Let the evidence show … Giving the right advice, to the right client, at the right time
Evidence gathering and knowledge about a product, and its likely success, adapt and change over the life cycle. Early on the focus is on safety, then later on efficacy, effectiveness and ultimately cost-effectiveness; however, even in the early stages it’s possible to tap into the expertise and expectations of key stakeholders to chart a product’s likely success, or to adjust strategies.
When a customer engages us to support them through the innovation process, we don’t simply think of the current stage, but rather picture the lifecycle and start to prepare that customer for later stages and the type of information that will be needed along the way.
So, while we’re helping them to gather evidence to support clinical needs, we will also get them to start thinking about the longer term – Who will the payer or payers be? What type of skills will be required for product implementation once a product has been proven safe and effective?
By getting the customer to start thinking about these issues, we can begin collecting data. If a product is going through early clinical trials, the bulk of our questions with stakeholders might focus on issues around safety, but we will also use the opportunity to ask them what kind of obstacles they might foresee if the product is proven to be safe and effective.
When it comes to collecting data, we are also trying to help customers consider different approaches and broader questions. Decisions payers make might not always be about cost-effectiveness or like-for-like comparisons with other products. There is often room for negotiation if payers perceive value to the healthcare system, for example, a product that offers better outcomes to patients in certain categories or that provides overall value to the healthcare system. And the value placed on a product can vary from one market to the next. For example, a product that might sell for 100 euros in Denmark might attract a price of 150 euros in Germany, despite it addressing the same healthcare problem.
Adopting the right toolset
To help clients navigate these complexities, we draw on a diverse toolset of data collection and analytical methods, while always taking into account the type of product and where it is in its lifecycle. In some instances, we would perform a market analysis, whereas in others we might carry out horizon scanning to determine potential future developments. In other cases, we might conduct a value of information analysis to help determine cost effectiveness.
It really depends on the questions, type of product, and the kinds of decisions to be made what type of tool we would use to get the best evidence or level of information for the customer.
Through these different methodologies, we can help clients to understand the potential for their product within a dynamic and changing healthcare ecosystem, rather than just in isolation.
Expanding the potential
For example, when working with a start-up company that had been working on a software-as a-medical-device product it became clear during market testing that the potential opportunities for the product were much larger than the company had envisioned.
What started out as a device to collect data for a specific condition grew into a software platform to not only collect data from that device but also from other current and future devices. So, the device evolved into a communications platform, and as a result the company now plays a much bigger role in providing feedback to healthcare providers within a particular care pathway. The result is what was a low volume, high price product became a higher volume, lower price product
It can often be difficult for innovators to see the larger potential or even the potential risks in following a strategy. That big-picture perspective requires looking beyond narrow parameters and exploring opportunity, often in unexpected or unexplored areas.
About the writer:
Hubertus “Bert” Vrijhoef, PhD, is CEO of Panaxea, which helps clients to make informed decisions about their healthcare innovations. Bert joined Panaxea from academia, where his research focussed on healthcare innovations to improve outcomes; integration and coordination of care; and skill mix and new professions in healthcare – all based on quantitative research, qualitative research and mixed research methods. In addition to his role as CEO at Panaxea, Bert continues his research into skill mix and task referral at Maastricht University Medical Center, where he leads the Research Team Task Referral. He is also chair of the Dutch Stroke Knowledge Network and editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Care Coordination.