Summer 2020
Dear colleague,

Just as the pandemic began to surge, Wanda's husband received a cancer diagnosis. The news devastated their family, especially as Wanda had just started treatment for pulmonary hypertension.

Stay-at-home orders soon complicated matters by limiting the day-to-day help of friends and loved ones. That's when Wanda applied for a grant through PAN's COVID-19 Financial Support Fund.

After using her grant to purchase essential household items, Wanda sent me a note to say, "Your assistance has been a great help. The past three months have been a major struggle. On the bright side, I still have my companion with me, and your support makes it easy to stay positive."

Wanda's story, and others like it, have inspired us to think more broadly about patient assistance. We want patients like Wanda to feel empowered and independent, no matter what circumstances they're navigating.

As we look toward the rest of the year, the PAN team is excited to unveil new initiatives that extend beyond co-pay assistance. Read the newsletter below to learn about a more flexible transportation program launching this fall. 
 
In the final weeks of summer, I hope you plan to set aside time for self-care and relaxation. You've devoted your life to helping others, and I want to remind you that you are deserving of the same care you provide to patients. 


Kind regards,
Ayesha Azam
Vice President of Medical Affairs
Poll: Needs beyond co-pay assistance 
Which of the following services do your patients need most?
Affordable in-home caregivers
Emotional and peer support
Food assistance
Housing and utility assistance
Insurance navigation and optimization
Mental health support
Maximize your patient's grants: Disease Fund Wait List FAQs
Our pharmacy FAQs now include resources to help you understand our Disease Fund Wait List. Bookmark the page for easy access to everything you need to know about adding patients to the wait list and applying once funds are available!
A note from Joan
Medication non-adherence costs the healthcare system between $100-289 billion annually. One of the major contributing factors is high out-of-pocket costs.

As pharmacists, we see firsthand the undeniable impact of high out-of-pocket costs. In PAN's latest issue brief, we explain how cost-sharing affects medication adherence and disease management as well as the consequences of non-adherence.

Pharmacies are often a patient's access point to their medications. That's why pharmacy teams must stay informed on the barriers that patients face, and the cost-cutting measures they may take to make their prescriptions last longer.

As a pharmacist myself, I like to stay updated on policy efforts to support patients who may be economically vulnerable. I find PAN's position statements and issue briefs to be insightful resources for those of us who are passionate about creating meaningful policy changes to benefit our patients.

I encourage you to explore all of our issue briefs to learn more about strategies that can help address the out-of-pocket burden for Medicare beneficiaries.

We value and support the indispensable (pun not intended!) relationship between you and your patients. If we can do anything to assist your team better, don't hesitate to email me directly at jzhang@panfoundation.org.


Best regards,

Joan Zhang, PharmD
Manager of Medical Affairs
PAN grants address food insecurity during COVID-19 
In April, we began offering direct financial aid to patients affected by COVID-19. So far, we've provided $1 million in assistance to over 3,350 patients to cover costs associated with treating and preventing coronavirus, including medication, food, and transportation.

We're tracking grant utilization to identify the largest area of need and have observed that over 75% of grant spending went toward groceries. Unfortunately, this tells us that those most affected by COVID-19 are struggling to afford even the most basic of essentials.

Our team is hard at work to secure support for this fund, and we hope to open it again soon. In the meantime, if you have patients in need of extra help, please refer to our COVID-19 Financial Resource Directory, where we list programs from organizations offering relief during the pandemic.
Growing our patient support network  
Recently, we added two incredible organizations to our network of alliance partners. We encourage you to share their resources with patients or providers involved with the amyloidosis or Cushing's community.

The Amyloidosis Foundation is the world's leading community for people with amyloidosis, their loved ones, and those who are working to find a cure.

The Cushing's Support and Research Foundation was founded in 1995 to provide information and support to Cushing's patients and their families.
Claims Corner: Resources from our webinar
In July, our team hosted a claims webinar to help pharmacy teams master the claims process. If you missed the event, check out the materials below to get up to speed.


Portal Pros: Key information at a glance 
Have you noticed the tips and announcements on our pharmacy portal login page?

In the tips section, we've included helpful information at a glance, including our BIN, PCN, and Group Number for processing claims as well as additional information on billing PAN and submitting claims adjustments.

In the announcements section, we provide real-time updates when PAN funds open in wait-list status or open to the public.
New medications covered
We've added several medications to our assistance programs in the last few months.

Coming soon: Flexible transportation assistance
This fall, PAN will launch a new transportation assistance program for Medicare beneficiaries, open to patients currently enrolled in a co-pay or premium grant at PAN. Eligible patients will receive a prepaid debit card to subsidize multiple types of non-emergency medical transport, including rideshares and taxis.
As we anticipate the upcoming launch, we'd like to share some of the data that inspired us to develop a broader transportation program. In 2019, we surveyed 4,460 patients about transportation barriers and discovered a need for more inclusive assistance. Here's some of what we learned:

Many patients are mobile, yet still rely on others for travel assistance to the doctor's office. Most respondents (61 percent) relied on family members, friends, or caregivers for help, showing that there is a need to provide patients with independence and the ability to be more mobile.
In launching a new program, we hope to empower patients with the ability to plan and secure transportation. Without having to rely on another person's schedule and availability, patients will be more likely to receive timely treatment and avoid unnecessary stress.
Meaningful victories at Northern Maine Medical Center
We recently spoke with Crystal Condo, the sole Patient Financial Advocate at Northern Maine Medical Center. In just two years, Crystal singlehandedly increased the number of patients served from 10 per year to over 150 per year.

Despite this immense responsibility, Crystal tells us her patients make it all worthwhile. In our discussion, Crystal shares how her firsthand experience with high healthcare costs inspires her work, and what has brought her joy during COVID-19.

What is most rewarding about your job as a patient financial advocate?
The most rewarding part of my job is helping patients find ways to pay for their treatments. I tell patients to let me worry about the financial piece so that they can focus on getting better.

What is unique about your team at Northern Maine Medical Center?
I ended up in congestive heart failure because I couldn't afford my medications, so I know firsthand how my patients feel. I have been in their shoes, and that motivates me to do whatever I can to help them afford their medications.

We want to spotlight healthcare heroes! 
Your efforts inspire all of us at PAN, and we'd like to hear about your experiences during COVID-19. How has your work been impacted? What do your patients need? Can you share any words of encouragement?

Send a note to comms@panfoundation.org to tell us as much as you’d like. We’d be honored to know more and share your story with our community.
One the line with Donna: Meet PAN’s program representatives
Meet Donna, one of our patient assistance specialists who understands the financial hardships that may come with a diagnosis and is on the line, ready to offer caring and compassionate service.

In this interview, Donna shares a little about herself and how a heartbreaking call ended up raising her spirits.

What's your favorite part of your job?
I've heard from many patients that the medication they need to survive is unaffordable. Just knowing that I am helping save a life is very fulfilling.
 
What's been your most memorable phone conversation with a patient?
A patient called to apply for a grant for his asthma treatment and shared with me that he recently lost both parents to COVID-19. At the time, he was still waiting for his test results. While talking with him, he lifted my spirits by telling me that he was not sad because he knew his parents were in heaven dancing with the angels.
 
Tell us something that others would be surprised to know about you.
I have five grandchildren and have been on 21 cruises.

What are your tips for having a great phone conversation?
First and foremost, listen. Acknowledge their request and express willingness to assist. Show compassion and empathy—we all need a little understanding. 
Upcoming virtual events
We miss seeing you in-person at conferences. However, we're still active in the patient assistance community and participating in virtual events.


August 25-27

  • On 8/26 at 11:25am ET, Vice President of Medical Affairs Ayesha Azam and Vice President of Development Leena Patel will host a session called "Patient Assistance Compliance and Oversight."

September 8, 10, 15, and 17

  • On 9/10 at 3:45pm ET, Ayesha Azam, Vice President of Medical Affairs, will speak during a session called "The Cost of Cancer Care: Navigating Financial Toxicity."
  • This two-part session will also feature Dan Sherman, from the NaVectis Group, and Darcy Burbage, from ONS. Part one of the session begins at 1pm ET.

September 14-18

October 3-4

  • On 10/4, at 5:30pm ET, Senior Manager of Provider Relations Audrey Quartey will speak during a session called " Connecting Underinsured Patients with the Treatment they Need."

October 17-20

October 22-23

November 4-8