Tiffany Burt
President and Chief Operating Officer
Optime Care

Imagine you’ve just been diagnosed with a disease so rare, only a handful of patients have it. Few physicians are aware of the condition, much less have any direct experience treating it. You’ve been prescribed a new medication, and you’re anxious. You have questions, and your only way to answer them is to call an 800 number. There, you’re transferred time and again until (hopefully) you find someone who can help. The next time you call, you start all over again. You’re already dealing with the stress of your diagnosis—and now, you realize that the stress will only get worse as you start treatment.

This is the experience that awaits far too many rare and orphan disease patients as they engage with the traditional patient services model. Built for large patient populations, it doesn’t have the flexibility to provide the individual care that patients with rare and orphan diseases need. Instead of finding comfort, patients can feel isolated and frustrated.

The patient-first model solves this problem by understanding that patient needs must take priority over all else. Acting on this fundamental truth and providing white-glove service not only benefits patients, but also providers and manufacturers as well. It’s a classic win-win-win.

A Win for Patients

Patients with rare and orphan diseases can become lost in the healthcare system for many, many years, moving from one physician to the next as they seek the proper diagnosis. Placing them in a traditional patient services model runs the risk of losing them in yet another system.

When patients are the center of the care model, their individual needs are more readily recognized and met. A perfect example is how our Optime Care’s patient care coordinators proactively ask if the patient would like to speak to a pharmacist. That can make all the difference to a patient who’s anxious but may be reluctant to ask for help. Our pharmacists are trained specifically on the particular disease and medication, so they can walk patients through what to expect. The result can be more satisfied, compliant patients with better outcomes.

A win for manufacturers

When the patient population is in the hundreds—or even less—every patient matters all the time. From a commercialization standpoint, the manufacturer can’t afford to lose a single one.

The patient-first model addresses the challenge by providing a team of patient care coordinators dedicated exclusively to the brand, the therapy and its patients. With deep knowledge of the rare or orphan disease—and how to support patients with it—the Optime Care team develops the most effective patient care plan to support commercial success. Then the team tailors care for the individual needs of each patient. The personal attention helps ensure patients remain compliant even when there are roadblocks, such as side effects that could otherwise encourage patients to drop off.

For manufacturers, there are other benefits of having a dedicated care team as well, such as getting patients on the medication faster by streamlining the prior authorization approval process.

A win for healthcare providers

I mentioned earlier that many healthcare providers may have never had first-hand experience diagnosing a particular rare or orphan disease. With the patient-first model, the dedicated care team can help close the knowledge gap, so the physician can make more informed decisions.

In addition, the care team supports the physician’s office staff by helping to relieve the administrative burden of prior authorizations, appeals and other tasks. This support helps ensure patients can start the therapy as quickly as possible—and keep them compliant—to support the physician’s care plan for achieving quality outcomes.

As I said, the patient-first model is a classic win-win-win, with patients at the heart of every conversation. Many patients have said to us, “I wish you could provide all my medications.” To us, that is the greatest validation that the patient-first model works best for those with rare and orphan diseases.