Ian Manners Wants to Reduce Out-of-pocket Prescription Drug Costs
Vivor helps connect qualifying patients with financial assistance programs.
Posted December 8, 2016
by Clayton Gentry
MATTER Journalism Resident
Out-of-pocket drug costs have risen dramatically in recent years. And while the vast majority of patients qualify for financial assistance programs funded by the pharmaceutical companies that produce the drugs, less than a quarter of those patients ever receive the money for which they qualify. Ian Manners, CEO of the financial assistance search platform Vivor, is on a mission to fix that.
“It’s just such a shame that there’s this money available that people are not getting,” Manners said. “It’s forcing them into bankruptcy, to forego treatment — all these negative consequences, whereas if you just do a better job of matching up the money with those who need it, you can make a really big dent in the problem.”
There are many financial assistance programs to offset out-of-pocket drug costs, but healthcare providers often lack the resources to efficiently match patients with those programs. That’s where Vivor comes in.
“It’s just such a shame that there’s this money available that people are not getting”
“We built this proprietary system that lets us first catalog all of the financial assistance programs that are out there — I mean hundreds of them — with all of their details and eligibility rules,” Manners said.
Vivor uses public information to build and update its database, checking program websites twice daily to keep track of updates in close to real-time. It also maintains direct relationships with the pharmaceutical companies and nonprofit foundations that sponsor these programs.
Manners said those relationships are key to Vivor’s future. One important component of the company’s near-term product pipeline is enabling patients to actually apply for programs through the platform, rather than just discover them.
“How can we make it so that once you’ve found the right financial assistance… we can just electronically start an application with one of these foundations or manufacturers?” Manners asked. “By partnering with those organizations directly.”
At the beginning of October, Vivor received an NIH grant of $1.73 million to be paid out over two and a half years. Manners said the grant will support team growth and new R&D projects, including the aforementioned enrollment problem and more patient-facing technologies.
“We’re creating a first version of a mobile app that patients will be able to use themselves to find financial assistance,” Manners said, though he noted that Vivor still considers itself a B2B company whose users will be introduced to the app by a care provider.
Moreover, he said that Vivor hopes to work with revenue cycle management companies, that is, the institutions that provide financial services to hundreds of hospitals at once.
“We see ourselves long-term as the place where all of these financial assistance resources get exchanged,” Manners said. “It’s not just about offsetting drug co-pays. It’s about all other financial needs that people have. So that out-of-pocket costs are never the barrier to people getting what they need.”
“It’s about all other financial needs that people have. So that out-of-pocket costs are never the barrier to people getting what they need.”
For more on Ian Manners, see his LinkedIn profile.