Introduced 20-some years ago, hub service suppliers are meant to make it easier for providers and patients to access and use critical pharmaceutical and biotech therapies. However, even with multimillion-dollar contracts at stake to provide a range of services focused on access, affordability, and adherence, many of today’s hub suppliers miss the mark.
From benefit verification delays to unsubmitted prior authorization forms, unfilled orders, unmade calls to initiate therapy, and more, manufacturers increasingly find themselves scrambling to mitigate service risks and find better vendors. What’s going wrong? And, more importantly, what can manufacturers do to put reliable hub service partnerships into place?
Evolution of Hub Services
Originally, hub services focused on facilitating reimbursement, and over time expanded opportunistically to include adherence, financial assistance, patient assistance, and data aggregation, among other services. Nowadays, a variety of “one-stop-shop” hub service vendors handle everything from distributing products through servicing providers and patients. Frankly, some of these vendors have grown too fast or focused more on growth than on execution. So, while these vendors sell a “one-stop-shop” efficiency and immediate cost-savings to manufacturers, they often fail to holistically deliver on their promise. As a result of their broad approach, and based on experience, often program design, performance, and quality lack the necessary elemental foundations for success, which is the root cause of dissatisfaction among manufacturers (and in turn their customers and patients).
Meanwhile, boutique hub service vendors that specialize in one area, such as financial assistance or adherence services, are gaining some ground. Some of these specialized service providers tend to deliver better quality overall than their “big box” hub competitors. However, they tend to add cost and management complexity since manufacturers must contract additional specialists, while striving to provide a consistent customer experience.
Despite their inherent advantages or disadvantages, hub service model can—and often does—falter without strong program design, performance, and quality. By design, a hub service program should facilitate patient access to therapies with services targeted to support the product journey and coordination with both providers and payers. Likewise, by design, a strong program will help patients learn about and receive the care they need. They also will ease the related stress and systemic barriers to help ensure the smoothest patient experience possible, fully considering issues of access, affordability, and adherence that must be overcome in the process.