How to Launch a Patient Support Program

By Todd Wells |

Todd Wells, Vice President of Operations Excellence at Lash Group, shares the key ingredients of a successful patient support program launch.

Executive Q&A

Are You Launch-Ready?

Patient support programs are critical commercialization services that get your novel therapy in the hands of patients who need it. Because of that, launching a patient support program is an important part of your product launch. With the right mix of strategic planning, collaboration and adaptability, you can launch a world-class program. Todd Wells, Vice President of Operations Excellence at Lash Group, shares the key components of a successful program launch.
Q: What makes a patient support program launch stand out from the pack?

Todd Wells: Launching a new program is never easy. It can present a number of unique challenges, some you may anticipate and some you may not. But the biggest differentiator between success and failure is preparation from the get-go. You need tempered patience to build a sound framework that will weather the changing market conditions.

Nimbleness matters too, because things will inevitably evolve. Manufacturers who can adapt in real time will find themselves more equipped to handle change. You also need an appetite for bold, new ideas—those that disrupt conventional thinking and set your program up to make a lasting impact on issues like medication access and adherence. And of course, manufacturers need a patient support partner that is not only purpose-driven to overcome access and adherence barriers, but also one that has experience and expertise in supporting successful launches.

Our clients have seen again and again that the right mix of these traits helps them enjoy better and lasting success once their program launches.

Q: How do you ensure that best practices and lessons learned can be applied to new program launches?

TW: Lash Group's Launch Center of Excellence (LCOE) is an amalgamation of the experience and insights we've gleaned over years spent launching patient support programs for our clients. In that time, we've built a repository of best practices, toolsets and action plans—so the LCOE is our way of consolidating those lessons learned into a standardized but configurable framework. It rallies all stakeholders around a common methodology and language to give their program the best chance of success.

Q: How does the LCOE work?

TW: We approach every program launch with a proven process inspired by industry best practices. Each phase is unique, with defined steps and tools to carry the program through every milestone and checkpoint:

  • Assess: Kickoff sessions and planning documents
  • Design: Program design workshopping, workflow documentation and staffing
  • Implement: System readiness, legal checkpoints, training and rigorous testing
  • Launch: Program launch and ongoing review

Of course, just because the process is standardized doesn't mean it's cookie cutter. We fully adapt each phase based on the specific needs of our clients. In fact, as clients continue to get excited about our technology ecosystem, Fusion, and add more capabilities to their program, we've seen our framework evolve and expand into multiple phases. Luckily, because the LCOE methodology is so strong, it's built for more complexity.

Q: Who are the people behind the LCOE?

TW: Launches are remarkably dynamic and require a high level of energy, so we hire cross-functional experts. Our roster includes operations staff, project managers, business analysts, information technologists, data integration experts, analytics personnel and more.

Though all roles are critical, project management is the heart and soul of the LCOE—and we have fantastic program managers. They ensure everyone understands their role in the process and how their dependencies impact the program downstream. From keeping things on track to removing roadblocks, they see every project through every juncture.

More broadly, we see the LCOE team as a pipeline for developing future leaders at Lash Group. Because it's such a great learning environment to gain exposure to big-picture concepts in commercial manufacturing, it helps leaders expand their strategic chops while navigating unique variables along the way.

Q: How can leaders of patient support programs more nimbly navigate change?

TW: We operate in a dynamic healthcare market. Our robust standardized toolset and project management oversight helps our LCOE navigate changes better and faster than others in the industry. Early on, we collaborate with partners to craft a comprehensive change management plan that assesses impact, predicts problems and provides multiple-solution, rapid-response scenarios.

That said, you can't anticipate everything. Our teams understand that they should expect the unexpected with every new launch—and having that mindset going in helps us build resilience and resolve when we need to shift something midstream.

Q: What would you tell manufacturers as they start their patient support program journey?

TW: Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. World-class patient support programs don't take place in a vacuum, so entertain new ideas, communicate and trust the process. The time and effort you invest in preparation will pay dividends on launch day.

And if you're a Lash Group client, get ready for an exciting and engaging 120 days of launch planning! We rely on our clients' expertise, because a good partnership depends on engagement from both sides. We're in this together, so enjoy the journey.

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About the Author

Todd Wells

Vice President, Operations Excellence
Lash Group
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