Patient Pharmacy Assistance Program eases burden for uninsured, underinsured patients

Friday, October 16, 2020

A program developed by the WVU Medicine Department of Pharmacy at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital is easing the burden for uninsured and underinsured patients who need lifesaving medications but not the stress of worrying about how they will afford them.

Michelle Gibson

The WVU Health System Patient Assistance Program began in 2019 when the department broke ties with an outside vendor and moved the project in-house. In early 2019, Michelle Gibson (pictured left), a clinical pharmacy technician, was hired to assist with the development of the program and to become a point of contact for providers and patients throughout the system. Launching the initiative within the organization provided a more personal experience for patients, while also saving the organization money by avoiding the outsourcing fees.

The program has gained momentum through 2020 and works in collaboration with the enterprise prior authorization team to automate referrals. It has assisted 65 patients, received more than 150 doses of medication, and is responsible for securing $1 million in free drugs provided to WVU Medicine patients. Currently, it serves Ruby and Reynolds Memorial Hospital but has been able to assist a few patients at other system hospitals, as well.

Moving forward, the program looks to expand its services to all sites within the system and is on track to serve Camden Clark Medical Center later this year. With additional resources and continued collaboration with the enterprise’s prior authorization team, the program could expand patient assistance by 25 percent and see an additional $250,000 in savings in 2021.