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  • Joshua Burns

The Smart Way to Approach Pharmaceutical Reimbursement HUB Innovation

Ongoing changes in the pharmaceutical landscape often lead to evolving patient support needs. A wave of orphan drugs, targeted immunotherapies, and cell and gene therapies has introduced new reimbursement and access challenges to the marketplace.

Manufacturer-provided patient support HUBs are innovating rapidly to replace traditional service offerings that aren't sophisticated enough to support these ultra-complex products. Services like distribution coordination, clinical training, and escalated case management grow significantly with each new launch.

Manufacturers recognize they need to innovate but can often be overwhelmed with the task. Sometimes, they inadvertently end up innovating in counterproductive ways by creating rework or waste within a process.

What's the smart way to innovate so that your organization's changes will be both effective for your brand and improve the experience for your patients and prescribers?

Joshua shares smart approaches to pharmaceutical HUB innovation
Joshua Burns, Archbow Consulting

We asked new Archbow team member, Joshua Burns, to share his expertise on how to effectively balance the desire to innovate with the need to deliver a patient support HUB that is successful at initiating and maintaining therapy. Joshua has extensive pharmaceutical patient support program management experience, leading large reimbursement, patient assistance (PAP), and copay programs for many years before joining Archbow. Learn more about Joshua here.

Pharmaceutical Patient Support HUB Innovation Considerations

Innovation. This one word is powerful, catches attention, and excites people. However, the word innovation should be more than a buzzword; in the world of patient support HUBs, innovations should equal ease and effectiveness of medication access. When our clients begin searching for the next most innovative HUB feature, we encourage them to ask their teams the following questions:

1. What type of innovation are we seeking to accomplish? There are four primary types of innovation: Sustaining, Breakthrough/Radical, Disruptive, and Incremental/Basic. As Greg Satell says in the Harvard Business Review, "Innovation is, at its core, about solving problems." Which problem does your innovation aim to solve, and what's the best way to solve it?

Real-world examples of patient support innovation might include*:

sustaining, disruptive, incremental, radical innovation
  • Sustaining: Integrating a better suite of eServices in a program that allows for digitization of real-time data to prescribers

  • Disruptive: Providing companion diagnostic, at-home services, or rideshare coordination

  • Radical: Development of a customizable, flexible single platform-based approach for all stakeholders – patients, providers, and manufacturers – that manages reimbursement, affordability, adherence, and end-to-end coordination as a single source of truth

  • Incremental: Continual improvements to the program CRM and user experience (both internal and external)

2. Who are the players?

What key stakeholders need to be involved when considering the type of innovation you seek to accomplish? This could be simple if you are looking at incremental or sustaining innovation and may just involve the internal HUB decision-makers. But if you want to achieve breakthrough or disruptive innovation, it can be more complicated. When aiming for breakthrough or disruptive innovation, more key stakeholders will need to be involved: legal & compliance, C-level executives, IT, R&D, managers, etc. When seeking this level of innovation, there may be several "owners" of the process. In the 2018 Benchmarking Innovation Report conducted by Innovation Leader, it was reported by over 55% of executives that politics, turf wars, and lack of alignment were the most significant barriers to innovation.

3. Have we considered all aspects of risk involved?

Whenever considering any level of innovation, there is risk involved that must be considered in addition to the standard risks of building and operationalizing a patient support HUB. To prepare, your team should align on the following:

  1. Does our organization have the risk appetite necessary for the innovation? Think of budget and bandwidth here.

  2. Have we considered the current risk management effectiveness and success of our organization? What is the current R&D approach, and are you familiar with it? Does this align with your goals?

  3. Are leaders/managers structured to thrive in a culture that encourages innovative thinking? Staff at all levels need to have some level of anonymity to make mistakes and know that not all ideas will have success but won't be of detriment to them.

4. Does our plan meet the need of the patients and HCPs that we serve?

Being innovative can be great, but only when it's well-focused. Ensure your team understands how your innovation will improve your overall Patient Support service offering by making access to therapy faster or easier.

The Archbow team approaches every project as a unique partnership, looking beyond the traditional suite of services to deliver enduring solutions at every stage of your product's lifecycle. Archbow is excited to help you determine what innovation looks like for your organization and partner with you along the journey. Contact us today to get started.

Click here to read our latest patient services whitepaper, Six Strategies for Optimizing Cross-Functional Collaboration Between Compliance and Access.


Archbow Consulting helps pharma and biotech companies design, build, and optimize product distribution and patient access strategies. Archbow was founded by industry veterans to meet a need in the marketplace for consulting options that offer diverse real-world experience, are able to leverage deep connections across the industry, and can also provide actionable strategic guidance. We invite you to learn more about our team, services, and clients’ success, and connect with us via email, LinkedIn, Twitter or subscribing to this blog which you can do below.

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