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Blog

05.12.2021

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David Robinson, Partner and Bryan Tyo, Senior Consultant

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Collaboration – A Key Component to the Long-term Success of Your Buy & Bill Launch Strategy

“Communication between your patient services teams, channel teams, sales and field reimbursement teams and commercial field team leadership when strategies are being developed can help prevent issues, form strong working relationships, and avoid confusion in the HCPs office at launch.

It has long been our observation that when clients are developing their launch services strategies for buy-and-bill (B&B) products, it is not typical for them to include their commercial sales, marketing and reimbursement teams in the process. Including these key commercial teams and obtaining their input and buy-in early can help ensure you have the collaboration needed for the long-term success of your launch plan. Taking this step is even more important when there are multiple field teams involved.

 

Engaging with the teams who are ultimately responsible for implementing your strategies can have many positive impacts. It is important to clarify roles, ensure against redundancies and avoid any contradictory actions or activities. By doing this, you can prevent numerous field personnel, representing the same brand with potentially conflicting messages, all competing for the attention of a very busy healthcare provider (HCP). In this blog, we would like to share some best practices we think any GM, VP, or Director of Marketing, Sales, Market Access or Reimbursement would be wise to consider when creating their product support launch strategies.

 

Having a team-oriented global view is one key to success.

 

The launch is on the horizon and you think you have covered it all. You are developing your trade and channel strategies and your Patient Support Program (PSP) – both of which are critical to the long-term success of your brand.

 

But what about the unidentified needs that may be hiding below the surface, such as the needs of the people from the key commercial teams. Has consideration been given to how they will work together and how materials, created for each team, are integrated to ensure consistent and impactful messages that provide long-lasting synergies for success? How can you guard against each team retrenching into their respective silos or duplicating each other’s efforts? Looking at everything through a broad lens is critical in identifying and addressing both known and unknown needs.

 

Launching is one thing. Long-term success is completely different.

 

The launch is just one moment in time, and the strategies you implement and the decisions you make that help create a successful one are sometimes short-lived. Your brand and team’s long-term success is dependent on playing the long game. A large part of setting direction with field teams is critically thinking through how each team’s skills, efforts and materials provided by the company align, and how they complement each other throughout your brand’s lifecycle. Remember, your sales and reimbursement teams are competing with the teams of many other company’s field teams for a physician’s valuable time, so overall productivity goes down if you set their strategy, execution direction and materials up to compete with each other, now or in the future. In the end, a consistent coordinated message delivered by multiple teams, to the customers, has an ongoing positive impact that persists long after a launch has been executed. 

 

Define each role before anyone is hired.

 

Due to the nature of the reimbursement team and the sales team, while their metrics and activities are different, they share the same goal – getting the right medication to the patient when they need it. Sales teams share efficacy and safety data so physicians can decide what is right for a particular patient. And when your brand is chosen, your reimbursement team works to ensure the patient has access to it. A leader who wants to avoid internal confusion or redundancies should begin by asking all department leads to review the job descriptions for each department to develop a clear delineation of each role. Having a roundtable discussion on who owns each responsibility at this level will help form clearly defined expectations for the people filling the roles.

 

Field teams with defined swim lanes should be involved early and often.

 

Early involvement of the leadership of your commercial field team will provide critical and immediate feedback on how your product and the patient services the company plans to provide will impact your HCP, their staff and ultimately, their patients. Ensuring they are bought into what is being developed, early and often, allows you to tweak your strategies to reflect what is going on in the field. Failure to do so may result in missed opportunities.

 

It’s also imperative that coordination take place in the process of developing product services to determine how the teams will work together. Defining roles and responsibilities and coordinating the materials available to each team results in efficiencies and allows for active collaboration. Communication between your patient services teams, channel teams and commercial field team leadership when strategies are being developed can help prevent issues, form strong working relationships and avoid confusion in the HCPs office at launch.

 

We recently helped a client who was launching an injectable biologic for the very first time. Knowing that a biologic launch would involve reimbursement and field sales teams working with the PSP team and the trade team, it was important to define roles and responsibilities early. By defining what each team would be responsible for, the company was able to negate turf battles that can develop when you have multiple teams trying to capture a busy physician’s attention.

 

In today’s world, which has been further challenged by the restrictions on in-person calls due to the COVID pandemic, it is paramount these teams ensure collaboration and not competition and perform synergistically. A company will be more efficient and be seen as a valued resource to the HCP and their staff if you have planned out how the field teams will interact with the HCP and with each other.

 

Take risks if you want results.

 

After doing all the things we have suggested, a good commercial leader may realize it could be time to try something different. The biggest advice we can give at this point is to actually do it differently. To innovate and implement significant change, you must be willing to take calculated risks. This often means doing things in a way that you and your teams may have never done them before. That could be reducing instead of increasing the size of your teams, holding cross-department training or making rotations or shadowing mandatory for all roles. To make sure you are not repeating past mistakes, you have to make sure you aren’t repeating past training, procedures and ways of working that did not yield the results you were looking for. 

 

If you are looking for a biopharmaceutical consulting firm that will provide you with experienced and honest advice, then reach out to us at dr@protllc.com or bryan@protllc.com. For general inquiries about Protean’s services or experience, feel free to contact us at info@protllc.com.

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