COVID-19’s Impact on Market Access

While the impact of COVID-19 on the medtech industry is not yet fully known, the pandemic has already had long-term effects on market access. The creative solutions that medtech companies are implementing now – in terms of speed and efficiency, collaboration, and methods of data collection and analytics to rapidly serve critical healthcare needs – will become the new norm and real world evidence will see heightened value.

Black & white headshot of Kate SulhamKate Sulham, TTi Senior Advisor in Health Economics and Market Access, answers some of your questions on the impact of COVID-19 on market access, and provides suggestions for continued success in a post-pandemic marketplace.

What will be the biggest change in the industry from COVID-19?

The single biggest change across the board post-pandemic will be speed. Compared to other industries, healthcare has been notoriously slow-moving, whether that’s in drug development, data collection and dissemination, or adopting new technologies. COVID-19 has changed all of that – we’re collecting and sharing near real-time data, companies are rapidly evolving and responding to new needs and methods of both development and engagement, and partners are reaching agreements with unheard of speed and efficiency. I believe this will become the new standard, particularly with data analytics. Gone are the days of taking years to publish data, or analyzing data from 3+ years ago – we’re going to have to really lean in to some of the more novel methods of data collection and analytics. “Real world data” has been a recent buzzword, but I think that will take on more importance than ever in light of this pandemic.

What is the most important thing companies should do right now to position themselves for the post-pandemic marketplace?

The most important thing current companies can do to best position themselves post-pandemic is to get a little uncomfortable. Challenge your current plans and assumptions, and think outside the box. We can all get comfortable with doing things the way they’ve always been done, following the path of other successful endeavors. I think this is a time to be creative, open to new ideas and solutions, and challenge our assumptions around what we’re “supposed” to do throughout the product lifecycle. There are both time- and cost efficiencies to be gained leveraging the right technology – think real-time predictive analytics to identify potential patients before they’re even diagnosed; leveraging EHR systems as registries; applying digital marketing strategies to medical information – there are a lot of really exciting possibilities and strategies coming to light, and I think the most successful companies will be those that embrace this time of change and challenge.

What is the most interesting thing you have seen companies do to innovate or evolve during this crisis?

The best thing I’ve seen come out of this crisis is collaboration. Internal collaboration – breaking down barriers between medical and commercial, compliance and regulatory – and external collaboration – new (and sometimes surprising!) partners, ongoing regulatory flexibility. It’s sometimes easier, and almost a reflex, to say “no,” err on the side of caution, and maintain silos. Here, I’m seeing a real effort to reach over the fence and find appropriate and compliant ways to share information and streamline efforts.

One example might be creating medical information portals – traditionally, a health care provider would have to meet with a sales rep, request information, fill out a form, and wait for a response while the internal team collates data and information, follows the compliance review process, etc. Now, especially since no one can really meet with clinicians (never mind have multiple touch points!), there’s the potential to log in to a portal with a provider ID and search for available (compliant, approved) information, eliminating both the “middle man” and the time lag to accessing information. Innovators may also be using machine learning technology to support their internal teams in rapidly responding to new medical information requests.

This requires a lot of teamwork integrating sales, medical, legal and compliance teams to execute. I believe that this somewhat “forced” collaboration will break down a lot of barriers and change the way companies collaborate moving forward. 

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