Success factors in value communication design – introduction

Gijs Hubben presents an introduction to ‘Success factors in value communication design’, a set of articles that will examine the key success factors in creating customer engagement tools that effectively communicate the clinical and economic benefits of pharmaceuticals, devices and diagnostics.

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 the 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.

“Scientists often aren’t aware of how to effectively communicate in a commercial context and some simply have no interest in it.”

So, these spreadsheets are too complex to be used by 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 repurposed for regional use. The national bodies have the expertise to deal with complex models. Key account managers and regional payers typically do not.

In addition, models are typically developed by scientists that have little connection to the commercial side of the business. They may even frown upon the suggestion that their work will be used commercially. Scientists often aren’t aware of how to effectively communicate in a commercial context and 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.

Despite the difficulties, pharma cannot ignore a major shift towards more economic purchasing in the healthcare industry simply because of push back from 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.

“…those companies that are most effective at communicating the value of their technology will succeed in the marketplace.”


Mobile, cloud-based technologies offer a potential solution to this problem. 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.

But 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 of the key success factors in value communication design based on our experience of implementing dozens of value communication tools for pharma and devices companies over the past years. Look out for part 1 of the series – ‘Start with the key message’ – to be published soon.

The next article in this series ‘Success factors in value communication design – start with the key message’ can be viewed here.



About the author:

Gijs Hubben is a health economist and one of the founders of BaseCase. He has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals, including on the cost-effectiveness of infectious disease interventions, and screening strategies for hospital acquired infections. With a strong background in pharmacy, health economics and emerging technologies, Gijs’s understanding of the intersection of these disciplines lies behind the unique service offered by BaseCase.

What are the key success factors in value communication?