In India, more than 1.3 million people develop cancer each year. Cancer is the third highest cause of mortality among NCDs (National Coverage Determinations), reflecting poor access to cancer care. Despite remarkable breakthroughs in cancer care, ensuring patients have access to these breakthroughs remains a challenge. Some of key barriers in India include low awareness, poor diagnosis, limited primary care physicians, lack of access to standard of care, limited treatment infrastructure, poor distribution, low adherence to treatment and finally, affordability. While various companies provide patient assistance programmes for some of the barriers, a single platform to navigate these multiple challenges was missing.
Roche India designed and created “The Blue Tree” programme to be that single, differentiated, holistic cancer support programme that supports both, patients and their families through the journey of their treatment by offering services that support them to overcome key access barriers. The programme is designed to assist patients with various services ranging from diagnostics, educational material on cancer in nine different Indian local languages, identifying funding sources, assistance with documentation for reimbursement, home delivery of drugs, free medicines where possible and therapy reminder calls. Our integrated approach to patient support also empowers physicians to initiate therapy, as early as possible, ensuring delivery of optimal outcomes.
The programme services can be grouped in four broad categories:
- Disease awareness & Testing: Disease awareness material is provided to patients via the doctors in 9 languages across 5 different types of cancers. Biomarker testing support is also provided for patients who cannot afford, or do not have access to quality testing facilities.
- Funding solutions: Programme coordinators discuss less understood sources of funding including bundled health insurance, state & central government available schemes, preferential loan features of savings bank accounts, life insurance and cooperative society memberships. This information unlocks potential funding sources thus reducing the chance of a compromise in treatment choice based on affordability. If the patient is covered under one of 40+ partial reimbursement schemes, the coordinator helps them with reimbursement timelines and list of documents needed to avail reimbursement. If required, the patient is also guided to a personal loan.
- Adherence support: Programme coordinators reach out to the patient at set frequencies, especially before and after infusion cycles. Patients are additionally supported with standardized PAPs for all key products enhancing affordability and adherence. And in places where patient cannot avail drug due to unavailability of drug in remote locations, the drug purchased by patient is delivered at patient’s home.
- Customized Reports: The programme also updates prescribers with summary records & service profiles of enrolled patients.
The Blue Tree programme has touched patients’ lives by adopting a systematic and comprehensive approach. Since program inception, more than 750 doctors have supported the programme, resulting in the enrollment of more than 5,000 patients till end of 2017. Programme statistics indicate that in 2015, 50% of patients who enquired about the programme enrolled and benefited from its services and this percentage has increased to 85% in 2017. More than 1800 patients have been provided drug at no cost. An additional impact of this offering is the increasing trust and value established with physicians and the doubling of patient enrollments month on month since programme initiation. The programme success is a result of partnership with call center, distributors, financial institutions, logistics providers, and several others who share our patient-centric approach.
The Blue Tree Programme was also presented as a best practice example in patient access solution at a side event in 72nd United Nations General Assembly in 2017
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