This is the introduction to ‘Success Factors in Value Communication Design’, a series of articles that examine the key success factors in creating customer engagement tools that successfully communicate the clinical and economic benefits of pharmaceuticals, devices and diagnostics. These recommendations have been drawn from the experiences of Gijs Hubben, Founder and CEO of BaseCase.
How do you communicate the value of medical technology?
Increasing pressures on healthcare budgets have given economic arguments a central role in the market adoption of innovative technology. Manufacturers have started using spreadsheets to demonstrate economic and clinical value of their technology to a range of stakeholders. These spreadsheets combine different data sources and assumptions to quantify, for a particular budget holder or payer, what benefits the new technology will bring. Often the result is a mix of clinical outcomes translated into economic outcomes, based on ‘inputs’ that the customer provides.
Many companies have been disappointed with their initial attempts. When companies asked their key account managers to use such spreadsheets in customer interactions, adoption was very poor. Why? Because they didn’t see how it would help them. They were not comfortable presenting a complicated spreadsheet they didn’t fully understand. Can you blame them? No one wants to be confronted with a question they can’t answer and risk their credibility.
So, these spreadsheets are too complex to be used by the key account managers directly. It’s not a surprising result, really. Most models are initially developed for HTA bodies for national reimbursement, and are later re-purposed for regional use. The national bodies have the expertise to deal with complex models. Key account managers and regional payers do not.
Also, models are typically developed by scientists that have no relation to the commercial side of the business. They may even frown upon the suggestion that their work will be used in a commercial context. Scientists generally aren’t aware of how to effectively communicate; some simply have no interest in it. However, scientists who do, become world famous for it - like the ‘heroes’ of scientific communication, Richard Dawkins and Carl Sagan.
At BaseCase, we receive many supposedly ‘user-friendly’ spreadsheets that have been rejected by the commercial teams of pharmaceutical and device companies for being ‘too complex’. Frustration makes our clients wonder if their commercial staff should be communicating this type of information at all! But it would be dangerous to ignore a major shift towards more economic purchasing in the healthcare industry simply because of push back from the account managers. It’s sink or swim: those companies that are most effective at communicating the value of their technology will succeed in the marketplace.
So, should we be getting worried, is there a solution to this problem? Yes there is. In fact, getting the commercial guys on board is not difficult. If you can produce an intuitive presentation that visualizes the value for money of a new product with just a few clicks - the account managers will not hesitate to adopt it.
Creating such a deliverable is the real challenge - success depends on the right technology to provide ‘painless’ access to such tools, as well as on the way information is presented. Presenting quantitative information is an art as well as a science and it requires a multidisciplinary mindset. In this series of articles, we outline some key success factors in value communication design based on our experience of (re)implementing dozens of value communication tools for pharma and devices companies over the past years.
Success Factors in Value Communication Design: