As integrated delivery networks (IDNs) continue to grow in importance, Pharmas must identify the impact of IDNs on their business model and explore new communication strategies. But where should you start, and what do you need to focus on to be successful? Let’s explore what makes IDNs different than traditional models and how Pharmas can adapt with the changing landscape…
Because IDNs are expansive systems of providers, services, and sites of care that provide healthcare services and (in some cases) health insurance plans, they employ a “strength in numbers” approach focused on creating value — high quality care for lower costs. IDNs are focused on unique priorities compared to the traditional private practices and hospitals; and Pharma companies will need to adjust their strategy to accommodate this approach.
In an effort to influence the products a particular IDN prescribes, Pharma reps need to talk to the decision-makers influencers who choose and advocate for the products that will be available to HCPs within the network — but many IDNs restrict rep access to these influencers. Instead of calling on an HCP in an office or hospital setting, sales reps are increasingly working with hard-to-reach customers that are administrators such as purchasing executives, pharmacy and therapeutics (P&T) committee heads, or a group purchasing organization that buy on behalf of many HCPs.
“If you know one IDN, you know one IDN…”
But no two IDNs are exactly alike, which makes it challenging to develop an approach to properly engage with IDN customers. A few key distinctions between IDNs include:
- It’s not a one-size-fits-all model. IDNs will vary in size, specialty, patient population, and more.
- There’s no consistent definition of integrated care. Decision-making structures and coordination of efforts across the network can vary greatly.
- IDNs are struggling for differentiation. Despite all their differences, IDNs are seeking competitive value and differentiation – but many are still trying to identify their niche.
- Drug price isn’t the only cost that matters. Cost models go beyond the price of medication, as IDNs look to holistic and results-focused costs of care (e.g., readmission rates, patient satisfaction scores, etc.)
- Some IDNs incorporate payers or trump payers. These IDNs represent the biggest opportunity to get product on formulary.
So what does this mean for Pharma?
Opportunity for Pharmas
It’s time for Pharmas to go beyond the drug. IDN decision-makers are looking for partnerships that support improved outcomes and cost efficiencies, and are willing to engage when Pharmas:
- Focus on the burden of a disease state, rather than just one treatment option
- Connect them with key opinion leaders who can educate on therapeutic areas
- Understand the patients in their network, and provide resources that help those patients and the network
- Communicate quantifiable value and focus on the business and larger clinical impact of therapy, highlighting reductions in readmission rates, patient-reported outcomes, or real-world evidence
With these needs and interests in mind, Pharmas should consider an approach that is as unique as the IDNs themselves and shift from a traditional HCP sales model to a productive and insight-based, ongoing partnership:
- Identify and understand the decision-makers — clinicians, administrators, or both
- Arm decision-makers with the most compelling disease state and treatment information that encourages them to get your product included for consideration with P&T committees
- Develop an above-brand story that aligns to the customers’ needs, focusing on business and larger clinical impact
- Create an ecosystem of touchpoints that supports partnership versus sales, such as value-based care presentations, cost-savings models, and key opinion leader outreach
Understanding the IDN landscape and what makes the model unique allows Pharmas to identify new customers and opportunities. It’s critical for Pharmas to also understand how it impacts the sales model and consider how to reach and engage these customers. The result is a relationship between IDN partners and Pharmas focused on providing therapeutic area expertise and value-based healthcare opportunities.