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A new role for pharma

A new role for pharma


The rise of a more patient-centric, value-based healthcare environment gives the pharmaceutical industry a chance to find a new role and take a new seat at the table, says Gérard Klop of Vintura Consultancy.
  • Author Company: Vintura Consultancy
  • Author Name: Gérard Klop
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Editor: PharmiWeb Editor Last Updated: 09-May-2022

The party’s over for traditional models of healthcare delivery. As populations continue to age and develop comorbidities, all players in the healthcare sector need to plan a more holistic approach to healthcare that involves issues such as wellness, pre-emptive interventions, and earlier targeting and tracking.

Although daunting, this also gives the pharma industry an opportunity to establish a new role for itself. The major players are well aware that the days of simply supplying pills are over. Pharmaceutical organisations need to become more deeply embedded in delivering and monitoring patient outcomes in order to reposition themselves as trusted healthcare partners to other industry players.

The cycle of developing and patenting blockbuster drugs and maximising sales before they fall into the hands of generics manufacturers is coming to an end. As more-advanced, personalised and targeted therapeutics take over, pharma companies need to be able to justify the high prices of those treatments through closer real-world monitoring of their impact on patients.

Most leading pharma companies are well aware of this shift to value-based and value-managed healthcare and many have already started to nurture new types of partnership with hospitals and physicians, sowing the seeds for a more collaborative, embedded and value-based role.

However, building this new role will take time and for pharma to assume its role as a trusted partner, it must first identify what it is bringing to the table. There must be long-term engagement at different levels in the healthcare system, from physicians up to national authorities, to reshape the pharma role and prepare healthcare ecosystems for upcoming innovation.

Pharma companies have a special skillset to offer. Compared to physicians who are delivering care in the here and now, pharma companies are ahead of the curve in their scientific knowledge and have deep research and valuable clinical development-based insights they can share. As proficient collators and analysers of data, meanwhile, pharma could help to transform the monitoring and reporting of outcomes, by providing advice on shared access to appropriate IT infrastructure and making it easier for clinicians to capture data more routinely and consistently.

Involve the C-suite

While it might be tempting for pharma companies to send ‘advisors’ into hospitals to establish individual projects linked to a particular treatment with a view to accelerating progress, this kind of piecemeal approach risks driving up costs without achieving a critical mass and, more crucially, without driving an overarching strategy.

Meaningful transformation requires conscious C-level reflection on the kind of role pharma companies want to play in the future, which in turn will be informed by their primary areas of therapeutic focus to which they are committed for the long term. It is only by aligning future decisions with this vision and focus, and building therapeutic leadership and a differentiated company brand, that pharma companies will be able to justify the status of ‘trusted partners’ to physicians, and reduce their exposure to patent expiry/revenue loss.

A change of mindset

There will inevitably be consequences from pharma’s new role. As well as adopting a different mind-set, the shift from selling products to becoming more intrinsically involved in patient care requires that pharma companies develop new ways of measuring their own strategic progress, rather than continuing to rely on new and repeat product sales and short-term gains in market share.

Greater involvement in the care pathway, for example, will give pharma teams a chance to capture new insights into the impact of their therapies. Working more closely with care providers will also help to create fertile ground for the given therapeutic area and the way that associated and innovative care is delivered. These are conversations that drug sales reps are not equipped to have at the present time, so companies will need to factor in adjustments to their core capabilities.

A gradual change

Pharma’s reinvention will be gradual and at present it makes sense for companies to concentrate on shaping the environment and forging sustainable and strategic healthcare partnerships ahead of the launch of more advanced therapies.

Here, progress is likely to follow three stages. First, via a ‘Traditional +’ model, companies can prepare market access, introducing the new therapy and its value story. Then it can pave the way for associated care to be delivered in partnership with healthcare providers, facilitating the adoption of innovation. Finally, to maximise long-term sustainability, companies should be looking to shape the healthcare system itself.

Long-term strategies must start with the current products that companies offer and focus on therapeutic areas of importance. These will help define the new role that each company could play in a more integrated healthcare ecosystem. The required transformation might seem daunting right now, but it could pave the way for taking a trusted partner role in a more integrated, patient-centric healthcare market.

About the author

Gérard Klop is a partner at Vintura Consultancy, which provides strategy consultancy to pharma and healthcare providers embracing transformation. Gérard has been a strategy consultant to the pharma and medical device sectors for two decades, and has written books on value-based and value-managed healthcare (VBHC and VMHC). Vintura, based in the Netherlands, Germany, France and the UK, is a recognised expert in VBHC and VMHC, and is specialised in strategy consultancy services targeted at both life sciences and healthcare providers.