The relevance of market access for medical technology companies has never been higher. Multiple decision-makers, with an ever increasing demand for clinical evidence and economic data, accelerated the need for teams to align their strategies and value messages around an evolving market.
On the other hand, companies still struggle with the “when” and “how” to incorporate market access into strategic or commercial planning. One of the most common questions pertains to what the actual goal of market access is: reimbursement, value creation, preparing teams?
Based on our interactions with medical companies over the years, ValueConnected compiled many important steps to ensure a successful alignment among market access, business strategy and commercial results. This article describes three of the most important steps:
1) Involve Market Access Early On
It is already too late to consider Market Access after a product is launched. While typically companies seek reimbursement after medical products hit markets, such a late and reactive approach leads to a waste of resources and investments in sub-optimal results.
When we consider the usual product development cycle, from concept and design to commercial strategy and expansion, Market Access should be involved during the initial steps. Any product launch strategy must consider specific Market Access concepts, for example:
Not long ago, a client asked for our support during product development stage. They needed to understand what would be the reimbursement mechanisms for their interventional cardiac device.
Our analysis concluded that a slight different product feature would trigger a reimbursement that was 150% higher than they would have had initially. Thus, the company quickly adjusted the product and continued its development, knowing what payment pathways would be in place later on.
Now, what if they had the same questions after product launch? After realizing the existing reimbursement was not sufficient, they would have either to pursue a new reimbursement or change the product at a very late stage. Both would require much more time and resources.
2) Plan to Engage With Payers
Companies that consider Market Access early on are able to identify the relevant stakeholders and their needs. As a consequence, these companies already know their message to Payers.
Alternatively, medical companies that neglect Payers during any stage of strategy and planning will create a significant burden to their commercial teams who will need to find a “way” to convince non-clinical decision-makers to pay for their products. This is not an easy task, especially because most commercial teams are prepared to talk to doctors and nurses, not purchasing or reimbursement managers.
Exactly as teams must know how to approach clinical decision-makers, they need to have the right message for economic stakeholders. Strategically, consider Health Economics as Marketing and Reimbursement as Sales. Although this simplification does not completely address the nuances of Market Access, it provides a valuable starting point to involve the different areas.
3) Differentiate with Value, Not Benefits
Medical technology ranges from products perceived as commodities to those innovations that can disrupt treatments and diagnostics. Regardless of the product positioning, it is always necessary to have a strong differentiation aspect and to address “WHY” the market should pay for your product.
Unfortunately, in many cases the differentiation aspect is simply a description of the product features or a vague replication of a subjective statement. These are some real examples of “differentiation messages”:
If you the reader were (or are) a decision-maker, would you choose a medical product based on any or all of the previous statements? Do they really explain the value that comes from the product?
Value is based on the expectations of clinical and economic stakeholders about the benefits of your product. Unless you understand the market needs as mentioned in step 1, it will be very difficult to craft a strong Value Message that justifies why they should pay for your product and demonstrates how your solution is unique in terms of benefits.
There is nothing wrong with features; on the contrary, they are the basis of any Value Message. The problem is when companies do not consider the perspective of Market Access in order to extract the Value Message from the technical and clinical characteristics of the product.
A strong internal integration among teams will lead to significant gains on margins and sales for everyone. So what are you waiting for? Invite your Market Access partner to your next strategic meeting.
Thanks for reading and see you again in our next post!
Do you need further examples and results from companies that successfully integrated Market Access into their strategic planning? Would you like to discuss in details how to deploy this integration in your company? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we look forward to knowing more about your specific needs and what we can do to support you.