Pharmaceutical Representatives: Tips for Building Strong Physician Practice Relations

By Dr. Charles Gold, Optometrist, New York, NY

Doctors Shaking Businessperson Hand

When a pharmaceutical representative enters my office, I expect one thing: that they add value to my practice. Working with a pharmaceutical representative is all about building a relationship. We want to feel that you know our practice and our staff. We want to see that you have something to offer us – beyond free samples. For any pharmaceutical representative looking to better their physician practice approach, here are my top two tips:

Get to know the staff. Too often, pharmaceutical representatives walk into an office and head right for the doctor. The is not the right approach at all! Instead, take some time and get to know the practice staff. Be sure to write down every staff member’s name and maybe even a brief description if it will be helpful for you.

Then, the next time you visit the doctor’s office, review your notes and make a point of using their names in your conversations. This will go a very long way in standing out and making an impression on the people who work very hard – and are often the individuals entering the prior authorizations (PAs) for your prescriptions!

Be helpful and offer advice. This can be as simple as reviewing the office’s website or as detailed as providing a new vendor service to the office.

Consider this: it is becoming more and more difficult to run a practice, and prior authorizations are definitely among the time-consuming challenges we face.  If you offer a value add – such as a prior authorization service vendor – you’re likely to catch the office’s attention. Doctor’s offices are going to favor companies that work with PA service providers like PARx. They’re easier to deal with. They make getting PAs approved easier and quicker. And they help us keep our patients happy!

Plus, by offering a PA service provider, you as a pharmaceutical representative are opening the door to new information. Some of the best reps I see in my office are the ones who come in, say hello to my staff, maybe bring lunch, and check in to see how PAs are progressing in the office. Are they being approved? Which medications are most denied, and what are the common reasons given? By reviewing this information, the reps are able to learn more about our practice, They are able to offer insight and prove their worth to both me and my staff.

Today, in order to be truly successful in establishing a relationship with a physician practice, pharmaceutical representatives must add value!

A Prescription for Meeting the Prior Authorization Challenge

By Dan Rubin, CEO

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In this blog so far, you’ve heard our insights into how to best meet the prior authorization (PA) challenge – we hope you’ve found our posts to be relevant and helpful to your practice. Over the coming months, we’re going to add outside voices to the blog, sharing the experiences of physicians and their practice managers across different therapeutic areas. Whether you’re in an ophthalmology or optometry office, you’re an OB/GYN or a gastroenterologist, or another specialty, PAs are a pain point for which every physician practice can use a prescription!

As a sneak preview to this series, here are some examples of how taking on the PA challenge through partnering with PARx has helped physician practices, in their own words:

“I didn’t use to do a lot of PAs. But now, more of the medications I prescribe require them. I used to be like most doctors I know – if I knew a medication needed a PA I avoided it. The PASS system is good because PARx knows how to expedite the process. With PARx, it is much easier for my practice, and there is no cost – using PARx is a no brainer.” – an OB/GYN in Alabama


“Before we used PARx, we tried a PA service that just provided the forms, meaning that if the PA was denied or there was an issue, we had to call the insurance companies ourselves, which was time consuming and frustrating. I would rather go through gum surgery than do that again! Now, with the PASS system, our patients are getting what the doctor is prescribing more often and in a more reasonable amount of time.” – Practice Manager for an Optometrist in Massachusetts


“In the past, we were in a real bind when the prescription was denied for a medication for which there really was no substitute. Since we started using PARx, we see a lot more approvals, and our patients are really happy when they can get the medication they and the doctor want.  Plus, I and the rest of the practice staff have more time to help the patients in front of us instead of sitting on hold with the insurance company, where we would wait 15-20 minutes just to talk to a live person. On the PASS system, it takes a fraction of that time to enter all the information, and then their people take it from there. So much easier.” – Practice Manager for an Endocrinologist in New York City

Sound familiar? Stay tuned for more stories on how meeting the PA challenge is good for your staff, your patients, and your bottom line.

 

The Year Ahead: What’s On the PARx Horizon

By Dan Rubin, CEO

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“Listen to the voice of the customer.”  It is an age-old business adage and one that the best companies always take to heart.    Over the past several months, we have had discussions with dozens of physicians and their staff to understand how our service can help them save even more time, produce higher PA approval rates, and most importantly help their patients get the therapy that is best suited to treat their conditions.  When customers speak, we listen!

We are excited to announce several enhancements to our PASS system – many created in response to feedback from physician practices utilizing our PASS service –  that we will be rolling out in the first quarter, including:

  • Single-User, Multi-Physician log-in: Group practices will be able to designate PASS users who can submit prior authorizations (PAs) for multiple physicians in the practice under a single log-in.
  • Chart note uploads: Users will be able to upload chart notes directly into the PASS submission, eliminating the need to print and fax these separately.
  • Electronic signatures: Prescribers will be able to register for PASS and electronically sign their HIPAA Business Associate Agreement, enabling them to register and immediately begin to submit PAs.

PARx continues to add new sponsored products to our roster.  For example, we  have added new brands to our already comprehensive list of eye care products covered, and are significantly strengthening our roster of covered products in several other therapeutic areas including diabetes, GI, weight loss, and dermatology to name a few.

PARx is in discussions about partnering with multiple Electronic Medical Records (EMR) providers.  Our goal is to enable registered PASS users to initiate PAs from within their EMR, pre-populating the PA submission with information from the patient record.  For some large group practices, PARx will be fully integrating with their EMR to provide the most efficient and comprehensive PA service in the market today.

We highly value the trust that our users have placed in PARx, and we constantly strive to improve on our market-best PA service.  I would like to personally thank all of our users and wish each of you a happy and healthy holiday season and new year. We look forward to 2017 with enthusiasm!

Getting the Prescribed Medication to the Patient: Prior Auth and the Pull-Through Challenge

By Dan Rubin, CEO

Cooperation conceptIt’s no secret that pharma promotion doesn’t come cheap. Between face-to-face promotional activities, free samples, and educational meetings, pharmaceutical companies spend over $15 billion in marketing to physicians each year. That on top of the $5 billion spend on direct-to-consumer advertising means a hefty investment in generating awareness for their drug. And these numbers do not even account for the money spent when developing new products for treating specific conditions and improving patient lives!

Promoting the drug is only a first step toward product usage and generating sales. The positioning, messaging, audience targeting are critical, but moving from promotion to prescribing to ensuring that the patient actually receives the drug is where pitfalls arise for pharmaceutical companies. All of the sales and marketing spending is for naught without patient  “pull-through” – the actual, successful picking up of a prescription from the pharmacy.

So what can pharmaceutical companies do differently in the coming year to better ensure pull-through? For starters, pharma can begin to more actively address the growing Prior Authorization (PA) challenge.

PAs are a requirement put in place by a patient’s health plan to approve a specific medication before it can be dispensed. Of the 20 most advertised drugs in 2015, almost all require PA across health plans. Often times, PAs are a road block to a successful prescription. They are a headache and resource drain for physician practices, and result in lost sales for pharmaceutical companies.

When reimbursement is denied for a prescription, the patient likely will not receive the drug that their physician originally prescribed. In fact, approximately 70 percent of patients encountering a PA do not receive the originally prescribed medication, and upwards of 40 percent of those patients forego treatment altogether.

Many pharma companies believe that it’s just a matter of putting a PA form in the hands of the practice, but fewer than half of these forms ever get submitted.  A successful pull through strategy not only provides the PA form to the practice but offers a service that increases the likelihood that the form gets completed and submitted to the plan. Implementing an effective and efficient PA service can often overcome the PA challenge and generate real results for pharmaceutical companies. Here’s one of my favorite examples of the impact that a strong pull-through strategy can have: I was recently in touch with a pharmaceutical representative at a major company. She shared that by providing her physician practices with access to the full-service, user-friendly prior authorization support system (PASS) from PARx Solutions, she moved from being her company’s #141 (out of 150) sales rep to their #6!

In another conversation, I connected with a District Manager in a different company whose district is ranked #1 in sales. When inquiring on how she did it, she attributed her success to being the #1 district in the company for PA submissions through PARx PASS.

In 2017, a pull through strategy will be necessary to meet the PA challenge to ensure medications are ultimately dispensed. Successful pull-through strategies must address the hurdles that health plans have put in place, making the process of managing PAs fast and easy for physicians.

Meeting the PA Challenge: A prescription for patients and physicians

Welcome to PASSing Thoughts, a series of expert insights into the prior authorization landscape, from the desk of Dan Rubin, President and CEO of PARx Solutions, the creators of the PARx Prior Authorization Support System (‘PASS’).

At the point of prescription, when physicians are choosing the medication they deem best for their patients, doctor and patient are on the same page. Patients want the treatment that can best address their condition with a successful health outcome and minimal side effects. They are relying on the expertise of their physicians, who are trained to make the clinical decisions as to the best treatments for their patients’ conditions.  Seems to be a simple equation, right?

Unfortunately, there are roadblocks. In many cases, patients end up not being treated with the specific medication that their physician had prescribed.

One of the main reasons for this problem is that managed care plans are putting restrictions in place, often based on economic considerations rather than clinical benefits.  In particular, a growing concern for physician practices is the need for prior authorizations (PA) – the requirement by a patient’s health plan to approve a specific medication for reimbursement, without which, many patients are unable to fill the prescription.

PAs have real impact on patients receiving the medication their physician deems best for their treatment: data suggests only 29% of prescriptions that require PAs are dispensed with the originally prescribed medication, and that only 60% are filled with any medication.

Primary among physician practice concerns regarding the PA process is the sheer volume of time required of practice staff (and sometimes the physicians themselves) to manage the PA process. In addition to completing an initial PA submission, health plans often require additional information or a resubmission of a second form. Then, when trying to contact the health plan directly, practice staff often experience long hold times and poor responsiveness. Many staff find the process to be a complex, frustrating experience and highly disruptive to their workflow.

Physicians utilizing the right PA service end up with more patients receiving the originally prescribed medication for their conditions and less administrative time spent on non-clinical activities in their practices. The “right” PA service is one that goes beyond simply providing a form to the practice. It is one that streamlines the process for the prescriber, provides a standard electronic PA process that eliminates the need to complete specific insurance forms, reviews PA requests prior to submission, follows up with the plan for a timely response, contacts the prescriber when additional information is required, manages appeals if required, and offers access to a call center staffed by responsive and well trained nurses and pharmacy technicians.. And last but not least, it is a service that provides this help and insight at no cost to the physician practice.

When the right PA service is employed, everyone wins: physicians, practice staff, and most importantly, patients.