As recently as five short years ago, a pharmaceutical manufacturer could develop a good product, do everything right as it pertained to the needs of both patients and healthcare professionals, and launch it successfully into the world without major worry about the product being covered by insurance or afforded by patients.

Those times are gone. Long gone.

In today’s healthcare environment, the launchers of any product, line extension or reformulation need to think about how that product will bring value beyond its efficacy and safety. Payers need to evaluate your product’s value and impact in terms of thousands or even millions of patients or members, not just one. As defined here, value often means how your product might improve outcomes in ways that result in savings somewhere else in the healthcare continuum.

Based on our experience at GSW across multiple brands, disease states, and pharmaceutical clients both large and small, we know this: the more integrated the effort between the commercial/brand and payer teams, the better the value story that can be created. Here are a few ways:

  1. Value needs to be real, documented and built into R&D. The first and maybe the hardest step for many companies is to break down the silos between R&D, marketing, and payer groups within their own walls to ensure that the “value” of a given product is considered as it is developed. Whether it’s building health outcomes studies into product development plans or even getting a payer perspective on the viability of product candidates – just thinking about how you might position a product in front of payer may influence how or even if you bring that product to market.
  2. Payers and population-based decision makers need to be included as a target audience in an integrated marketing plan. Brand teams can no longer afford to think of payers and other population-based decision makers as someone else’s responsibility. This audience may very well be the key to your brand’s success – or its limitations. Brand objectives and key performance indicators should be included for payer attitudes/beliefs, optimal formulary coverage, limited restrictions, affordability for patients, etc., all the while ensuring a profitable end game. Brand equity studies need to include payer attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. It’s not enough to move physicians to prescribe if a patient can’t obtain or afford the medication.
  3. Communications should be integrated and consistent in one brand voice. The lines are often blurred between an HCP’s role in patient care and their role as a population-based decision maker, potentially sitting on a P&T committee. One customer can wear multiple hats, so it is important that your brand’s voice, look and feel, and key clinical messages are unified and communicated consistently across the board. Achieving a consistent brand presence takes brand and payer teams talking with each other and connecting their agency partners on an ongoing basis. Even taking that a step further: When was the last time your advertising agency included the payer audience in a creative brief for a new campaign? Opportunities exist for an integrated presence at the campaign level down to the tactical level.

In an increasingly competitive and complex marketplace, integrating commercial/brand and payer team work streams is critical to the success of your brand through product development, strategic marketing planning, and even campaign and tactical execution.

About the Author:

Beth Schieber is a senior vice president/group account director at GSW, a Syneos Health™ company and an industry leader in healthcare advertising. Beth brings her more than 30 years of experience to GSW, where she leads GSW’s payer and integrated health practice as well as several integrated client accounts.