With the New Year underway, various media outlets and consulting firms are issuing reports outlining the healthcare trends for 2019.   The lists may vary, yet there are consistent themes throughout related to the following:

  • Mega-mergers across the healthcare industry with new and changing players forming unconventional and innovative partnerships and affiliations
  • Shifts in how and where care is delivered (including the continuing increase in technological innovation) with remote monitoring, increasing number and types of venues and new partnerships for outpatient settings offering more consumer friendly access
  • Demand for more transparency in healthcare costs by consumers, regulators, and payers
  • Scrutiny of drug pricing continues to be a high profile topic

Transformative change is underway in healthcare.  Field and access organizations must strengthen their professionals’ ability to create business and account plans to respond to these changes. As your organization begins to develop business and account plans for the year, it is important to keep these trends in mind and recognize that the impact varies by ecosystem, healthcare channel, and stakeholder.

The following considerations are important for life science organizations to bring to their business and strategic account planning efforts.

1. Start with a Healthcare Ecosystem or Marketplace Analysis. Every field based professional needs to understand their local marketplace and who the dominant players are relative to their company’s product portfolio.  Consider the following questions:

  • Who are the dominant Payers in the marketplace?
  • Which healthcare systems are influencing healthcare delivery practices in the market?
  • What State and/or Local laws impact access?
  • Are there any unique demographic and/or economic drivers that impact healthcare delivery?
  • What are the market drivers that would help your organization achieve its goals?
  • What are the marketplace factors that stand in the way of achieving goals?
  • What merger and acquisition activity is underway in your marketplace?

2. Consider therapeutic area priorities and brand goals:

  • What are the brand objectives and goals?
  • What does your organization want to accomplish within a geography or specific account?

3. Identify priority accounts and targets.  Each field professional must consider the importance and impact of their highest priority customers and the critical actions needed to achieve success:

  • Where is most of your business currently concentrated?
  • Are there accounts that have more potential going forward?
  • Are there accounts that require actions to “defend” current performance levels?
  • How do these priority accounts or stakeholders influence others in the marketplace?

4. Work with other customer-facing matrix team members to gather information and validate.  In large healthcare systems, it is not uncommon for various roles to be calling on different stakeholders within the account. For effective strategic account management, it is important that there are aligned and shared objectives and transparent information exchange across roles (while also maintaining all compliance requirements). Questions to consider include:

  • Who are your internal matrix team members and what are their priorities?
  • Where are or should there be shared priorities?
  • How can the team work together to share information and support relationship building across various customer stakeholders?
  • What ongoing collaboration and coordination meetings are needed to facilitate effective planning and execution?

5.  Create specific business and account plans:

  • What are the top three to five goals? Have you written them as SMART goals?
  • What are the specific actions and tactics that when implemented will achieve the goals?
  • What processes are in place for monitoring achievement of goals?
  • What are the requirements for compliant documentation of business / account plans?
  • What resources will be deployed to achieve goals?

Organizations who can effectively develop and execute business and account plans that reflect the changing marketplace have a greater chance of succeeding. It is critical to take the time to define a planning process and develop the business acumen and skills required to meet customer needs in this changing healthcare marketplace.

Wendy L. Heckelman, Ph.D.

Dr. Wendy Heckelman, president and founder of WLH Consulting, Inc. has over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 100 industry clients. These include pharmaceutical, biotech, health care, animal health medicines, and consumer products, as well as international non-profit organizations and growing entrepreneurial companies.

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