Improving Access to Health, Improving Lives

STI Technologies Limited
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

For over 20 years, STI Technologies Limited has made a positive difference in the lives of Canadians. By leveraging reimbursement funding, STI constantly improves access to medications through technology and analytics.

Back in 2012, the company launched its flagship program, innoviCares®. To date, the free innoviCares card has helped over two million Canadian residents save on select name-brand prescription medications at pharmacies. Today, STI is much more than innoviCares, and supports over 200 programs and hundreds of brands.

Working with pharma
When innoviCares was created, many pharmaceutical products were losing their exclusivity. This saw the emergence of lower cost alternatives come to market. innoviCares offered patients the choice to stay on the brand name product by removing financial barriers. Since then, there has been a shift in the market to specialty molecules and high-cost complex therapies, which typically go hand-in-hand with patient support programs, supported by pharmaceutical manufacturers.

This saw STI leverage its core DNA—which is in financial assistance—to shift from co-pay programs into patient support programs. “We’ve been pivoting for the last seven years into more of this space,” says Kimberley Cody, Director of Offerings and Marketing.

“We are still maintaining our co-pay business and innoviCares, but we are leveraging our differentiators to edge our space into patient support programs in the market,” she says.

Continually innovating since the company was founded in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2001, STI has become a leader in the Canadian market for digital and tech-enabled patient support programs. That includes building its own patient management platform integrated with its financial reimbursement engine.

This means STI can automatically enrol patients, leverage algorithms, and perform back-end calculations to allocate financial benefits to patients based on what they qualify for, which impacts their reimbursement program card in near real-time. Patients can be better managed, and program efficacy can be demonstrated to pharmaceutical managers.

“It’s leaning more into ‘how do we leverage tech and data to make smarter decisions, and to optimize our workforce?’” Cody explains. Existing patient support programs lean heavily on caseworkers, which can be costly to pharmaceutical companies, along with having to support the financials of a drug. Since these are big-ticket items for pharmaceutical manufacturers to support, STI is innovating how best to engage and provide streamlined solutions.

Creating awareness
Often, patients don’t know where to go for help, and STI has tools to create awareness of specific programs. The company works with pharmaceutical manufacturers who value their patients and want them to get—and stay—on therapies while providing personalized services. This includes running and sponsoring programs for pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers create awareness about their programs through representatives who visit physicians and pharmacies and communicate to eligible patients about the programs they may be eligible for. To help create awareness, STI has a suite of marketing, production, and logistics offerings, aimed to most effectively communicate with physicians, clinics and pharmacies.

“We use our program materials and the channels we have perfected over the years to enable education about programs, and we run training sessions with reps,” says Cody. At the consumer level, this includes leveraging technology to create greater awareness for patients, from videos to innovative promotional materials.

During the height of COVID-19, pharmaceutical companies had concerns about their patients, many of them experiencing reduced wages or job loss, which caused issues with drug affordability. Understanding the concerns, STI quickly brought to market compassionate support program whereby pharma could engage with solutions and help bridge patients until they were more financially secure, providing continuity of medication over the pandemic and helping alleviate financial burden so patients could get the health care they needed.

Going digital
COVID-19 also helped speed up the use of digital materials and solutions. “It was a good primer for us because we were already down this digital enablement route,” says Cody. When COVID happened, STI turned to its patient and client base, asking how the company could support them during that difficult time. This saw more digital solutions and a reimbursement engine agile enough to set up programs that could help different user-case scenarios.

Soon, STI came to the market with several offerings that addressed some key issues. This included pharmaceutical representatives, who weren’t able to visit physicians in person anymore yet still needed to get program information out there about products and available services to keep patients on therapy. STI created a solution: bringing a digital representative offering to the market. Printed materials were digitized so pharmaceutical company reps could have virtual calls with physicians and send doctors digital cards for distribution to patients when they visited.

This not only helped reps meet their mandates but kept patients on therapy through program financial assistance.

pharmacyCares™: pharmacy-led patient support program
One recent brand STI is bringing to market is pharmacyCares (, which enables patient support program (PSP) services to be delivered by community pharmacists. Traditional PSP models leverage specialty pharmacy networks, but the innovative pharmacyCares concept is patient-centric. Through STI and its partners, patients can go to pharmacies closer to where they live for easier accessibility.

“We’re trying to mitigate, as much as possible, re-directing patients on what could be a disruptive trip to a specialty network and bringing them back to the community they live in and their community pharmacy as well,” says Cody.

A unique model, the pharmacyCares platform is supported by STI’s back-end tech and data. The goal is to take pharmacyCares nationally. “Again, it’s about shifting into patient support programs, and it’s about making the patient’s experience more accessible, more personalized, more aligned with their needs, and giving equal access to maintain patients within their community at their community pharmacy,” says Cody.

Much of STI’s strength comes from its team, which includes tech developers who enable the company’s internal platform and systems; reimbursement specialists who support the adjudication of programs; and front-line caseworkers who engage with patients and help support them, together with sales, marketing, graphic designers, data analysts, and data scientists, who all work in consultation with clients to deliver the most effective, patient-centric programs to market.

On a mission
In the future, STI Technologies will continue its mission of becoming the number one tech- and data-enabled PSP provider in Canada.

“There are so many innovative solutions out there,” says Cody, referring to the emergence of Artificial Intelligence Machine learning (AIML) and what it means for patient support program optimization; the complexity of the reimbursement landscape; streamlining processes; and delivering more personalized patient journeys in a way that’s agile and not a ‘one-size-fits-all.’

“How do we leverage our pharmacyCares network to collect real-world data and evidence that we can use to help support patients on therapy, get them covered financially, and make a meaningful impact on our clients as they’re growing and investing in their products?” Cody asks.

She believes that “the future for STI will be a continued investment in patient support programs, but really pushing the envelope on what that means in Canada. It means changing the lens of what it has been and ramping up those innovations so our patients can benefit.”



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