Home » Managing Illnesses » Patient Support Programs Help People with Rare Diseases
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Sandra Anderson

Senior Vice President of Commercialization & Strategy, Innomar Strategies

Support programs empower patients easing the additional pressures, and accelerating access to the specialty treatments that they need.


Canadians with a rare disease experience many struggles. It often takes years before they’re correctly diagnosed, potentially leading to incorrect treatments, frustration, and uncertainty. While a diagnosis may bring some reprieve, it can also mark the beginning of additional challenges, which include lengthy wait times for specialist appointments, paperwork and administrative follow-up, and apprehension regarding treatment availability, along with figuring out how to access treatments.

One in 12 Canadians lives with a rare disease. But because each disease affects only a small number of individuals, awareness and expertise are limited, even among health care providers. This leaves patients and their families feeling isolated and overwhelmed.

The high cost of living with a rare disease

Many people assume that the costs of health care services in Canada are completely covered, but unfortunately this isn’t the case. In addition, securing funding through private or public drug plans for rare disease treatments represents a significant challenge. Patients and families are left to navigate how they’ll obtain the treatment they so desperately need, and to understand who will support them if they need to have their treatment delivered by ongoing infusions or injections. This creates a high degree of stress given that they may be unable to afford the high cost of these treatments. 

Patient support program (PSP) services are meant to ease the patient’s health journey and to ensure that they can access their important therapy at a time when they need it the most.

Programs ease patient’s health journey 

“Patient support program (PSP) services are meant to ease the patient’s health journey and to ensure that they can access their important therapy at a time when they need it the most,” says Sandra Anderson, Senior Vice President of Commercialization and Strategy at Innomar Strategies. 

As a result of gaps in the Canadian health care system, manufacturer-sponsored PSPs were developed to address an unmet need in the marketplace. These programs help patients and their families navigate funding to access to their prescribed treatment along with options for treatment administration.

PSPs reduce the administration burden for patients and health care providers by gathering information, coordinating paperwork with benefits providers, and advocating on behalf of patients and families. It’s of the utmost importance that they work collaboratively with the patient’s health care team to assist with optimizing treatment outcomes. 

“Partnerships with companies who offer integrated services, such as Innomar Strategies, can provide a seamless experience by supporting the patient journey at all stages,” says Anderson. “These providers connect the patient and their family to services such as specialty pharmacies and nurses trained in specialty medication. A PSP will help alleviate some of their health care challenges and maximize patient health outcomes.”   

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