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Interview with Daniel Viriato, Health Economics and Outcomes Research Specialist at Novartis Portugal

First of all, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Can you tell us a bit about your role at Novartis?

I’m a Pharmacist, with a post-graduation in biostatistics. I’m currently working at Novartis as Health Economics and Outcomes Research Specialist. My main responsibilities are to ensure the best adoption of our products using the best available evidence based on economic data and health outcomes. Apart from that, we also try to find innovative solutions to support the added value of our medicines, in order to fulfill the market needs.

How long have you been using BaseCase for?

We have been using BaseCase since 2012. So far we have developed six tools. In my opinion it’s the perfect match between an Excel spreadsheet and an interactive PowerPoint. We are using this as a platform to deliver our value communication.

One of the main focuses of health economics and outcomes research is generating clinical and economic evidence to support the value demonstration of medicines to stakeholders. So it’s relevant to have a platform that allows you to build simple and comprehensive messaging in order to deliver it in a very straightforward way. That’s where the value of BaseCase lies.

Are these tools for the Portuguese market only or is there a wider market?

Our tools were developed locally. The process begins with the identification of a local unmet need for which we try to find a solution. However, some of our tools are flexible enough to be adapted by other countries to their situation.

Do you develop the apps in Portuguese?

First we develop the apps in English, and then we translate to Portuguese in order to use it in our local market.

Were you involved in the original decision to start using BaseCase?

I was involved in the early development of BaseCase tools within Novartis. Portugal was one of the first countries in developing this tailored approach to demonstrate value in an innovative way.

Was there a particular business need or motivation behind the adoption of BaseCase?

The economic crisis and the budget restrictions faced by payers and healthcare providers were the main motivations in developing this innovative approach. However, to succeed, these tools should be built upon strong evidence. Moreover, it’s important to find a platform that allows you to transform complex economic models into simple messages.

So it allows commercial teams without a background in health economics to use this kind of complex evidence?

We try to adapt our strategy according to the goal of each project - not only commercial teams are working with the apps. We are trying to convey the complexity of health outcomes and pharmacoeconomics in messages that could be easily delivered by users and understandable by stakeholders.

Is the commercial use of health economics more important these days?

It is becoming increasingly important, but it depends on the context. For example, if we are applying a cost effectiveness model in a local setting, it may not fit their needs as we are talking about local decision-making while cost effectiveness models are mainly used to estimate impacts at a national level to support reimbursement. However, these tools should be able to deliver tailored messaging and estimate meaningful impacts in payers’ local settings, bringing them solutions.

In general, we notice that most of the stakeholders are becoming interested in pharmacoeconomics, pricing and reimbursement, since they are directly impacted by it.

Can you say anything about your experience using the platform?

I think the learning curve is pretty fast. It’s very similar to a PowerPoint. The key question is: what kind of data should we use? We must be able to synthesize the evidence and build a value story that fits our goal. A background in statistics, epidemiology and health economics is crucial to achieve this. BaseCase is a platform that allows you to build the message, but if you don’t have a strong rationale, it won’t solve your problem.

Are your apps typically used on a tablet device?

Yes, we are using iPads most of the time, but also laptops.

Have you had any feedback from the users?

The feedback has been very positive, generally. One important point is that, in the pharma industry as in other industries, cross-sectional collaborations are key for success. So we try to engage all teams - medical, marketing, commercial, from the beginning right up to the launch.

This way we can ensure that the tool will meet the market need. Customer-facing teams bring us the knowledge from the field and the stakeholders, while we develop a model that addresses their feedback, so the value story fits their needs.

Do you have any future projects coming up that you are planning for BaseCase?

Yes, we are developing new tools, while we update and leverage those that have already been launched, using BaseCase as a strategic partner in value demonstration.

And how have you found working with the BaseCase team?

It has been a very positive experience. The team has a prompt response, with high quality deliverables and always ready to support.

Do you have any final comments?

I really think this kind of innovative approach will take a key role in value demonstration, by making it simpler, interactive and attractive. However, at the end of the day it comes down to a robust value story supported by the best available evidence that applies to stakeholders, by providing them solutions.