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Addressing Health Disparities: How Hubs Are Mitigating SDOH Challenges

Addressing Health Disparities: How Hubs Are Mitigating SDOH Challenges

Social determinants like employment, socioeconomic status, education level, food security, and an individual’s support system are known to contribute to health disparities across the global patient population. When it comes to treating disease, these factors directly affect the likelihood that a patient will start, adhere to, and stay on a prescribed therapy—all of which can influence health outcomes. The more complex the therapy, the greater the potential impact. 

As private industry and governments place greater emphasis on eliminating health disparities and improving health equity, the need to address SDOH is becoming a higher priority and a significant area of focus. So, it’s not surprising that SDOH is increasingly on the minds of pharmaceutical manufacturers, as captured in results from the 2024 Patient Services Survey. This annual survey delves into the evolving needs, challenges, and priorities of leading pharmaceutical manufacturers as they navigate a dynamic market.   

For more detailed survey results and analysis, download the 2024 Patient Services Report: Revealing Manufacturer Priorities: Patients Naturally Take Center Stage 

Interestingly, SDOH did not stand out as a key concern in past patient services surveys. In 2024 however, it emerged as a leading trend that manufacturers expect will have significant impact on the future of patient services delivery. This year, 71% of respondents said they believe SDOH will have a high or medium impact on patient services over an 18-month horizon. With value-based performance contracts on the rise—creating more pressure to improve drug efficacy and outcomes—SDOH will likely command an even greater share of mind for manufacturers over time. 

How Social Determinants Can Influence Treatment 

A patient’s medication-taking behavior greatly influences a drug’s efficacy, and that behavior is impacted by a variety of social determinants. For example: 

  • If a patient believes their health condition isn’t serious or is opposed to taking medications generally, they might not initiate therapy. 
  • If a patient doesn’t have access to reliable transportation, they might not be able to pick up refills or attend in-person appointments such as office-administered infusions. 
  • If a patient is struggling financially, they might not be able to afford the drug’s out-of-pocket costs and could decide to forego filling the script. 

With inflation and interest rates remaining elevated compared to the past decade—and copay accumulators and maximizers becoming more common—it’s expected that financial issues will continue to play a central role in patient medication-taking behavior. 

How Can Hub Technology Help Patients Overcome SDOH Obstacles? 

When manufacturers evaluate a hub partner, they often prioritize the services that can improve drug access and affordability. As important as these traditional offerings are in a drug’s adoption and commercial success, survey results suggest they’re no longer the primary criteria.  

Results from the 2024 Patient Services Survey illustrate that hubs are expected to understand the dynamics of SDOH and their impact on drug initiation, adherence, and persistence. Manufacturers believe their hubs should have the capabilities to identify and address each patient’s unique treatment barriers along their care journey, including any social determinants that could stand in the way of the patient starting and staying on therapy. 

Want to learn which factors rank highest in selecting the best-fit Hub to drive a drug program’s success?  Download the 2024 Patient Services Report for these and other insights. 

Technology and data analytics play an increasingly vital role in a hub’s ability to address SDOH-related challenges and support medication-taking behavior that improves health outcomes. A best-of-breed patient services program will leverage technology and data to assess each patient’s treatment barriers objectively, segment patients accordingly, and customize their journey with multichannel touchpoints designed to combat treatment obstacles.  

When a manufacturer implements a hub-powered patient services program, they need confidence that the vendor will apply best practices proven to address SDOH and other treatment barriers. The following measures provide a good starting point for designing and implementing an effective patient services program. 

  • Offer patients multiple channels for enrolling in the program, which is a key driver of medication initiation. Self-service options are especially appealing. 
  • Make data-driven decisions about which content and resources to provide to each patient at key touchpoints, including information that fosters healthy habits. 
  • Ensure all materials are written to a health literacy level that is understandable for a broad, diverse patient population. 
  • Keep the program dynamic, adapting the resources and other support provided as a patient’s treatment barriers evolve over time. 
  • Make sure healthcare providers are well-informed about the status of their patients enrolled in the program, so they can support and complement the program’s efforts to address social determinants and other treatment barriers.          

The 2024 Patient Services Report takes a closer look at the impact of SDOH and provides more best practices for designing and executing a patient services program that helps patients overcome these obstacles. The report also provides insights into the top trends impacting patient services, what manufacturers seek in a patient-centric hub, and how digital technology and AI are shaping the future of patient services. 

Download the report for a more detailed look at the state of the patient services landscape.  

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