This article was originally published on the Drug Channels Institute site as a guest blog post.
Launching a hub—whether it is a new program or a transition from another partner—is no easy task. Customer expectations, brand strategic imperatives, target dates, defined budgets and more must be carefully considered. As rules around specialty medications grow increasingly complex, a brand focused on patient-centered access and affordability solutions wants a hub to launch with as much of a complete toolkit as possible. No one wants to go to market with a life-changing medication and then get hit with a reputation that it’s “hard to get.” And when it comes to launching a hub, a strategic discovery process is at the top of the funnel.
No one wants to go to market with a life-changing medication and then get hit with a reputation that it’s “hard to get.”
In my previous access and patient support roles at biotech companies, I had the opportunity to lead multiple hub transitions and launches. The dreaded question I was most often asked by my hub partners was “So…what do you want?” While I appreciated the nod to the power of being a client, believing that I had to control the narrative without strategic input from our partners about goals, approach and process reduced my confidence and opened the launches to multiple opportunities for failure in the absence of standards, guidance and strategy.
My roots in the brand side of patient support shed light on the unparalleled value of having a partner fully explore our needs and then firmly guide the launch process. I’ve seen the way hubs can break through hurdles for patients trying to access medicine and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to support the inception of critically needed hubs in many specialties and therapeutic areas.
Every brand-partner relationship must kick off with a discovery process that asks insightful questions and seeks to understand overall strategic goals versus simply being note takers and task masters. This investigative discovery and knowledge transfer is the early foundation for success and a brand’s commitment to getting the right stakeholders engaged in this process is a barometer of their interest in the smooth, on-time launch of a hub that meets their unique outcome goals. The hub partner should be controlling the narrative around discovery and leading all the design sessions, which alleviates any burden on the brand team to feel like they have to drive the process.
The hub partner should be controlling the narrative around discovery and leading all the design sessions, which alleviates any burden on the brand team to feel like they have to drive the process.
I recently spoke with a client’s senior director of patient services, who explained the qualifications he saw as must-haves in a strong partner: Deep industry knowledge that allows them to make valuable recommendations and ask the right questions to consider the most important use cases; a well-rounded understanding of interdependent systems and processes; and the ability to embrace collaboration with other third parties to collectively problem-solve.
When a hub partner is consultative and strategic, you should expect them to ask all the questions. Baseline metrics are important but standard. The ultimate goal should be to identify what the brand really needs to understand and which questions to answer in order to design the best possible solution while being mindful of budget, time to launch and the overall patient and provider experience.
Another client, a senior director of payer marketing and patient services, shared that a consultative launch excellence process proved valuable in laying out a clear road forward to accomplish launch goals and also in having a partner with the insight to make suggestions around launch strategy by digging into the business and treating it as their own.
A cautionary tale: As a rule, the complexity of hub development is often underestimated. The fundamental services may be straightforward but linking unique patient and provider journeys with commercial strategies and objectives takes finesse because as they say, the devil is in the details. All this information is uncovered through honest, transparent conversations between the brand and the hub partner that build credibility and trust—and is the only clear path to a desired result.
To learn more about how this consultative and strategic layer enhances hub launch experiences, join us on April 4th at 1 pm ET for a free online panel discussion: Lessons from the Edge—Six Things That Can Make a Hub Launch Go Wrong or get on-demand access by registering.