10 Steps Toward an Effective Patient Support Program

Patient Support Programs are playing an increasingly important role in assisting chronically ill patients. The practical and psychological help they provide substantially improves adherence to therapy. The following 10 steps toward a successful Patient Support Program are based on our decades of experience.

1. Identify the disease stage and ramifications for stakeholders

Considering all diseases equally, a patient that begins a PSP immediately following diagnosis will have different needs than a patient who has been living with a chronic illness for years and who might need to adopt a new attitude towards treatment adherence. Thus, the stage of a disease generally defines the role and importance of all stakeholders involved in developing the PSP (ie. network of family and friends, colleagues, health care workers, support services and other care providers).

2. Each patient is unique

A patient journey and its fundamental stages are different for each patient because each patient is unique and must be heard in order to better define both practical and emotional needs. Psychologically, a patient who feels listened to becomes more involved in the program.  Articles such as “10 Steps Toward an Effective Patient Support Program” or something similar are, in fact, useful but detached if they do not identify with the personal experiences of each individual patient.

3. Consider the most effective communication channels

There are many different communication channels in Patient Support Programs- a care provider’s physical presence, messages, emails, educational web sites, chats, online or face-to-face interaction, phone calls, etc. Each patient may prefer different communication channels and, thus, it is extremely important that patients are informed about all the different possibilities in order to choose which suits them best. Domedica offers the majority of communication channels available.

4. Centralize patient records and medical data

It is essential that all medical data relative to a patient is gathered in a single file. It is also important that data from previous years is found and delocalized. Centralizing data makes data analysis more effective for all people involved.

5. Follow the rules

Each country has different rules, protocols, legislation and support standards for diseases. These standards must obviously be abided by and we advise having one or more experts for each country, supported by a team that assures compliance.

6. Integrate IT systems between countries

Historically, patient support programs were developed individually in each country. The new trend is to centralize and standardize in order to better assess effectiveness in each region, each country and across the globe.  It is thus important to develop common IT standards for collecting and analyzing data.

7. Keep stakeholders connected

An effective Patient Support Program does not only put the patient into contact with health care providers, but connects all the other elements involved as well, such as the network of family and friends, psychologists and other professionals. All stakeholders need to be trained in the support program they have created so that they all speak a common language.

8. Regular updates

Every part of the support group that is involved with and built around the patient must display conviction and enthusiasm. Typically, these traits are shown at the beginning of the program, but then fade with time. In order to keep them alive, the bond with the network must be reinforced through feedback, open discussion, individual meetings and data sharing.

9. Consider your real resources

A patient may be offered a Patient Support Program that goes beyond the possibilities of the facilities or people that make up the patient’s support network, or requires more work than the network is able to provide. In such situations, the quality of the PSP would be compromised and, thus, it is better not to create a PSP for patients that do not have the resources suitable for their particular case.

10. Don’t leave anyone out

Marketing staff, programmers, the legal department… everyone must be informed about PSP objectives and the role each individual must play in achieving those goals. Each person must feel active in the life of the patient.

Thanks to these 10 steps toward an effective Patient Support Program, you can add value to the lives of your patients.

© Domedica s.r.l.

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Over 10 years of experience in designing and executing Patient Support Programmes and Support Programmes for Physicians, Clinical Centres and other Constituencies in Health Care.

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