Unlocking the potential of connected commercialisation solutions

It is no secret that today’s post-pandemic healthcare landscape in the UK is very different to its pre-pandemic counterpart. Driven by necessity, COVID-19 accelerated reforms that had long languished on the sidelines of healthcare agendas in the UK, ushering in a new way of working for both the NHS and UK life sciences industry on an unprecedented scale.

NHS priorities have changed amid workforce and capacity issues, technological innovations and the growing influence of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs). For life science companies, it is more important than ever to understand the market access landscape they are launching in and review how commercial and engagement strategies align with the needs of today’s customers.

Preparing a cross-functional strategy with aligned priorities, activities, and recommendations across commercial, medical, and market access teams is essential if companies are to successfully cut through the noise of the modern healthcare market and connect with healthcare professionals. With connected solutions that link the priorities of each team, companies can optimise their engagement with the NHS, and ultimately ensure that patients are able to benefit from their products.

Here, IQVIA’s head of commercial effectiveness Martin Fox, head of strategic market access, Steve Ferguson, engagement lead global CSMS, Elizabeth Murray, and patient and market access solution lead, Stephen How discuss the need to align value propositions with NHS priorities, the importance of connected solutions and cross-functional teams in commercialisation, and how companies can maximise marketing efforts to connect with decision-makers.

Aligning with ‘multi-dimensional’ NHS priorities

Communicating the value of a new innovative product or indication has long been a central feature of commercialisation strategies. However, the recent re-emergence of value-based procurement and a pivot towards system-led planning has disrupted conventional perceptions of value across the NHS.

To effectively demonstrate value in this new environment, life science companies must acknowledge this mindset shift by developing robust, evidence-based value propositions that align closely with key NHS priorities. By anchoring value propositions with the organisations’ central objectives, such as the Green Agenda or workforce capacity needs post-pandemic, life science companies can target a wider array of considerations that influence drug purchasing decisions.

“You have to find a way of making your product relevant,” says Ferguson. “The way to do that is to understand what the NHS is struggling with and what they’re trying to achieve, and then find a way of articulating that in your product value proposition. Even if it’s quite tangential, you’ve got to try. Otherwise, it is not going to be of any use to the NHS moving forward.”

Addressing the heightened nuance of today’s commissioning landscape is particularly important with the introduction of ICSs. With multiple stakeholders now involved in the process, showcasing value for different levels of the healthcare system is a priority.

“You need the national flag flying to say, ‘we’re reaching the high-level healthcare policy agenda items that have been set in stone’,” says Fox. “Then, sub-nationally, everybody will require a slightly different version of that value. So, for example, the healthcare needs of the Northwest of England probably look different from Surrey or Central London.”

This is where the NHS partnerships can be an asset for life sciences beyond product value propositions. For both Fox and Ferguson, creating trusting partnerships is an essential step for the industry. By working in collaboration with the NHS, companies can provide support beyond supply, such as preparing the system to accommodate innovative treatments.

“Companies now need to think about preparing the system to be able to use these types of technologies,” explains Ferguson. “It’s not just about bringing the latest innovative cancer treatment to the market. If the genomic testing required to identify the patients is not in place yet, or it is not included on the latest Test Directory, and therefore is not being financed at the moment, patient access will not happen.

“Looking at CAR-T, I think that is the blueprint for innovative medicines moving forward. It’s been a big success story. Even though these treatments are expensive and single-patient manufacturing creates significant challenges, the NHS really bought into the potential of CAR-T and has worked with companies to make them available.”

Enhancing communication strategies for a hybrid landscape

Of course, to successfully articulate value to stakeholders across the NHS, companies must first navigate the changing landscape of hybrid communications. Today’s engagement landscape looks very different than it did before the pandemic. As such, the way life science companies communicate and connect with HCPs must also evolve to reflect the shift towards multichannel and omnichannel engagement.

To maximise the impact of both digital and in-person interactions, it is important to understand what customers need from each type of interaction.

“It is not really a case of either/or, it is about how you stitch these channels together depending on individual HCP preferences and the type of activity that is being offered to them,” explains Murray. “A lot of companies are talking about having an omnichannel vision where different channels are pulled together in a seamless, connected way; but making that shift to having a truly customer-centric omnichannel approach that delivers a good customer experience is quite a jump.”

Consistency and quality are two essential characteristics of good communications. Here, adopting a cross-functional approach can be productive. For example, ensuring that analysis of real-world evidence is shaped to meet the communication requirements of medical, market access, and commercial teams will address the needs of multiple decision makers.

“Sometimes, the danger is that commercial teams get involved later in the process when it gets close to commercialisation,” says Fox. “The NHS is complex, and there are multiple decision-makers and stakeholders. If your engagement strategy is disconnected, there will not be a unifying message or unifying support from within the life science company in terms of providing data to all those different people.”

Using insights to drive connected solutions

Achieving this vision of a seamlessly connected commercialisation process requires comprehensive insight into customer behaviour, as well as the ability to measure the effectiveness of the product and related communications.

Facilitating communication and collaboration between cross-functional teams allows life science companies to be agile in decision-making. The addition of real-world evidence (RWE) can also provide critical information about adherence and effectiveness that life science companies can use to identify potential issues or barriers to treatment.

“It is important to understand the impact of your product on the clinical service, on workforce capacity, changes in diagnostics, or follow up,” says How. “The NHS frequently does not have the headroom to implement some of the pathway changes necessary for the introduction of innovative medicines. Collaboratively gaining real world evidence on the whole pathway impact is a powerful way to communicate your value proposition.”

In the current healthcare ecosystem, measuring the impact of an engagement strategy is an evolving process. Omnichannel engagement is still a relatively young process in the history of modern healthcare and, as such, companies are working to assess the relative success of different channels and marketing approaches.

“It’s very, very rare that companies know exactly which elements of the campaign were the most effective,” explains Ferguson. “I think that’s going to take time for companies to fully understand because, ultimately, we measure effectiveness on how many patients are receiving the treatment versus the number of appropriate or available patients.”

Exploring the value of collaboration

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the life science industry has shown just how effective a connected and united healthcare landscape can be. But to carry this vision of connection and partnership into post-pandemic plans, life science companies need to invite the whole organisation to partake in the journey from pre-launch to post-market brand planning.

“A connected solution is an integrated approach to a business problem, rather than a connected set of activities,” says How. “This means understanding local issues and pressures, from clinic waiting time pressures – such as diagnostic or genomic test availability – to providing market access support in pathway development or patient activation services, such as support nurses or homecare services to facilitate access to treatment.”

The key is understanding. Cross-functional teams can use industry and data insights to develop a united front of information aligned across messaging, values, and brand strategies. This foundation can then be used to understand how a product fits into the wider market access landscape, allowing teams to identify key areas of unmet need in the wider NHS ecosystem and develop a tailored communication and engagement strategy.

“The traditional industry approach has been about pushing their messages, but the pandemic has really forced companies to think a bit more about talking to the healthcare professionals on their terms,” Murray concludes. “This is a journey, and it is important that communication and engagement efforts evolve to truly meet the needs of HCPs.”

About the interviewees

Steven Ferguson

Steve Ferguson, head of strategic market access, IQVIA

Martin Fox

Martin Fox, head of commercial effectiveness, IQVIA

Liz Murray

Elizabeth Murray, engagement lead global CSMS, IQVIA

Stephen How

Stephen How, patient and market access solution lead, IQVIA



IQVIA is a leading global provider of advanced analytics, technology solutions and clinical research services to the life sciences industry. IQVIA creates intelligent connections to deliver powerful insights with speed and agility — enabling customers to accelerate the clinical development and commercialisation of innovative medical treatments that improve healthcare outcomes for patients. With approximately 77,000 employees, IQVIA conducts operations in more than 100 countries. Learn more at

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