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Otsuka, GSK, Bayer and other execs on balancing payers, patients and physicians

An integrated, multi-stakeholder approachBy Paul Simms, Chairman eyeforpharma and Dr. Wolfgang Lippert, Senior Director, Healthcare and Life Sciences, SalesForce

Who is the most important stakeholder when it comes to ensuring patients gain access to new, innovative medicines? Trick question—they all are Companies today need to engage with an almost bewildering array of influencers and decisionmakers. As well as patients, payers and prescribers, there are health insurers, healthcare providers, HTA bodies, regulators… the list is almost endless.

All companies need to adopt a truly multi-stakeholder approach as the basis of their commercial models. Many are making radical changes to their organizational structure, integrating their approaches towards stakeholders.

However, a revolution is not required. What is needed is a re-orientation of an outdated commercial model to encompass enhanced cross-functional activities and digital know-how—as only then can our industry face the challenges of the new multi-stakeholder model.

The organizations that adapt best to the demands of this new ecosystem will be those that thrive.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Successful companies are seeking to understand the needs of each group of stakeholders, and create solutions to meet them.

Now recognized by most pharma companies as the principal customer, patients are engaged across the drug value chain. With a clear model for engagement now defined, meaningful collaboration with the end-user has become the hallmark of successful trials and product launches.

While the importance of patients in the development, approval and commercialization of innovative new medicines rises, companies have a long way to go before fully understanding and delivering on the full range of patients’ needs. Healthcare professionals, principally physicians, remain a central stakeholder and customer for pharmaceutical companies, however, their relative influence has declined over time. As the importance of patients rises and HCPs are increasingly seen as collaborators in patient care, the way companies interact with them is evolving rapidly.

Technology—which is already reshaping not just the relationship between pharma and HCPs but between HCPs and patients—will continue to do so. In the near future, decision-support systems harnessing AI and machine learning will support HCPs, leaving pharma to influence not so much what a physician prescribes but how they prescribe it.

The role of payers, policy makers, HTA bodies and other influencers has grown hugely in recent years, with involvement in every stage of the product lifecycle. Tackling the challenge of healthcare affordability, companies are searching for new engagement paradigms that focus on the holistic value of a medicine—not just to the patient but the wider healthcare ecosystem.

Clear links between health outcomes and payment will see medicines coming to market that are well-differentiated and which address unmet needs. However, aligning the development process to ensure appropriate data are available—especially when goalposts may move over time—remains a challenge.

How to integrate the interactions of all these stakeholders is a question many companies struggle to answer today. Internal alignment is essential; to deliver a consistent commercial approach, functions from Medical to Marketing, Market Access to R&D, must break out of their silos and work together in new ways. Focusing on the needs of patients and leveraging the potential of technology are key.

PART 1—PATIENTS

The growth of patient-centricity has been something of an earthquake for the industry. Identifying the patient as the ultimate beneficiary has been the catalyst for some of the biggest changes made to the traditional pharmaceutical model.

Companies are now engaging with patients at all phases of the drug lifecycle, and meaningful collaboration has become the hallmark of successful trials and product launches.

“It used to be the physician was the learned intermediary who had all the information. The patient was totally dependent. Today with unprecedented access to information online, patients have become direct consumers of healthcare.”

—Bob Oliver, CEO and Chairman of V ClinBio, and former CEO and President of Otsuka

Markus Kosch, VP Oncology Portfolio at Pfizer Oncology, across Europe, Japan and developed Asia, highlights the success of a non-branded app for breast cancer patients, developed in conjunction with patients and patient advocates. It’s a good example of effective co-creation in this space.

“The app is not branded and is completely free of product references, but it allows patients to interact with physicians, their loved ones, and their social network, helping them to monitor their emotional needs and status. It’s a very smart app, and it’s in use in 16 countries across our international developed markets.”

“We have moved from speaking to patients or even over patients, to including them when we are putting things together, so we engage patients early on in order to identify their needs.”

—-Markus Kosch, VP Oncology Portfolio at Pfizer Oncology, across Europe, Japan and developed Asia

Jane Griffiths, Global Head at Actelion, notes that the patient voice has strengthened considerably. Patient advocacy groups now understand what they can ask of the industry and vice versa, she says. “Over the years, they have become much more professionalized. They have strengthened their reputation such that their involvement in regulatory body reviews, pricing and reimbursement reviews and inputting into clinical trial protocol development is really valued. A lot of the patient groups are so well-informed [on these topics], which wasn’t the case 20 years ago.”

Greater patient education and disease awareness should be a huge priority for the industry, says Griffiths. “For us, there is a clear model for engagement, because patients are essentially at the center of what we do when we innovate new medicines for areas of unmet needs.” This extends into all areas of development, with Pfizer now insisting on collecting patient-reported outcomes in all their clinical trials, as well as reporting back to patients on the outcomes of trials, says Kosch.

This also includes support programs developed with patient input, whether it is a patient diary or app or a monitor. Patients are even being consulted about packaging and dosing administration. “Where appropriate and permitted, we are consulting with patients a lot more. We have a desire to understand how patients feel about the medicines we produce. It’s only natural that, as an organization, we would like to hear how they’ve benefited. If they haven’t, we want to hear that too.”

IT’S THE JOURNEY, NOT THE DESTINATION

Barrett Madrigal, Senior Director at Eli Lilly Japan, says one stakeholder group doesn’t take precedence over the other, rather “they are linked by a common underlying objective—of achieving the best possible outcomes for patients. At Lilly Japan, our slogan is Patients First, and we try to make all our decisions based on what’s best for the patient. We ask ourselves, ‘Would a patient be happy, satisfied or relieved to know that we are working on a particular thing or engaged in that specific kind of activity?’”

The company has developed a number of customer support programs, completely independent from its commercial arm, adds Madrigal. “We can’t do direct-to-consumer advertizing, but we have what we call disease awareness campaigns where we talk about the incidence and prevalence of disease, the signs and symptoms, and we provide resources for patients to better understand their affliction and how to seek treatment appropriately, including working with scientific societies.”

Patients’ unmet medical needs are at the forefront from the beginning of Lilly’s development strategy. “We look at areas that intersect and we try to identify tensions within those journeys. We try to prioritize those moments of truth based on the frustration level and where we can help,” he says.

Filtering the vast swaths of online resources is essential not only for patients, but also for their wider support system. Kabir Nath, CEO of Otsuka North America pharmaceutical business, explains that his organization has been engaged with advocacy groups and patient groups for some time. As his company primarily works in areas of mental health and neurodegenerative conditions, he sees engagement with families and caregivers as critically important. “For instance, for somebody suffering from schizophrenia to be cared for adequately, it is absolutely a collaboration between the patient, physician and family members or caregivers. And, as we start to look into Alzheimer’s disease, where we have drugs being studied to possibly deal with agitated behavior, again we recognize that the spouse, child or even professional caregiver for a patient with dementia is a really important part of the equation.” To this end, listening techniques around the patient and caregiver community are a high priority for Otsuka.

We do a lot of ethnographic research to develop a patient journey and we map out a physician journey, as well as a payer journey.

—Barrett Madrigal, Senior Director at Eli Lilly Japan

According to Sebastian Guth, Chief Marketing Officer Pharmaceuticals at Bayer, responsible patient engagement begins at research and development and continues right through the value chain. “We systematically involve patients as early as possible in the drug development process. We bring them in and they help us ensure that the trial design meets the real-world needs and patient expectations. In market access, we continuously expand direct patient engagement within legal and compliance boundaries.” In the commercial space, Bayer is focusing on improving health literacy, allowing patients to make informed decisions in order to ultimately achieve better outcomes.

“Very few patients clearly understand the message. We have a very strong drive to evolve the language into being more simple, relevant and understandable.”

—Sebastian Guth, Chief Marketing Officer, Pharmaceuticals, Bayer

Most of this work within Bayer comes under the auspices of a systematic initiative called PIE—Patient Insights and Engagement. “It is very much embedded into our company’s activities and guides us in everything we do in order to truly understand the patient’s needs, preferences and what matters to them.

“More than in the past, patients are the driver for our marketing plans but we are recognizing we need to go through the HCP. That has been the biggest change.”

—Hans Gilhuys, Global Multichannel Director, GSK

“At this moment, the percentage of patients who have their medical records to hand is probably in single digits. My firm belief is that the paradigm will continue to change rapidly and that, in the future, technology will ultimately help us to determine the best next intervention for each individual patient much faster and much more efficiently.”

Patient journey mapping is becoming more sophisticated, says Hans Gilhuys, Global Multichannel Director at GSK. “Within those patient journeys, we recognize the points where HCPs play a role for patients but also what other sources they use for getting their information. More than in the past, patients are the driver for our marketing plans but we are recognizing we need to go through the HCP. That has been the biggest change—before, we just focused on HCPs and thinking of what information and services they need but now we provide information and services that enable HCPs to support their patients and achieve improved patient outcomes,” says Gilhuys.

At a time when pharma is working overtime to build relationships with patients, trust is a major issue, another executive told us. “Some patients will still see us as greedy and money-hungry; there is still a lack of understanding out there when it comes to drug companies. I don’t know why industry doesn’t invest more in changing that perception.”

While acknowledging that the complex regulatory landscape limits how organizations can reach the patient, he says companies’ attempts at patient engagement have been poor. “I see a lot of lip service when it comes to patient-centricity; companies are failing to live up to their mission statements. The reality is that very few pharma companies are losing money because the patient doesn’t like them. We want to know our end users are happy and that things are working, but that’s not who buys from us,” he says.

“Our stakeholders have different preferences from the past. Face-to-face interactions are less wanted and so more difficult to achieve, but we are now realizing that they are also possibly less effective in driving uptake of a medicine.”

—Markus Kosch, Pfizer Oncology

PART 2—HCPS AND PROVIDERS

The diminishing influence of the physician in healthcare decision-making has been one of the main factors for the widespread reorientation of stakeholder priority by industry. The traditional model of face-to-face calls between sales reps and HCPs is also coming under scrutiny—is this approach redundant or still a vital component of the multi-stakeholder model?

Bob Oliver says “[The doctor] used to be the one who made all the decision in terms of diagnosis, what they prescribe, and how the patient would follow their instructions. Now you have health insurer algorithms telling them what to prescribe and how to prescribe. You also have patients who have a strong voice in their own care. All these stakeholders mean the voice of the physician has diminished over time.”

As the needs of patients take precedence over those of HCPs, companies are increasingly seeing HCPs as collaborators in patient care. For GSK’s Hans Gilhuys: “Reaching HCPs isn’t our main objective anymore—it helps us, in connecting with patients, and then we can work together to help them.” He believes sales calls still have their place in the overall commercial model. “We want to help HCPs make decisions when they have specific questions about individual patients and that role is still there for the sales rep. It is also a very powerful way of engaging— you are face to face and you can look them in the eye… you get clarity on what HCPs are expecting of us and also what we can provide. It remains a critical element of what we do.”

According to Pfizer’s Kosch, while physicians continue to be very important stakeholders, what has fundamentally changed is how pharma interacts with them. “What we have learned is that our stakeholders have different preferences from the past. In many countries, face-to-face interactions are less desired and so more difficult to achieve, but we are now realizing that they are also possibly less effective in driving uptake of a medicine.”

In Pfizer’s experience, physicians are “going fully digital” so they wish for pharma to engage with them in a digital way. “They want high quality medical education and orientation and a heads up on our data before it becomes visible in print media. Oncology is a good example—it is super complex and fast-moving—and it is very difficult for a treating oncologist to quickly learn and adapt to changes, so they expect guidance from us.”

Reaching the physician is now not just the job of the sales rep—sales force, medical affairs and HCP websites all act as the interface between industry and medics.

The role of medical scientific liaisons (MSLs) has increased tremendously, as have health outcomes and other roles that work to help physicians determine the return on their efforts, explains Madrigal. He is adamant, however, that sales calls to individual physicians are not a thing of the past.

Lilly is also redesigning many of its traditional tools; Madrigal says destination websites have not proved to be that popular with physicians, “especially if they are very glitzy”. These have been toned down. The organization is also working on e-medical liaison, so that physician requests are answered remotely and thus more quickly—and cheaply.

“This is working really well here so far—we have had hundreds of these calls and the feedback to date has been pretty good.”

NO LONGER IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT?

Otsuka’s Nath sees the same trends shaping the way pharma interacts with HCPs.“What’s changed most from a physician’s perspective is that the traditional ways of providing information via sales reps and physical materials are evolving very rapidly. You have generational change amongst physicians, you have many ways to reach them, a much better understanding now of how people like to learn, use social media and so on. Physicians still have the same expectations—they want safer and better products— but the way we engage with them has changed very much.” Otsuka is thus engaged in much more active listening with physicians than before, he adds.

However, Nath believes the model of engaging physicians is poised to evolve. “The idea that we have literally hundreds of reps out there making inefficient calls on HCPs will be out, at some point in the next 10 to 15 years. I don’t think it’s sustainable from an industry perspective, given the cost pressures we are going to be under from a pricing perspective and the challenges the payers are throwing at us.

“Whether or not technology will replace physician autonomy remains to be seen—it will very much depend on the regulatory paradigm.”

—Kabir Nath, Otsuka

“That is still our primary medium of interacting with physicians, and that has to change, but in terms of how that’s going to change and how we’re going to substitute for it, the ideal evolution is yet to be identified,” he says.

Physicians have a clear sense of the role they see themselves playing in the multi-stakeholder model, explains Sebastian Guth. “They don’t see themselves as customers but rather as partners in driving innovation.” He agrees with Madrigal that the role of medical-scientific liaisons is increasingly important, “not necessarily for all physicians but for those who are interested in driving future science.”

He emphasizes the changing nature of the relationship between patient and physician. “Many patients use technology to self-triage before they make a medical appointment and are a lot more conscious in deciding which practitioner to visit so that is producing new competition into the field and changes the relationships between physicians and patients.”

He believes technology will eventually enable decision-support systems that will allow physicians to decide the best intervention for a particular patient. “Whether technology will replace physician autonomy remains to be seen—it will very much depend on the regulatory paradigm.”

Bayer is experimenting with a program for use in chronic throm-boembolic pulmonary hypertension, a relatively rare disease that is often not diagnosed or diagnosed at a late stage.

“We are working with machine learning to automatically assess data and help physicians to diagnose much earlier or to identify patients at risk. If it works, it will be pretty powerful.”

“It is not difficult to look forward to how the pharma industry and payer could interact with an AI platform, and that will determine how the patient is treated, either directly to the patient or by telling the HCP this is the regimen you need to start them on. The decision-making capacity is taken away from the HCP. Some people may think it’s ridiculous and the wider industry view is that it’s not going to happen, but I see it as a matter of time.”

PART 3—PAYERS, POLICY MAKERS, HTA BODIES AND OTHER INFLUENCERS

With healthcare systems increasingly cash-strapped, and significant medical innovation emerging from the development pipeline, pharma has been experiencing significant pushback from payers in recent years—more than ever before.

The new reality of healthcare—rationing at worst, limited access at best—means that pharma must be far more creative in how it engages payers and regulators. Once the preserve of Regulatory Affairs and R&D, successful companies must now adopt a clear, integrated and commercially-aligned approach to engaging regulators, both proactively and early, to ensure a medicine clears the first hurdle and actually reaches patients.

“There is no doubt about it; we are facing very significant healthcare affordability challenges across societies and geographies, which is starting to limit access to innovation.”

—Sebastian Guth, Chief Marketing Officer, Pharmaceuticals, Bayer

Payers now come into every stage of the product lifecycle, and their influence has grown exponentially, says Bayer’s Guth. “Like many other companies, we have started to engage much earlier with payers and this has evolved in the same way that it has with regulatory agencies—it is less a paradigm of finalizing development and then throw a dataset over the fence and have payers or regulatory agencies look at that. Rather, we work across the whole development cycle jointly with regulatory agencies and payers to seek input and guidance and to some extent co-develop the program that we ultimately take into clinical development. We are seeking real relationships, optimizing dialogue and with that, outcomes and access,” he says.

Guth admits that while pharma is trying to think outside the box when it comes to new strategies of engaging with payers, the concept often does not translate into practice.

“Performance-based agreements are good in theory but in practice are a lot more difficult to get to. That is not necessarily our unwillingness, but it is just the evolving landscape where better access to data will ultimately increase the joint ability of payers and ourselves to come to agreements that make sense and are practical in their implementation.

“What the payers do is not easy, it is just a fact of life that resources in healthcare systems are limited and at the end of the day, we have a joint interest to bring the most innovative medicines that have the greatest impact on the wellbeing of a population in a specific geography…our experience is that there is a genuine openness to look at how programs can best be designed to ultimately provide the evidence that is required for a particular payer to then take the appropriate decisions,” he says.

CHANGE IS GOOD

Actelion’s Jane Griffiths says “It is no secret that payers have developed a very strong muscle in terms of the impact they are having on patient access to new medicines and, of course, that has an impact on the industry. We are being required to put together much more detailed dossiers for pricing and reimbursement approval. It’s not a bad thing that we are being asked to become more outcomes-focused in our health economics dossiers. That’s what we should be wanting for patients—if we are being judged on patient outcomes as per our value documents then that can only be a good thing,” she says.

“You may finish your clinical trials but then a particular payer may request other evidence, which… can significantly hold up the access process.”

—Jane Griffiths, Global Head, Actelion

Historically, clinical trials were powered to look at clinical efficacy and whether a medicine was safe or not. “That is still important but now we are looking much more at active comparators—are we better than what’s in the market already and what outcomes are we bringing for patients?” says Griffiths. While this should ultimately ensure that medicines coming to market are well-differentiated and addressing unmet needs, it can sometimes feel as though payers are continually moving the goalposts, particularly when it comes to health technology assessments (HTA).

For Pfizer’s Kosch, while the idea of payers as key stakeholders in bringing the medicine to patients is not a new one, as economic pressure increases, their position becomes more influential.

Here, Pfizer endeavors to focus on payers and potential HTAs early in the development process—an approach that brings its own challenges, he explains. “To choose the right endpoints, to come up with the right data packages, which is not always easy or not even always possible as HTA assessments and payers vary by country.”

Payers are still the most important stakeholder in terms of making sure that a company’s innovations translate into patient value, he says. “If you don’t convince the payer and get reimbursement then that’s it, the medicine may never reach the patient. We still see the volume-based model in the classical primary care business; it was about a lot of tactical marketing and a lot of face-to-face interactions but, on the payer side, it was also about rebating and volume negotiation. In the value-based model, we see more pay for solutions, pay-for-performance, and we see risk-share models and agreements.”

Payers across these markets do appear to be open to innovative agreements that could include specific caps, or models that involve pay-for-performance, and even models that go beyond simple risk-sharing, where the first stage is given for free, he notes.

A DATA-BASED RELATIONSHIP

The effort needed from companies to deliver payer needs is increasing. “The payers are demanding more. It’s no longer a spreadsheet with a few numbers on it; they want a lot of analysis,” says the head of commercial excellence at one company. “Common over-the-counter medications such as paracetamol would not be available with today’s rigor as they wouldn’t be deemed safe enough—the same goes for many antidepressants as they don’t have clinical benefits shown through gold-standard placebo-controlled multi-centre trials. This is fantastic rigour, but it has translated into payer expectations as well.”

In the US, the importance of the payer is increasing significantly, a relatively new phenomenon, notes Otsuka’s Nath. “Historically the payer has played a much less central role in the US than in other markets around the world, so historically we have spent less time with them. Absolutely the role of the payer is increasing dramatically in the US. The rise of drug costs has opened the door for payers to be much more aggressive in how they manage formulary, how they delay formulary, how they impose specific requirements and how, in a few rare cases, they try to class price and use competition to drive down their costs, like we’ve seen with the hep C virus medications.”

Bob Oliver agrees, but points to slow uptake of European-style HTA. “For us, it is still about efficacy and safety. Our relationship with payers is more adversarial than it needs to be.”

Contrary to Europe, he sees payers and industry as having “mis-aligned” interests. A crisis may be needed, in order to make stakeholders more objective, he believes. “If we ever get a breakthrough for Alzheimer’s disease, would the world be able to afford it? That’s a question we shouldn’t have to ask in the 21st century, but it’s something that would impact the entire globe.”

“Integrating digital into the relationship management you have already— that is the key, but it is also the most difficult thing.”

—Markus Kosch, Pfizer Oncology

PART 4—THE INTEGRATED COMMERCIAL MODEL

The multi-stakeholder world is incredibly complex. Shifting dynamics see stakeholder groups engaged in different ways, through different channels, at different times and by different customer-facing functions.

Organizations face an ongoing challenge to integrate these contacts into a consistent, joined-up commercial model and approach, covering all groups and touch-points, and across all internal functions.

Pfizer Oncology is moving away from the traditional sales and marketing model towards an integrated multichannel model, says Kosch, who explains that the organization has been aligning its business functions, including commercial, medical affairs and R&D, around a patient-first paradigm for almost two years.

“Patient First means that value to the patient should be the key driver for decision-making internally. We really try to translate that into our operational processes.” The company is going further by setting ‘patient targets’, he adds. “These are not necessarily revenue targets; obviously, there is a correlation, but there is still a difference in what you ultimately call it and what you base your targets numbers on.”

Unsurprisingly, digital is a major component of any multichannel, multi-stakeholder approach, underpinning the changes made organizationally. “This is not simply adding one or two digital channels, rather it is true integration of the organization’s different functions. Digital channels only become truly valuable if they are embedded into the whole process,” says Kosch.

This is particularly important when it comes to maintaining or building relationships with physicians. “Integrating digital into the relationship management you have already across medical and commercial colleagues in the company— that is the key, but it is also the most difficult thing,” he says.

For Kosch, a major challenge is ensuring full buy-in from employees. “We need them to understand sub-specialty planning, integrating channels, and the addition of channels, and how this helps us meet the digital needs of the customer, so that they understand they are enhancing their role and making them more valuable.” The shift from volume to value will continue to drive these changes in the alignment of functions, making certain functions “more meaningful”.

“It is more than a reshuffle, it is looking more and more like a major shift,” he says. “I think it will dramatically affect organizational business unit functions. That will look different from company to company but it is those organizations that are better adapting to this new paradigm that will continue to do better and the others will ultimately vanish.”

In contrast, Otsuka’s Nath says that pharma is “not changing fast enough” when it comes to the realities of the multi-stakeholder model.

“Not only are all those stakeholders becoming more important but increasingly our interactions with many of them will be more digital, depending on the area we are working in. Part of what we are doing at Otsuka is investing in capabilities that are going to be common across all areas. We are working very hard to build a common set of data and a common set of analytical capabilities that allow us to answer questions that relate to all of physicians, payers and patients and really integrate insights from all those in a way we haven’t done before.”

It’s still early days, he cautions. “Part of the challenge is continuing the balance between promoting brands because that is still ultimately that drives our revenues, but again trying to break down some of those barriers so we look at more common capabilities, as opposed to everything just sitting in brand teams.”

“Having all those disciplines joined up along the continuum of drug development, licensing, pricing and reimbursement is making companies really solidify their longitudinal approach.”

—Jane Griffiths, Global Head, Actelion

Actelion is also committed to the idea of an integrated multi-stakeholder model. A fully integrated approach right through from Phase II to approval is essential, says Griffiths. “It impacts the entire way you approach your drug development—you need an integrated approach from drug development and our access and reimbursement team. Having all those disciplines joined up along the continuum of drug development, licensing, pricing and reimbursement is making companies really solidify their longitudinal approach.”

She agrees that the historical autonomy and independence of pharma functions is a thing of the past. “Rather than people working in silos and disciplines, they are all very much dovetailing into each other.” As this new paradigm evolves, one of the challenges is employee engagement, developing and retaining “great people”, she adds. Madrigal and Lilly see a definite commercial benefit to accepting and addressing the complexities of the multi-stakeholder model.

“We use the net promoter score, which is factored around loyalty. We focus first on making sure that we provide excellent leadership to our employees, we engage with HCPs, we try to create an unparalleled customer experience, and if we do those three things really well then, we believe the results will come. Many companies start with the results and work backwards from there, but that’s not the model we use here in Japan. We call this the service value chain—it is the right thing to do.”

Lilly’s systems have undergone “tremendous” change as roles begin to meld and overlap, he adds. “We had to build a new platform and strengthen our core functions but also move from just the IT functions to customer analytics teams. Without good data flow and reliable information systems none of this can really work. We need to really focus on multichannel engagement and put experts in place that really understand the values of each channels, the channels that are effective for particular kinds of products. We also need to bring our medical affairs group on board because, historically, technology and IT has not been their priority.

“Their priority has always been about the quality of science and medical information but now they are becoming much more in tune.” Brand teams have had to adapt to these new channels, perhaps most significantly; “While the sales force is still the biggest and the most important channel, other channels are becoming increasingly important and we have got to get the sales organization to play more of a coordinator role, learning how to leverage and empower these different resources, rather than being the primary actor themselves.”

At Bayer, the development of cross-functional teams has allowed the classical structure to stay largely in place but become much more integrated, Guth explains. “We today still have a functional organization with the traditional functions, but we have layered across that a very strong focus on cross-functional teams that have true and genuine accountability. These, in many ways, supersede the traditional organizational structure and work to bring together market access, medical, commercial, and patient advocacy, among others, to really reflect the different stakeholder groups and their interests, needs and expectations, in not only the strategy development but also more importantly in subsequent execution.”

Integration is also a key priority at GSK, according to Gilhuys. This is part and parcel of recognizing the differing needs of the main stakeholders and working to serve them equally.

“We are going through quite a big change not just from a multi-stakeholder perspective, but also from a ‘multiple options to engage with stakeholders’ perspective. We need to bring back the marketer as the conductor of the orchestra, working very closely together with different functions who are specialists in different areas.”

Connecting the patient journey with the HCP journey is the key to understanding what patients need and want, and what pharma can give them, adds Gilhuys. “We have clearly identified that we are reaching patients through HCPs and nurses so that means that these people are a primary point of contact for us, but we also want to reach the patients themselves.”

This allows for consistency across stakeholder engagements and customer experience, he adds. Despite the complexity of the model, providing value to patients is the common denominator across the different stakeholders. “Adding value to patients is continually our main aim and that is where we try to understand better and better the position of the other stakeholders, so we can work closely with them to do just that. It is about partnering with the other players in the healthcare system in order to eliver value for patients.”

What emerges is that all companies need to adopt a truly multi-stakeholder approach as the basis of their commercial models. Balancing stakeholders across payers, patients and physicians will lead the way towards an integrated multi-stakeholder approach. This collaboration is essential for the industry ecosystem to thrive.

Ball balance

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Written by hsandm

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