Market access

The backbone of the payer’s omnichannel engagement

Adopting digital channels for patient and healthcare provider engagement (HCP) has been a growing priority for global and U.S. brand teams for years. Engaging digital payers was largely an afterthought, even though accessing payers audiences has never been easy.

With Covid, we have seen an increase in interest from global and U.S. market access teams for an omnichannel approach that incorporates non-personal and digital strategies and tactics into pharmacy payers’ engagement plans.

This change is a logical response to the changing dynamics of payers and the presence of new channel options to target, reach and engage the payor audiences that we have refined at The Stem.

Virtual engagement

Research we commissioned in 2019 (pre-Covid) demonstrated that payers in all markets use a range of digital news sources to support their decision-making and keep abreast of medical news.1. They spend about half of their day doing digital activities, including emailing, researching online, or using apps. And they value Pharma’s value-added information and tools. In short, Payers wanted a more multi-channel approach to Pharma long before Covid but weren’t getting it.

Covid only increased payers’ demand for virtual interactions by limiting the physical access Market Access account teams had with their customers. This has accelerated the need for teams to skillfully use digital content and channels, both virtual and non-personal face-to-face, to expand the reach and frequency of interactions.

Focus on value and results

Pay marketing has evolved from a simple cost negotiation to a conversation around value – cost savings to the healthcare system coupled with additional clinical benefits and better health outcomes. The pressure to demonstrate value and profitability has only increased in response to consolidation of payers, scrutiny of costs by the public and government, and increasing product competition. This has prompted paid marketers to deliver value-added content and tools (branded and unbranded content) to differentiate a brand’s value proposition.

Various customer segments

With the focus extending beyond price to value and results, paying marketers must now consider the needs and priorities of distinct stakeholders, including price-driven decision making, value and results, through pharmacy benefit managers and insurance companies, health systems, physician networks, advocacy groups and government agencies. Once these distinct segments are understood, the content interactions can be tailored accordingly.

Omnichannel approaches that communicate a story of product value for health technology assessments (HTAs) must consider new and emerging metrics, parameters, and methodologies to assess additional product benefits. Budgetary impact is a priority for national, regional and local payers.

Digital Payor Engagement Opportunities

The implication of these market dynamics is that market access marketers / payers need to move away from the traditional approach of presenting decks of value propositions to payers in face-to-face meetings. More sophisticated omnichannel that provides cost, value and results information in various formats. The value story can be personalized and tailored to distinct customer groups, through a variety of different, but integrated personal and non-personal channels. The impact of this development will be a richer “pull and push” engagement with key decision makers at relevant points in their journey which can be measured in terms of reach, engagement and prospects. and finally the business results.

Evolution of payers’ commitment

Execution considerations

As market access teams embark on the pivot of omnichannel customer engagement, here are some tips to consider based on our experience in developing innovative omnichannel strategies for market access teams. global and American market.

Design customer-centric content

Market Access teams can learn important lessons from the experience of sales representatives during Covid on how to engage customers in a virtual environment.

One of the main lessons is that virtual engagement requires valuable “customer-centric” content to capture the customer’s attention, otherwise customers will choose not to engage. The conversation should start with content tailored to the customer’s priorities, and the channels should be tailored to that narrative.

Think in terms of the customer engagement funnel, rather than one-off F2F interactions

Use one channel to direct paying customers to another channel that builds engagement and personalization. It can take different forms. For example, use anonymous, non-personal digital channels to get customers to register for face-to-face virtual events where they can be identified. Then use these events to open the door for an interaction with the Account Manager, and follow that interaction with a personalized email or F2F digital contact. Measure customer reach, engagement, leads, and behavior change throughout the funnel.

Vary content formats and create tools

Beyond simple presentations, experiment with a variety of interactive formats to deliver a cohesive and compelling storytelling and appeal to different learning styles. Effective content formats to consider for paid marketing include videos that bring results and value messages to life through the voices of vendor and patient influencers, infographics that simply tell a complex value story, and the curation and abstracts of journal reprints. Another very effective interaction format is interactive costing tools tailored to the settings of each institution. Finally, content on company-sponsored digital health services, whether digital therapies (medical devices) or beyond support programs for patients on the pill or healthcare professionals, may be highly effective in building brand value and results, demonstrating the link between product, digital health service and patient outcomes.

Take advantage of new, highly targeted non-personal channels

We have found LinkedIn and Google to be effective tools for targeting payers and HTA audiences with content, not only in the US but globally as well.2. Content discovery engines like TrendMD can have an impact on promoting journal content in relevant contextual contexts. Retargeting companies can reach paying decision makers by mapping the IP address of computers to the physical location of institutions. Mailing list providers, industry conferences, corporations, and journals can help reach specific paying job titles. Webinars are well suited for deepening education. Product information can be provided through portals such as Xcenda and Formularydecisions.com3. These are just a sample of the available channel options.


While payers marketing has historically lagged behind healthcare providers and patient marketing in embracing omnichannel customer engagement, this is changing due to Covid, changes in industry dynamics. and customers, the behavior of digital payers and the growth of relevant digital channels. To maximize success, market access teams should aim to develop a “customer-centric” content plan that is aligned with the various priorities of customer segments for cost, value and results. This content should be presented in a variety of immersive formats aligned with the customer, message, and channel. To maximize reach and engagement, content needs to be orchestrated across all channels, with the goal of passing the customer through an engagement funnel to educate and inform their decision making.

Gregg Fisher, Managing Partner, The Stem | [email protected]

1 The referenced study is owned by customers, but evidence of this change has been documented in the public domain since 2017. For example, see this report: -access- face-to-digital-disruption-study-of-finds /.

2 Experience from the 2020 Global Unbranded Payor Engagement Campaign.


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