Ask Jessie (Kendrick) Olive what her role at Central Georgia Cancer Care is and she’ll tell you her name tag reads, “Patient Assistance Coordinator and Patient Account Representative Team Lead.” But if you ask the patients she’s helped or the people she works with, the word “Super” should probably be on there somewhere.
That’s because Jessie has a knack for saving the day.
“I have a lot of patients who walk into my office scared,” says Jessie. “They were just given a life-changing diagnosis, and on top of that, they were told the treatment will cost thousands of dollars they may not have.”
She often finds that patients are more worried about how to pay for care than about the diagnosis itself.
“They think, ‘This is really scary, but I’m going to be okay if I can just afford the treatment,’” says Jessie. “That really puts things in perspective for me and reminds me why I do what I do.”
Armed with a positive attitude, creative problem-solving skills, and lots of compassion, Jessie has always excelled at finding and securing assistance to help her patients afford their treatments.
“Nine times out of ten, there’s some kind of assistance out there,” she says, “and I’ll search until I find it.”
So last spring when her practice first adopted AssistPoint®, the workflow platform from Annexus Health that helps provider organizations navigate and manage the patient access journey, Jessie was skeptical.
She could see the value of AssistPoint® to a practice that didn’t have full-time staff devoted to patient access, but her practice had her—why would it need AssistPoint®? After all, Jessie had completed so many enrollments that it had become second nature to her, and she had an encyclopedic knowledge of all things patient assistance.
“Someone can pass me in the hall and tell me a patient’s diagnosis and insurance and I can tell them what I can do for the patient right then and there,” she says.
Nevertheless, Jessie gave AssistPoint® a try. And the more she used it, the more she liked it.
“Before AssistPoint®, it would take a decent amount of time to search for and enroll a patient in an assistance program,” she says. “AssistPoint® makes me so much faster at securing assistance! And the faster I can get it, the more people I can help.”
This is especially true of the patient support programs that are digitally integrated with AssistPoint®, allowing Jessie to enroll patients directly within the platform rather than having to navigate to a separate portal.
“It cuts the enrollment time in half, at least,” she says, noting that because she has been working for several years in a position that is fully focused on patient assistance, she was already exceptionally fast at completing enrollments.
“For someone who’s fairly new to this or someone who is juggling other work responsibilities and doesn’t have as much time to spend figuring out what’s what, AssistPoint® could cut the process down from a couple of hours to a couple of minutes,” she says.
Today, Jessie has thrown away the old spreadsheets she once relied on and put all her trust in AssistPoint®.
“It was a big deal for me because it takes me a while to trust a new technology,” she says. “But I can trust AssistPoint® because it’s always accurate. I’ve never found any discrepancies between what AssistPoint® is telling me and what I believe to be true based on my own research.”
“AssistPoint® has made my life a lot easier, and my desk a lot clearer! It puts everything I need in one place, which is really great. And now I don’t have to store it all up here!” She laughs, gesturing to her head. “It was a lot to store up there.”
One of Jessie’s favorite features of AssistPoint® is the Watchlist, which helps her document which patients are waiting for funds to open up. Another is the User Scorecard report that she prints each month for her CEO, Kevin Svoboda, to present to shareholders to show how much the practice is helping patients to afford their care.
But what really cemented Jessie’s love for AssistPoint® is the notification feature, she explains, sharing a story that may sound all too familiar to anyone who works in patient assistance…at least in the beginning:
“A patient walked into my office and said, ‘The doctor says this medication is one of my last options, but the co-pay is over $4,000 a month. There’s no way I can afford that!’”
The patient went on to say that her husband was in hospice care and she needed the medication in order to be around to care for him for as long as possible.
Jessie searched AssistPoint® for foundation assistance, but none was available. She applied for the manufacturer’s free drug program, but the patient was denied due to her income level.
“Her income was higher than their limit, but it was nowhere close to high enough to afford a $4,000 a month medication,” says Jessie. “I went back and forth with the manufacturer for weeks, then finally got a firm denial.”
So when the patient returned to her office, Jessie knew it would be a difficult conversation. It would be one of those rare, horrible times when she would have to say outright, “No, there’s nothing I can do for you. You’re out of options.”
“Usually, I can tell patients it’s just a ‘no’ for right now but that I’ll keep trying and get back to them once I secure the assistance,” says Jessie. But in this case, she had already tried, and tried, and tried to no avail.
“The patient came in to thank me for trying and told me she had already gotten the denial letter and had actually contacted a realtor and made plans to sell her house in order to pay for the treatment,” says Jessie. “It was heartbreaking.”
Suddenly, a notification from AssistPoint® popped up on Jessie’s computer, alerting her to funds for the patient’s diagnosis that had just opened up.
“I went into AssistPoint® and did the application while she was sitting right across from me, and it was approved instantly. I looked at her and said, ‘I just fixed your problem!’ She couldn’t believe it!”
Crying happy tears, the patient called her realtor from Jessie’s office and took her house off the market.
“I’m so thankful I got that notification,” says Jessie. “The patient thinks it was fate.”
AssistPoint® has become Jessie’s secret weapon, making her truly unstoppable on her mission to help her patients get access to the care they need. In 2021 alone, Central Georgia Cancer Care was proud to be able to help over 500 patients receive financial assistance through AssistPoint®—and through Jessie’s hard work.
“Now I’m a walking billboard for AssistPoint®,” she says. “I tell everyone to use AssistPoint® because it’s easier, more efficient; you get quicker notifications; and you get reports so you can show shareholders and prospective patients what your practice is doing to help with affordability. It’s really awesome.”