, and reminders. Integrated platforms also allow for easy access and real-time updates to all relevant stakeholders so that there are no delays from one step of the process to the next. Most importantly however, is the ability to access all parts of the onboarding journey, regardless of technology vendor. For example, a provider should be able to seamlessly access real-time benefit checks, prior authorization, patient consent, and patient assistance programs – all in one platform.
- Enable Clear Communication: Effective communication between providers, specialty pharmacies, and patients is vital throughout the onboarding process. Timely and concise information about the medication, its cost, and potential insurance requirements should be conveyed in a manner easily understandable by patients. Clear communication helps set expectations and minimizes confusion.
- Measure and Optimize the Process: When launching a new medication onboarding process, there will likely be challenges and areas for improvement. Without the necessary tracking mechanisms in place however, stakeholders will not have visibility into recurring hurdles or where improvements can be made. Real-time data on the acquisition of patient consent, provider utilization, and (un)successful enrollments will significantly improve the speed in which issues can be resolved.
The specialty medication onboarding process plays a pivotal role in empowering patients, improving treatment adherence, and optimizing outcomes. By implementing seamless technology integrations, clear communication, and robust tracking mechanisms we can create an onboarding process that supports patients in successfully navigating their treatment journey.
As the field of specialty medications continues to advance, prioritizing efficient and effective onboarding becomes increasingly crucial to deliver the best possible care to patients.