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  • Sheryl Heinle

Quality: pharma’s forgotten differentiator

Quality of work has become a defining factor in differentiating brands from their competition. Good quality is heralded by customers and rewarded with loyalty while poor quality can result in quite the opposite.

In the pharmaceutical industry, quality is defined as a measurable degree of excellence determined by your desired consumer experience and the voice of the customer.

Poor quality within a HUB patient support service program can lead to delays in patient treatment, loss of prescriber confidence, and users seeking alternative avenues to access or competitive therapeutic options.

This harsh reality is leading more and more pharma organizations to ask, “What is poor quality costing us?” and “What can we do to stop the downstream impact of poor quality on our bottom line and brand reputation?”

With the rising cost of operating a HUB, are you seeing minimal results or value added to your patient support offering? Ask yourself:

  • Do you find that you are focused on remediation efforts vs. opportunities to improve, re-design, or create new value for your brand?

  • Are customer complaints forcing you to create complaint trackers that do not produce any actionable improvements, but take hours away from your time?

  • Is poor quality output creating rework, reducing internal operational efficiency?

  • Do you find that the solution to addressing complaints, rework, and poor quality is to add “people resources” to fix the problems or issues?

There is potential for pharma to lose thousands of dollars in profit daily due to poor quality of work (defects).

Experts have estimated that the Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ) typically amounts to 5-30 percent of gross sales for manufacturing and service companies. Yet most organizations believe their company's COPQ is less than 5 percent, or they just don't know what it is. *

For example, let’s say a HUB completes 200 benefit verifications (BVs) a day and has about 15 errors in that period. An error may be the wrong answer to a coverage question, but it also could be something as simple as not communicating the correct answer to the right person at a physician's office.

The immediate cost is the time involved in fixing the mistake. But longer term, four or five errors may creep into the mind of the customer, and that customer may choose a competitor product next time. Rework might cost $50, but the cost of a lost prescription may be $40,000 for a specialty product. So the cost of each error is some weighted average of these values - let’s say $1,500 for this example.

Fifteen errors out of 200 BVs may not seem like it will significantly impact your business or customer experience, but at a cost of $1,500 each, you could be losing $22,500 each day because of poor quality! When you extrapolate that cost across a year, you can better understand your cost of potential lost revenue (profit margin), market share, and prescriber confidence.

When quality comes first, acting as a framework and foundation for a program, there is rarely a need for remediation. Therefore, we advise each new program design should begin with a Quality Management System (QMS). Often, organizations incorporate quality LAST in their planning, which leads to it being addressed FIRST in remediation.

However, if your existing program wasn’t built on a QMS, remember that it’s not too late. The costs associated with poor quality are almost always higher than the price of rebuilding with a solid QMS in place. Restructuring programs to focus on quality is a growing trend, and something our team works on every day.

Our clients are evidence that implementing a QMS can:

  • Provide an integrated and closed-loop corrective action process

  • Identify points of operational and systemic improvements, and achieve higher throughput

  • Reduce process variability- for instance, how the same question may be answered by different call center agents to different customers

  • Drive performance to new levels of reliability, and improve key areas that minimize operating costs, and improve adherence and brand confidence

  • Align operational activities and processes in pursuit of differentiation and value to the customer, as is seen in Blue Ocean thinking

  • Compliment products and services offered today

  • Ensure that performance metrics are fact-based, grounded in solid measurements to allow for insights and actionable results

Whether you’re trying to determine the COPQ in your program or you’ve already decided it’s time to build (or rebuild) your program on a QMS foundation, Archbow can help. Contact us today to get started.

* Source: Success through Quality- First Edition – Timothy J. Clark

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