Look for the helpers: Nicole Kearney, Noble Health Services

Every day, healthcare providers and pharmacists are on the front lines of helping patients in need connect with financial assistance to start and stay on treatment.

“I recently met with a patient at risk of going an entire month without their HIV medication because they could not afford the co-pay,” said Nicole Kearney, who works for Noble Health Services, a specialty pharmacy in Syracuse, New York. Luckily, that same day, she applied for and received a PAN grant for her patient—before any prescription doses were missed.

As a process improvement supervisor, Nicole manages the onboarding and training of employees who staff Noble’s 24/7/365 call center. She also oversees their free overnight medication delivery program and co-pay assistance services. It’s a big job, but she is passionate about helping those with complex and chronic conditions.

“The most rewarding aspect of my job is being able to reduce patient stress—especially if they are newly diagnosed with a complex, chronic disease. Seeing patients access grants quickly is a great feeling.”

COVID-19 is only going to deepen existing health disparities across the U.S., especially in states hit hard by the virus. Nicole said more of her patients will be applying for assistance. “We’re looking to set our patients up for success so that they can continue their treatment without being burdened by the cost of care.” She uses PAN’s website in her day-to-day work. Not long ago, she was helping a new pharmacy patient apply online for a PAN grant. “We received a message to call PAN and were informed that he actually previously enrolled,” Nicole recalled.

Her call was one of the 365,546 calls PAN answered this year. What impressed her the most as the manager of a patient call center? How promptly PAN’s representatives helped her patient renew his funding. “They even provided needed processing information to our pharmacy—that makes my job easier.”

It takes a village to provide quality patient care. Financial concerns are often just one part of the challenge. “Patients often request injection training resources, sharps container disposal, and travel kits for refrigerated medications,” Nicole said. “They need more than just co-pay assistance.” Pharmacists and staff are also in a great position to fill in those missing patient education gaps related to specialty medications.

Through PAN’s network of alliance partners, which includes over 20 partnerships with leading patient support organizations, 34,581 patients received additional patient support and education resources last year.