March 13, 2019

Reimagining. Reorganizing. Retooling.

Healthcare complexity is changing the future of field teams and reshaping the very nature of those teams.

Think about the environment our teams are working in today:

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It’s not too much to say that practices and physicians need our support more than they ever have. Support to sort through the complexities of both coverage and systems. To create great experiences for patients and their support networks. To advocate for them with critical stakeholders in healthcare systems and payer organizations.

Those customers need new support from the field force, too. Their organizations are changing rapidly to adopt different metrics, work in unfamiliar ways and onboard or upskill entirely new data-driven decisionmakers. In those systems, field partners play critical roles in medical education, system connectivity and fueling a feedback loop from their customer base.

In short, over the next two years, our industry’s teams will continue to dynamically evolve.

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This is a new era for our teams. One filled with the potential to support customers in innovative ways and engage talent in highly fulfilling careers and partnerships. But we must plan for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

In this report, you’ll find eight levers of that change and examples of the questions and experiments we’re piloting to deliver what this next era demands.

Methodology

Our industry is overwhelmed with data. The latest numbers on market sizing, comparative access and field team effectiveness are just a Google search away. It’s all part of a spinning galaxy of data that’s increasing the pressure on time and resources that nearly every life science commercial leader is feeling. And, yet—armed with every imaginable number—too many of those healthcare leaders are still struggling with gaining strategic traction.

The possibilities for action and investment are great, but the clarity around how to move forward is not.

What our teams need more of isn’t graphs and numbers. It’s decision-driving insights.

So, we built this report differently. We engaged more than a hundred experts who work on the frontlines of healthcare commercialization to capture the evidence and experience they’re gathering on the development of bold, industry-changing healthcare stakeholder engagement.

These experts are steeped in the data. They have to be. It’s the expectation in today’s marketplace of innovation and ideas. But in this report, they take us beyond the numbers to major shifts in expectations, new possibilities for field teams, and a model for change our industry is on the cusp of embracing.

Table of Contents

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Content 

1. The Hero Problem-Solver

The challenges in today’s healthcare system come down to one critical frustration: friction. The systems designed to ultimately make healthcare more coordinated, consistent and accountable make the everyday realities of patient care more difficult and complex. The No. 1 goal of the field force: reduce friction.

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2. The Updated Commercial Team

The shift in expectations for our teams has changed their composition. Today, we’re looking at an updated model and a varied bench of talent that include clinical educators, medical science liaisons, reimbursement and access managers, and traditional field representatives. This new model changes every aspect of the playbook from strategy to every-channel engagement.

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3. The Needed Nucleus

At the core of the most productive commercial teams is a contact center—or, increasingly, contact centers. These flexible teams trigger next interactions, manage inbound and outbound calls, and offer just-in-time operational support to front-office staff. The growth of call centers was spurred by the industry shift to specialty and rare disease treatments, but new customer accountabilities are driving the centers’ evolution and impact.

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4. Educating to Expert

Writing an effective prior authorization or medical statement of need is like writing a treatise on a pharmaceutical product. To do it effectively, practices have to be expert on the science, the right-fit patient profile, and the underlying evidence of real-world impact. That kind of fluency requires entirely new levels of medical education and advocacy.

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5. Tech-Fueled Field Engagement

The traditional work of the field force was made inefficient by chance. It leaned heavily on drive time with little ability to forecast availability, interest or relevance at any one stop. Today, technology is changing nearly every aspect of field roles and giving teams unparalleled transparency into when, where and how they’re needed most.

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6. Redeploying Regionally

The new commercial commitment is regional relevancy. Every aspect of content and context is being reconsidered through the lens of helping regional health systems and payers meet their metrics and measurements, while ensuring every practice and every patient gets the on-demand support they need.

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7. The Talent Shift

The field force that healthcare innovators are looking for today needs a renewed set of skills and competencies, such as flexible experts who will be trusted as partners, can think broadly about operations, and are personally dedicated to getting treatments into the hands of patients.

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8. New Metrics for New Impact

The days of counting calls are over. This era of measurement is focused on helping patient and practice have friction-free experiences. Every metric of performance will share the same intention: work together to help patient and practice reach their shared goals.

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