Collaborative Solutions to Help Patients Navigate Access to Complex Specialty Treatments

Barriers to treatment can be an uphill battle for patients with cancer; however, one company is here to help.
BY Kristie L. Kahl
PUBLISHED March 27, 2019
Barriers to treatment can be an uphill battle for patients with cancer; however, one company is here to help.

Asembia collaborates with specialty pharmacies, pharma/biotech manufacturers, prescribers, payers and other stakeholders to develop solutions for the specialty pharmaceutical service model. CURE spoke with the group’s senior director of clinical patient support operations and compliance, Greg Leighton, RPh, about the patient journey and role that Asembia’s patient support/hub services play.

CURE: To give our patient audience some background, can you briefly describe what Asembia does and its mission?
Leighton: Asembia is in the specialty pharmacy space, but our end goal is to help patients with either specialty, rare or orphan diseases, or on the other side of it, patients needing a high-cost medication, by trying to get them access to these drugs at prices they can afford and to do so in a streamlined process and provide coordinated care.

With that, the organization offers support hubs, what is the goal of these?
Ultimately the goal of the hubs is to get patients access to these drugs. When a patient goes to see their doctor and their doctor deems that one of these products is important and necessary for their treatment – unfortunately, patients sometimes suffer from rare oncolytic diseases – Asembia finds ways to get access to the drugs. Can they afford them? What is the process like? What counseling point do they need? Are there complications associated with this therapy? Asembia focuses on all of these aspects of patient care so that we can make it simple for the patient and to get them access to the medication they need. Oftentimes, these drugs are not covered or are expensive, so as a patient support center (or hub) we help the patient along that journey to get them access at a price that they can afford.

What specific services are available?
Some of our services are helping to navigate insurance, and see what coverage is like for patients. How does the patient gain access from start to finish? Some of our services include verifying benefits with the insurance company; explaining what the copayment process is like; if the prescription is not covered, outlining what patients can expect to experience and giving them options and information about how to get them the medication. Our services also include talking with them about how they prefer to receive medication: Is home delivery preferred?; Is their local pharmacy an option; How does the patient want to get the product? (as long as it is not limited distribution). Asembia also provides ancillary services – adherence monitoring, following up with patients to see how they are doing, clinical consultations, and outreach to see if patients need additional information. In some programs in the oncology space, we do ancillary services aimed at helping the caregiver as well, not just the patient. We also look at areas of whether the patient needs other assistance services. For example, what happens if they can’t schedule (an appointment), can’t find a hotel or pet care, or locate an injection site provider. All of the different complexities and touch points are included in Asembia’s services and we try to help patients navigate challenges and gain access.

Why do you think these are vital for patients to learn more about specialty pharmaceuticals?
Especially in oncology, the disease state is very complex. Not only does the patient need to navigate lifestyle changes; going to chemotherapy regimens, understanding the disease and what impact it has on their life, navigating their own family members and care providers, etc. These patients also face coverage challenges, and barriers to access. From a patient experience and journey perspective, Asembia wants to be able to alleviate some of those burdens for the patient. We want them to focus on getting better, not spending their valuable time having to negotiate and worrying they can’t afford (the drugs). Helping those patients is our primary mission.

What are you hoping the key thing is that patients are taking away from these services?
We hope the key understand patients are gaining, is that that they know these patient support services are part of the overall treatment and are designed to help them get better. We want patients to know that Asembia’s services are designed to help support them and give them the tools they need to both get their medication and ensure that their treatment is effective. Our objective is to make sure patients fully understand how to take the medication and how to get access to it and that they get better.

Is there anything we haven’t touched upon that our patients should know more about?
From a patient or caregiver perspective, it is essential to understand how important it is to know and understand the value of being inquisitive and doing your research. Asembia patient support services are here to help with that task. Our objective is to get the patient the drug that the doctor prescribed in a manner that they can afford. Our ultimate goal is to help them get better. 

For more information, visit asembia.com.
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