The healthcare communications sector has an important role to play in the market access process, according to Berkeley Greenwood, founder and managing director of UK public affairs agency Decideum.
Speaking at the Healthcare Communications Association's (HCA) recent annual general meeting he said: “Comms in all its different varieties … is hugely important and there are lots of opportunities for the healthcare communications industry [in market access].
“My number one tip is to get thinking about this stuff from an early stage – one thing I'm very struck by is how often the communications for [market access] simply have not been covered when a product is launched.”
It's an area that comms has “a big role to play”, he said, adding that myth-busting was one of the skills that medical comms could bring to the table.
Speaking at the HCA meeting in January he also highlighted the difficulties of dealing with some of the concepts that are central to market access, among them 'value'.
“Value is one of those lovely soft, cuddly words that doesn't actually mean an awful lot. It means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.”
Noting the disjointed approach that could produce the Cancer Drugs Fund but not other ring-fenced budgets for other diseases, he said one of the problems of talking about value is whether we agree on what constitutes “worthiness in terms of the diseases we treat”.
“Possibly, as the area develops, [value means] the wider impact on the health of an individual or a group of individuals. It's complex stuff, it's less scientific – and that can be a good thing from our point of view, because subjectivity is something that lends itself well to influencing processes - public affairs, comms and so on."
But he highlighted that patients aren't concerned with notions of 'value', just whether they can get the right drug for them and that it works.
“The onus rests of the industry and the NHS to communicate what they mean by value and work better to demonstrate it,” Greenwood concluded.