• Douglas Bock

Goldilocks and the 3 HUBs: How to find a HUB that’s just right for your brand

Illustration of 3 measuring spoons

Twenty years ago, most patient access HUBs were reserved for medical-benefit, buy-and-bill products. A novelty even for specialty brands, HUBs were extremely specialized and singularly focused on helping patients get on a drug and stay on the drug.

Fast forward to today: HUBs are ubiquitous for all types of specialty drugs. Their missions have expanded beyond reimbursement support to encompass non-commercial dispensing, home nursing coordination, and even assistance enrolling patients in insurance plans.

The steady, persistent expansion of HUB services into all facets of market access and virtually all product categories is a reality.

It’s tempting to look at the industry leaders in HUB services, many of which are managed internally by the manufacturer, and think, “Yep, my brand needs that.” But, it’s not that simple. There's a variety of factors to consider when selecting your ideal HUB model, ranging from the time you have before launch, to how best to meet the unique needs of your patient population, to long-term company-wide plans.

One size does not fit all when it comes to HUB selection.

Remember Goldilocks and how she tried each of the Three Bears’ porridge, chairs, and beds before finding one that was just right? Goldilocks enjoyed having so many choices, but the Bears were less than pleased with her methods. You probably don’t have the luxury of trying three HUB options. And that approach would certainly risk angering the Bears, ahem … executives, at your organization. Instead, we recommend considering three basic categories in your search for that just-right HUB fit.

1. Internally Managed HUBs

Some of the best HUBs in the industry today are internally managed. These HUBs establish a strong personal connection between the call center and the patient.The employees are invested in the success of their efforts and they understand how each patient makes a difference to the company’s reputation and bottom line. Internal HUBs represent a strategic differentiation for the organization that can be enviable. But it’s easy to overlook years and years of trial and error and the millions of dollars required to reach the level of sophistication these HUBs demonstrate today.

An internal HUB may be best for your brand if: 1) Your company is in a position to hire the people to manage and staff the HUB; and 2) Your company has a solid pipeline that can leverage this internal expertise and infrastructure to support other brands.

2. External/Vendor Managed HUBs

The primary reason for outsourcing your HUB is to build on the existing experience and operational infrastructure of a patient services organization.Today’s marketplace has many qualified companies who operate HUBs and other patient engagement activities. It’s all they do, and they’ve put in the time to build models that can quickly and effectively be scaled to meet your needs. Manufacturers can build great patient service programs with external HUB providers, though it’s always important to vigilantly monitor their performance.

Fully outsourcing may be best for your brand if: 1) You don’t have much time to prepare your HUB before launch; 2) Your legal team feels more comfortable creating distance between your employees and your patients; and 3) This brand is a one-off in your portfolio, with no products in your pipeline that will have similar HUB-related needs.

3. Hybrid HUBs

For some brands, a blend of internally and externally managed functions makes sense. Many companies today choose to handle the “front-end” patient and customer activity (call center) with their own employees and trust the “back-end” operations to vendors with proven processes. This can be the best of both worlds, but seamless coordination can be tricky.

A hybrid approach may make sense for your brand if: 1) You believe that your own people will provide a better experience for your patients and customers; 2) Your company is willing to make the investment to build this customer-facing competency; and 3) your company has a 5- to 10-year strategy that calls for scalability.

Take it from Goldilocks, finding the HUB model that fits your brand is worth the time and energy.

Contact us to find out how Archbow Consulting can guide your team through this and other key strategic decisions during your launch planning.