The Need for a PSP

Everyone can use a little support these days!

Did you know most people expect healthcare services to be as relevant as: 

But, reality doesn’t always meet their expectations.

Case in point

You go to your local drugstore and walk out with a new blow dryer and your filled prescription for your newly diagnosed condition. Here are the instructions you received: 

We all know the huge impact non-adherence has on patient outcomes (see data below). Which approach do you think would drive behavior change?  Communications designed based the unique needs of the target and provides the right support at the right time – or the above?

We all know the impact of non-adherence:

  • In the United States, some 3.8 billion prescriptions are written every year,2 yet over 50% of them are taken incorrectly or non at all.2
  • In a survey of 1000 patients, nearly 75% admitted to not always taking their medications as directed.3
  • A study of over 75,000 commercially insured patients found that 30% failed to fill a new prescription, and new prescriptions for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol were not filled 20%-22% of the time.4
  • Even among chronically ill patients who regularly fill their prescriptions, only about half the doses taken are taken as their physicians intend.5

Bottom line…Non-adherence is associated with higher rates of hospital admissions, suboptimal health outcomes, increased morbidity and mortality, and increased health care costs. 6

It’s no surprise patients (and HCPs) are hungry for support materials.  According to a PM360 2017 survey, patients find value in the services provided more than 75% of the time.

A recent Phreesia survey reported that though not many patients see value in support programs, they do want support.  From financial and disease information to emotional support. 

And not everyone may be a joiner and enroll in a program.  But everyone has unmet needs and our role is to provide the multiple points of access to information to drive optimal outcomes.

What Support Patients Want

Source: Phreesia |Industry Perspectives: Expanding Awareness of Patient Support Programs July, 2021

HCPs Want Patient Support Information Too

82% of HCPs say they have seen pharma companies change what they communicate about during the COVID-19 pandemic, delivering not just product information, but support that meets their most pressing needs.

Source: Accenture Survey: Reinventing Relevance 10/20

Support Programs Are Proven To Work!

According to the government’s 2016 National Center for Biotechnology Information study, patient support programs positively impact:

  • Clinical Outcomes
  • Adherence outcome
  • Humanistic outcomes
  • (eg, quality of life, functional status)
  • Economic outcome


And their findings suggest that non-HCP entities (meaning pharma companies, PBMs, etc.) may play an increasingly important role in developing and implementing these programs.

Source:  The impact of patient support programs on adherence, clinical, humanistic, and economic patient outcomes: a targeted systematic review Published online 2016 Apr 28.

Q: So why do we need ongoing support programs?

ABecause patient adherence barriers are variable and change over time. What was an issue today, may not be an issue tomorrow, and visa versa.

To Impact Outcomes, We Need To Address The 5 Interacting Dimensions Of Adherence


  • Low socioeconomic status may put patients in the position of having to choose between competing priorities.


Health care team and system-related

  • Inadequate reimbursement by health insurance plans, poor medication distribution systems, lack of knowledge and training for health care providers, overworked health care providers, lack of incentives and feedback on performance, short consultations, weak capacity of the system to educate patients and provide follow-up, lack of knowledge on adherence and effective interventions.



  • Strong determinants of adherence are those related to the severity of symptoms, level of disability (physical, psychological, social and vocational), rate of progression and severity of the disease, and the availability of effective treatments.



  • Complexity of the medical regimen, duration of treatment, previous treatment failures, frequent changes in treatment, the immediacy of beneficial effects, side effects, and the availability of medical support to deal with them.



  • Represent the resources, knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and expectations of the patient.

Where to Begin…

  • Start with listening to your patient
  • Identify the barriers and needs along the patient journey
  • Develop a behavioral approach specific to the identified barriers
  • Create and design support around the needs
  • Keep listening for ongoing optimization

1 Cutler DM, Everett W. Thinking outside the pillbox – medication adherence as a priority for health care reform. N Engl J Med. 2010,362:1553-1555.

2 Cutler DM, Everett W. Thinking outside the pillbox—medication adherence as a priority for health care reform. N Engl J Med 2010;362:1553–5.

3 “Take as Directed: A Prescription Not Followed,” Research conducted by The Polling Company. National Community Pharmacists Association December 16, 2006.

4 Fischer MA, Stedman MR, Lii J, et al. Primary medication non-adherence: analysis of 195,930 electronic prescriptions. J Gen Intern Med. 20 10;25:284-290. 

5 Peterson Am, Takiya L, Finley R. Meta-analysis of trails of interventions to improve medication adherence. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2003;60:657-665.

6 DiMatteo MR. Variations in patients’ adherence to medical recommendations: a quantitative review of 50 years of research. Med Care 2004;42:200–9.