Stakeholder Collaboration in Support of the Patient

Dr. Detlev Parow, Statutory Health Insurance, DAK-Gesundheit shares insights into how patient support is valued at DAK-G and why stakeholder collaboration is key to delivering next-generation patient support.

The story with patient support programmes at DAK-Gbegins over decade ago, when they began providing a service for patients with chronic conditions who were changing from one care setting to another, “There was an issue with continuity of care, which was being lost when a patient went from a hospital setting to say a home setting,” says Dr. Parow.

DAK-G put in place a system to track these movements of the patient and ensure consistency in the delivery of care. It was also around this time, in 2002, that DAK-Gstarted implementing disease management programmes for certain chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, COPD or asthma. Not only were they one of the first to start doing this, but they managed to implement this on a regional and national level. As Dr. Parow puts it, “DAK-Greally did support patient services from the start.” 

Fast-forward to the present day and DAK-Gare still very much at the forefront of delivering next-generation patient care. Dr. Parow iterates that “it remains a real goal to assist the patient and deliver help to the patient where possible.”

Although it remains too early to share details, Dr. Parow confirms that they have “a few special programmes that they are currently developing for people with chronic conditions.” DAK-Gis currently working closely with external partners for these projects, including pharma, to conceptualise and define what better support could look like. The primary goal is to look for new approaches to help people who are suffering from hard to manage chronic conditions who still need help with adherence.

In the past, when pharma would turn up with a readymade solution for one of their products, the patient solution would not make sense at all from the insurer’s perspective.

Dr. Parow stresses that this development, whereby they are collaborating closely with pharma, presents an important step forward in terms of how patient support programmes are being created and designed. “In the past, pharmaceutical manufacturers & insurance companies were not 'friends', but now it is changing, they are collaborating more and more. Previously selling the product was pharma's goal and of course insurance companies had a different focus. But now there is a change. Pharma now engage to deliver patient support even in areas where they don't even have a product. Of course, in these situations it is much easier to collaborate and discuss how to work together.”

The process of collaborating to produce patient support programmes does slow development down significantly, but this negative should be balanced against the significant positives of engaging and partnering. Dr. Parow explains that “In the past, when pharma would turn up with a readymade solution for one of their products, the patient solution would not make sense at all from the insurer’s perspective. Our needs and our priorities to the patient, as insurers, were not being met by solutions being designed by pharma, whose key goal was to sell their product.” Taking the extra time to collaborate and understand the needs of different stakeholders is proving a credible strategy to build something which actually effective in meeting patient needs.

Dr. Parow also pointed to clear synergies between the knowledge and skill base of pharma and insurers. “Manufacturers obviously possess incredible amounts of medical knowledge of the patients, but there are clear ways in which insurers can bring benefits too.” The closer interaction that insurers have with patients both through their intimate working relationships with physicians and through the resources that they invest in getting feedback from patients, has given significant insight into what patients actually want from support systems. This allows them to help shift the focus on developing these programmes away from 'how this service will help reimbursement' towards 'how do we actually need to structure the delivery of this therapy to meet patient needs'.

Another key benefit which local insurers can offer is their deep knowledge of the workings of regional and national healthcare institutions. Through their long history of working with these institutions they are able to help develop highly nuanced systems which will integrate well with the specific structures which are unique to each geographical region. With their additional experience from implementing programmes of their own, DAK-Galso understand the difficulties involved in scaling these sorts of programmes nationally.

It is clear there are significant benefits to be gained from a collaborative approach to developing patient support solutions, and that this is a strategy which can help pharma achieve the hard-to-reach goal of developing adherence & engagement solutions which actually meet the needs of the patient. Through collaborating healthcare stakeholders can draw on their independent abilities and combine to create something far more effective and far more tailored for patient needs than could have been achieved alone. Dr Parow also notes that “these discussions create a hugely valuable forum for pharma and insurers,” to move beyond product focused support, and start a bigger conversation on how they can work together to deliver value beyond pill. As DAK-G's collaborative projects develop, and a wider audience starts to get insight into some of the innovations being discussed, it seems that we have a lot of exciting things to look forward to.

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