Effective managed care marketing strategies for an evolving market
As managed care expands in the United States, few prescribed therapeutics today are purchased completely out-of-pocket. Rather, most are covered, at least in part, by a third-party payer, such as a traditional managed care organization (MCO) or government entity.
Even so, the pharmaceutical industry continues to allocate minimal marketing resources and attention toward traditional managed care.
Given the growing influence of payers over prescribing choices, a well-designed marketing strategy to gain immediate product success and long-term brand legacy should give equal weight to managed care outreach as it does to other audiences.
Seamless incorporation of managed care into brand strategy should begin well before the product is on the market.
Prior to launch, the brand team typically lays out the marketing plan, tests messages and solidifies final direction for the brand. Meanwhile, medical affairs preps the medical community – through various unbranded channels – on the disease state, problems with current treatments and the need for a new therapeutic.
“Seamless incorporation of managed care into brand strategy should begin well before the product is on the market.”
Coordinating managed care strategy with marketing and medical affairs planning can assure that payers receive information on the disease state, problems with current therapy, and cost issues. By working in tandem with the medical affairs team, managed care marketing can utilize similar or even identical unbranded educational messaging, while tweaking the specific content to fit the payer customer.
Sharing product and cost information with MCOs is important for all therapeutics, but is especially critical for niche treatments or those used in smaller disease states. In these instances, the therapeutic may not undergo a full audit at an MCO, and the MCO may not fully calculate the total treatment spend for medical and pharmacy. Identifying how a new therapeutic may reduce overall treatment cost, while also addressing a medical deficiency, is an effective way to introduce a new product to the market.
Launch: message synergy
As the brand moves toward launch, continued partnering and synergy with the brand team is imperative for both managed care and brand. Such coordination should involve key messaging, brand imagery, the overall value proposition, as well as the strategy for outreach to payers.
Simply supplying a managed-care account executive with a pricing model, sales visual aid, product information sheet and a PowerPoint deck will not give a company the access they need to attain a brand goal. MCOs are limiting account executive access, and overall cost is more important than relationships in payer decisions, particularly in crowded therapeutic categories or where generic alternatives are available.
As a consequence, a multi-channel approach for reaching the key players in an MCO will give a brand the extra touches necessary to convey brand messages and ensure the pricing model is fully understood.
“Simply supplying a managed-care account executive with a pricing model, sales visual aid, product information sheet, and a PowerPoint deck will not give a company the access they need to attain a brand goal.”
The multi-channel approach
A managed care multi-channel campaign will consist of a series of coordinated efforts, beginning with the initial account manager meeting with a targeted MCO. At that session, the account manager will use a complete set of tools to discuss the message and information around the brand and then transition to the value proposition and pricing model.
After the initial meeting, follow-up is critical for brand success. The following steps outline a successful multi-channel approach targeting MCOs:
• A direct-mail piece from the account executive to the MCO is sent following the initial meeting. Personalization is key, so the direct-mail piece should recap the specific interaction with that MCO.
• The direct-mail piece also includes a call to action, which sends the recipient to an informational web page on the product specifically designed for the managed care customer. From this site, the MCO can access much of the information presented in the first meeting.
• Once it has been confirmed that the MCO viewed or visited the site, an automatic reply is sent, as well.
Meanwhile, communication with local physicians should coordinate with MCO outreach, highlighting access and availability of a therapeutic through a particular MCO.
“Field sales materials should focus on access at the local level and be targeted to those physicians who specifically interact with the highlighted MCO”
Here again, personalization is important. Field sales materials should focus on access at the local level and be targeted to those physicians who specifically interact with the highlighted MCO. Reaching out to practitioners who do not accept patients from a particular insurer about that insurer’s prescription coverage is a waste of valuable time and resources.
Integration: backbone of launch marketing
Due to the inherent control payers have on the success and availability of pharmaceuticals, managed care marketing must form the backbone of the initial marketing strategy for a brand.
Personal contact with the MCO, direct mail follow-up, integrated brand information, and managed care web initiatives that are coordinated with field sales efforts bring a full range of channels into play as companies seek to successfully launch or market a brand in today’s market.
About the author:
Eric Boothe is Director of Business Development, Life Science Division, EarthColor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are sufficient marketing resources allocated to managed care outreach?