A strategic market access consultant won’t create a strategy for you but can help a great deal in optimal decision making and saving money down the road. Here are 5 reasons why you need one.
Recently, a client challenged me by sharing a colourful and blunt infographic depicting the 5 reasons why a consultant cannot create a successful strategy for you. In fact, it was freely inspired by a viral Forbes series of myth-busting articles. Strategy Myth #7 was indeed titled “Strategy Can Be Made By Consultants”. Worryingly (or not), I found myself agreeing with most of these compelling reasons. For instance:
“Strategy is too important to outsource” – it sure is!
“Best practices from elsewhere don’t work” – I know they don’t.
The environment is so dynamic and each product or indication situation is so unique that trying to apply a best practice from a peer company equates to rolling a die. In the orphan drug space, for instance, many clients ask us “can we replicate a success story like Soliris?”. “Sorry, it won’t work” is the invariable answer to that.
To my bemusement, I realised that the author of the article, Jeroen Kraaijenbrink, is himself a strategy consultant. Why is he saying this? Self-inflicted pain? Sawing off the branch you’re sitting on? Absolutely not. In fact, Jeroen and I couldn’t agree more. A consultant won’t create a strategy for you but can help a great deal. Here are 5 reasons why you need a strategic market access consultant:
9 times out of 10, the customer in market access is a healthcare payer. A rather tough customer. But also, a rare one. Try to get insights from your prescribers and you will have a big ocean from which to fish. Try to get the same from payers and you might end up with a handful of actual decision-makers. Good market access consultants nurture a network of payers, prioritizing network relevance and depth over breadth, to bring tremendous value to your strategy development. Payer testing, when done right, will act as a way to reconcile internal value perception (often written up in a Target Product Profile) and external value perception (summarised in a Target Payer Value Profile).
Strategic market access consultants… help you to make the best possible trade-offs
A time will come in your strategy development process when you must take accountability and make decisions. A good, albeit simplistic, example is that a market access strategy is often down to a choice between ‘broad access at affordable price vs. narrow access at premium price’. There is nothing necessarily good or bad about either, but surely one will be a better fit for you than the other. Are your costs of goods relatively high and not likely to come down? You will need to make the best possible trade-off before you decide to go for the narrow positioning and negotiate a higher price. Do you have a large team supporting a product about to lose exclusivity in the same indication? You will need to make the best possible trade-off before you decide to go for the broad positioning and reallocate your team to the new product.
Think about your strategic market access consultant as a means to get the best of both worlds: your product expertise, in-depth understanding of the company’s strategic imperatives and ultimate accountability, combined with impeccable knowledge of the environment, great analogue exemplars/data, and the right tools to structure the strategy development process. Together you go a long way in optimizing internal decision-making and saving money down the road.