The increasingly influential role of clinical pharmacists in the evolving new healthcare market represents an opportunity for pharmaceutical marketers. At the same time, to take advantage of this opportunity, pharmaceutical marketers will need to redesign their commercialization strategies and tactics. Clinical pharmacists are not going to be receptive to traditional marketing and sales tactics.
Pharmaceutical marketers who lack sophistication and try to merely enroll clinical pharmacists as their sales advocates will be woefully disappointed. Clinical pharmacists are well educated, well informed, and very analytical when it comes to evaluating therapeutic treatment options. They have an insatiable need for clinical data to support not only efficacy and safety but also the value proposition for a product.
Pharmaceutical marketers should spend some time understanding the different roles clinical pharmacists might play in the evolving healthcare system and better determine the information needs and evaluation criteria used for assessing products in therapeutic categories that pertain to their marketed products. More importantly, pharmaceutical marketers should understand the best ways for packaging and presenting their product information so as to assist clinical pharmacists with their product evaluations, presentations, and fulfilling their clinical responsibilities.
Assuming you have a high demand product that fills a significant unmet medical need, clinical pharmacists can play a critical role in making sure your product is available in their healthcare system, is a part of treatment guidelines and highlighted in any e-prescribing support systems they use to encourage appropriate use. They can facilitate educational programs for physicians and patients to ensure that the right patients are considered for your product, are aware of any potential safety issues, and reinforce the value of your product relative to other therapeutic options. Clinical pharmacists are also well qualified to be clinical care coordinators in Accountable Care Organizations, and are organizationally well positioned to ensure patient compliance and adherence while monitoring and tracking the financial benefits derived from appropriate use of the product.
So tactically, what does this mean for pharmaceutical marketers? Here are some things to consider. Who will be making your product presentations to ensure product inclusion on formularies and securing reimbursement? Do they have the credibility and training necessary to discuss the clinical data and value proposition (e.g., outcomes and quality metric implications) without having to refer questions to the company Medical Affairs department? Do you have a user-friendly, comprehensive product dossiers with any efficacy, safety, or value claims (including outcomes and quality metric implications) supported by published clinical data? Can you provide clinical trial designs and templates for doing comparative efficacy trials for your product? Can you customized your healthcare provider and patient education materials for specific healthcare systems? Are you ready with electronic medical records integration technology and patient care support apps for mobile devices (think e-prescribing and adherence support)? Can you help with customized electronic models for tracking and analyzing improvement in outcomes and quality metrics consistent with the healthcare provider system goals and objectives?
Reception of these tactics will depend on the healthcare provider system and the clinical pharmacists but also the quality and value of the products and tactics being made available. The key is for pharmaceutical marketing to align with and embrace the needs of clinical pharmacists and find ways to help healthcare provider systems accomplish their goals and objectives in this evolving new healthcare market. Pharmaceutical marketers who figure this out can create a significant competitive advantage and enhance revenue growth, assuming they have the innovative products, the data to support their claims, and tactics that are supportive and embraced by healthcare provider systems.