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Case Study: Improving the Patient Experience with Oncology Nurse Advocates

By Lash Group

See how integrating Oncology Nurse Advocates into program design resulted in industry-leading patient satisfaction.

The Challenge

Company A received FDA approval for a blood cancer drug. As part of its pre-launch due diligence, Company A performed extensive research on not only its patient population, but also the needs of caregivers, with the goal of understanding and defining the ideal patient experience in a patient support program. As a result, Company A had a strong desire to build support for caregivers into a comprehensive support program offering.

In addition, this manufacturer felt it was important to provide support to patients in a way that was different from other programs. Instead of traditional reimbursement counselors, Company A wanted to touch patients in a unique way with a program that had a nursing “front.” This presented a challenge for the nurses: they would need to step out of their traditional roles and provide support for patients and caregivers while also explaining benefits. 

The Solution

More than a year before FDA approval, Company A approached Lash Group, part of AmerisourceBergen, to design a support program that would incorporate both caregiver support and oncology nurse advocates. Lash Group leveraged years of program design experience to work through examples of custom program builds. Part of the manufacturer’s vision was for Lash Group to “plug in” Lash Group services and partner with third parties. This was a new approach for Lash Group, and successful execution meant building project plans that considered all stakeholders.

In order to provide emotional and psychosocial support for both caregivers and patients, the program design incorporated a partnership with the Cancer Support Community. CSC provides one-on-one counseling for cancer patients and their families through licensed mental health professionals, and Company A’s oncology nurse advocates were equipped with information and contacts to seamlessly refer patients and their caregivers to CSC’s support line. This partnership allowed Company A to refer patients and caregivers to psychological and emotional support – a service that other programs did not offer.

For the oncology nurse advocates, Lash Group drafted call guides and helped clearly define the role of the nurse in counseling patients and explaining benefits. Rather than having scripted call guides, Company A’s program positioned nurses as rapport builders. This helped the nurses on the front end of the program more easily step into roles that may have otherwise been uncomfortable.
Lash Group also evaluated the aspects of program design and services that would be offered to patients, building in reimbursement and PAP resources as needed. An additional, unique layer of support included co-pay assistance with a non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation that funded transportation to and from doctor visits for patients (including gas and parking costs).

The Results

In a third-party survey* measuring the patient and provider experience with oncology nurse advocates through the Lash Group call center:

  • 92% of patients, providers and caregivers were very satisfied with the oncology nurse advocate they spoke with
  • Among all attributes, the oncology nurse advocates’ knowledge of the patient’s specific issue was the most highly rated (94%)
  • Caller satisfaction results are consistent with industry leaders

Additional Insights

In a world where many manufacturers’ assistance programs are similar, this program demonstrates that a brand can start out strong in the market with a support program that: tailors interaction and service to patient/caregiver needs with a personalized approach; keeps wellness in the foreground and considers relationships with caregivers as essential and includes them in the program; builds relationships with advocacy groups, as patients want these resources.  
*The survey results were a result of an outside organization conducting the survey at the cost of the manufacturer.