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Recapping our conversation on the Future of Market Access

June 8, 2022

The rise of scientific breakthroughs and innovative new technologies, spurred on by heavy investment during the COVID-19 pandemic, has drastically increased the pace of growth in medical technologies. Market access teams are challenged like never before to keep up with the pace of new product launches and acquisitions. Moreover, the acceleration of value-based care, shifting customer dynamics, regulatory challenges, and greater scrutiny on the cost versus benefits of innovative technologies have made the role of market access even more important to driving corporate growth.

This is where the conversation begins on our recent webinar on the future of market access. In case you missed the conversation, our Health Practice Leader Josh Coleman moderated a discussion on May 25th alongside Camille Grubbs, Senior Director of Market Access for Hologic, Suki Iyer, Director of Market Access for CareDx, Steve Kimball, National Account Manager of Exagen, and Matt Larson, Associate Director of Managed Care Marketing for Castle Biosciences, Inc.. Below  is a recap of what you missed. Click here to stream the full webinar video.

How the market access teams have evolved to meet the changes of recent years

While market access may have been more of an afterthought for some companies over the years, Camile Grubbs noted that market access has been evolving into a more integrated and strategic role of late.

“There’s been an incredible amount of growth in the past 10 to 15 years,” she said. “You have to understand the market you’re in and how your product fits into it now. It’s becoming an increasingly crowded marketplace, which makes it harder and harder to meet requirements.”

Because of that, companies need to avoid unnecessary pitfalls and have a thoughtful plan in place when it comes to gaining market access. It is now critical for companies to migrate market access into a strategic function.

It’s a ‘slower process’ now

Medicare has come out with policies recently aimed at increasing transparency when it comes to medical access. While well intentioned, these policies can add a great deal of time to the review process for companies.

“There’s a pipeline problem with filling roles, so everyone is competing for the same ones,” said Matt Larson.

Market access leaders need to constantly educate company leadership that it is a marathon, not a sprint. As Suki Iyer said, it typically takes a few years to get policy coverageShe iterated that “Slowly, leadership is starting to see this and view the market access team as a revenue generator.”

Some of the major hurdles in gaining market access

The panelists discussed some of the biggest challenges they’ve faced when it comes to market access and how they’ve been able to overcome them.

Steve Kimball noted that the pandemic changed a lot of the way market access teams do business. They realized how many things can be accomplished online.

In some ways, there’s more access to decision-makers. “We’re trying new, innovative ways to get their attention, trying to leverage opinion leaders to affect policy change,” Kimball noted. “Having really good clinical and economic information is key when presenting to a payer audience.”

He added that third-party support is often very beneficial. “Getting an outside agency to help create impactful clinical and economic presentations is vital. You need to illustrate how market access will help them and provide societal support.”

Oftentimes, companies are on the payer’s timeline when seeking market access. And “timing is everything” Kimball said. 

Iyer echoed Kimball’s sentiments about a shift in how to approach decision-makers.

“Prior to the pandemic, you could meet with decision-makers twice a year,” Iyer said. Now, it’s all about finding additional, creative ways to network and get in front of them. While attending conferences and finding advocates can still be valuable, the most important thing is to get the right materials in front of the right people at the right time.

How market access teams drive revenue growth

Product launches are no doubt a huge investment for companies. In reality, only a small percentage of products are successfully launched. According to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, there are over 30,000 new products introduced every year, and 95 percent fail.

Leadership has to have a “market access mindset from Day One,” according to Iyer.

“The launch team should include market access personnel,” Iyer said. To successfully gain market access, you need to understand the needs of patients, providers, and policy makers.

Grubbs added that you need to “over-communicate so people understand what you’re trying to do. It is critical there is trust between the sales team and market access personnel.”

“It takes a great  amount of internal branding for market access to work in collaboration with the organization”, Larson said.

The panelists agreed that it’s been a long journey to get leadership to see the value in market access. Some of that has been leadership in organizations living through enough failure from bringing the market access team in too late on a product launch. It’s important not to over promise when it comes to market access and availability, particularly in an era of increased regulation and longer time periods to secure it.

Opportunities for innovation

The panel closed out the conversation discussing opportunities for the industry to innovate. The key to beginning any conversation about innovation is to “find out what the goal is and be super clear and direct about it,” Larson said. You need to know specific details about how the industry fits in with payers, policy makers and employers.

Ultimately, market access is a “copycat league,” according to Larson “There’s a lot of power to harness from the companies we work together with,” he said. “You have to constantly keep reinventing the wheel.”

People are the most important part of access. Finding talented market access managers  to get new ideas in the space and offer fresh perspectives is crucial so that market access teams can continue to think outside the box moving forward.