Patient Services, Inc. reimagines patient assistance under new leadership.

Patient Services, Inc., has long been a trailblazing organization.

As the country’s first nonprofit patient assistance program, founded by a patient for patients, the PSI team has led the charge to find solutions for the chronically ill for more than three decades.

PSI has never deviated from its original mission: relieve the burden of accessing and paying for healthcare so patients with a chronic illness, rare disease or disability can focus on living their best lives. Over the last 10 years, PSI provided more than $800 million in financial assistance to help people meet their healthcare needs. In 2020 alone, nearly 15,000 patients from every state in the U.S. shared $56M in financial assistance.

The patient assistance industry – and PSI specifically – has undergone dramatic change over the last several years.

Government examination of pharmaceutical business practices, including charitable activity, led to regulatory changes in how PAPs and pharma can partner. Many PAPs entered into an Integrity Agreement with the OIG and PSI is embracing assisting patients and meeting their needs according to the highest ethical standards. 

New Leadership, New Era

In June 2020, PSI welcomed Gwen Cooper as CEO.

While new to the PAP industry, Gwen’s healthcare expertise in federal and state policy making, marketing, business and fund development resulting in the procurement of tens of millions of dollars for the creation of multiple patient-focused programs in several states made her the ideal candidate.

“The common thread throughout my career has been improving access to care and maximizing opportunities for public and private payer program development that addresses the need for good healthcare across the entire patient continuum,” Cooper said. “PSI epitomizes patient-centered care by providing financial assistance and services to patients, ensuring they get the life-sustaining treatments needed to live their best lives.”

Prior to joining PSI, Cooper served as the chief external affairs officer for Hosparus Health, the 19th-largest not-for-profit hospice and palliative care provider in the U.S. and headquartered in Louisville, Ky. Additional past positions include vice president of external affairs for Seven Counties Services – also in Louisville – and president and chief executive officer of Community Health Charities of Florida.

In the first months of her tenure, Gwen led an organization-wide redistribution of talent, updated organizational by-laws and relaunched the P.S.I. Foundation in order to increase the donor base and build unrestricted funds for programs and service expansion. Now, with a new, highly skilled leadership team in place, a shift in culture, and a Foundation fully functioning, PSI is rebuilding and expanding existing relationships, forging new alliances, and improving its brand reputation exponentially.

Built to Innovate, Again

With a new team in place, PSI has launched a new vision for patient assistance.

As those affected by or who work with people who have chronic and rare diseases know, the high cost of lifesaving and life-improving interventions is often so high patients choose to skip or forego treatments to meet other financial obligations.

This financially induced non-adherence “costs the United States billions of dollars per year. Hospital admission rates increase for non-adherent patients with chronic illness by up to 69 percent,” according to the CDC.

According to Cooper, PSI is speaking up.

“We can be part of the solution to increase adherence, improve outcomes and lower costs,” Cooper said. “We are the true safety net for our patients, and we can and will provide coordinated care along their patient journey as a partner in today’s value-based world.”

The goal, Cooper explains, is to “expand patient services through collaboration with our valued partners in the healthcare ecosystem, improving health outcomes for those who live with chronic and rare illness. In practice, the program will improve adherence by helping patients and families avoid slipping into medically induced poverty. Most of us are one health catastrophe away from bankruptcy. Proper care coordination with treatment adherence at the core allows PSI to maximize household sustainability and truly improve lives.”

Because of PSI’s unique relationships with patients, providers, PBMs, generics manufacturers and specialty pharmacies, “we are in a rare position to address the problem of comprehensive drug and treatment pricing from a 360-degree perspective,” Cooper said. “Our deep relationships with key elected and appointed officials means we have a seat at the table to help craft solutions, not just talk about them.”

“It is an exciting time to be at PSI as we continue to ask, ‘what if and why not?’” Cooper said. “Our team is anxious to innovate and blaze a new trail forward with old friends and new.”

Reach out to Gwen, [email protected], to see how you can join PSI in “Reimagining Patient Assistance.”

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