Why a pharma company’s plans to achieve collaborations with health systems may not be meeting expectations. Why some pharma programs may not have achieved national uptake. And why it’s up to senior leadership to find the fix.
Most people don’t comment on:
- Information architecture
- System design
If sales aren’t hitting benchmark or progress is too slow, it’s uncommon for any stakeholder to sit back in their chair, scratch their head, and contemplate what’s going on with these foundational imperatives. Most often, conversations tend to revolve around finding a new and improved tactic.
As Pam Arora, CIO of Children’s Health, told me recently, “You can’t build your dream house until you lay the foundation.” The dream house Pam refers to is all of Children’s innovative care management initiatives. And by foundation she means their underlying technology, governance, and data management. Let’s consider this same metaphor and its applicability to pharma teams looking to collaborate with health systems like Pam’s.
At Aventria, we recently worked on:
- A project that generated a 16% spike in institutional sales in 3 months
- A pilot where a KAM achieved her annual goal 1 month after we launched
- A program that was used by providers to help more than 8 million patients
I can tell you exactly and specifically what made all the difference in each of the above Aventria endeavors. But first, let me tell you what were NOT the core problems that we needed to fix to unleash these collaborative successes.
What problems were NOT causing underperforming pharma collaborations with health systems:
- The basic competence of the KAM team (although they were most frequently blamed)
- The skill of in-house EHR or HIT or informatics professionals tasked with EHR integrations and/or their lack of “interoperable” tools, apps, or the latest technology “shiny penny”
- The tactical prowess of Marketing Managers or Associate Marketing Managers
When we are called in because collaborative efforts with health systems aren’t going as well as planned, we generally discover someone on the above list being eyeballed for the poor performance. And these same individuals are often tasked with the fix.
But let me state for the record that what is rarely at issue is the skill or competence of anyone who is tasked to work within existing workflows, frameworks, paradigms, or strategic approaches.
It’s not the fault of the plumber unclogging the sink if the pipes to the sewer need to be replaced. And if that plumber’s jurisdiction only extends as far as the bathroom on the second floor, the situation will never improve no matter how diligent and dedicated and smart that plumber happens to be.
Here’s another wrinkle to not underestimate: If somehow the sewer pipes get fixed and the sink upstairs is no longer perpetually clogged, will the plumber upstairs lose his job? The plumber upstairs, or his or her peers and colleagues, might think so.
It is generally not a plan for success to ask those within the existing framework to evaluate the existing framework. Even if their jobs aren’t actually at stake—even if jobs are actually more secure when a department delivers greater success—change is going to feel risky.
The problem usually isn’t the caliber of the current work. The problem most often is insufficient infrastructure supporting and amplifying and activating the current work.
When Aventria is called in to turn around a pharma team’s efforts to collaborate with health systems, we often find a team of talented individuals working hard. They might have tools. They might have experience. There might be an overarching brand strategy. They might have a desire to do the right thing by patients.
But in almost every case, the team does not have an optimal infrastructure and use-case to build and sustain success. In other words, there’s an inadequate foundation. And when we fix this core lack, success happens. And it can happen within weeks or a quarter, not years.
This incredibly common missing link is exactly why we worked with our partner QC-Health®, Inc, to build the Outcome Guided Engagement® (OGE®) Platform. The OGE® Platform is a prebuilt but configurable system that provides the leverage a pharma team needs to achieve nationwide health system collaborations.
One note for senior leaders: If you are a senior leader reading this and thinking to yourself, “Hmm, let me delegate the task to level up our health system collaborations to Billy, the guy on our team who’s handling EHR interoperability,” let me offer you a note of caution. In most cases, Billy is not going to be looking for ways for you to be successful. Success to Billy means making himself successful. It would be odd if it were any different. And I say this with all due respect to Billy, and to human nature, Billy’s experience and tenure and peer-pressure.
But consider if Billy were our plumber: Billy’s fix to make himself and his peers successful would be to order a really fancy sink plunger or monkey wrench. Neither will solve the greater issue for Billy’s boss, tasked with flawless building operations. It’s like that old saying, “We were too busy mopping up the floor to turn off the faucet.”
If you are a senior leader and you desire to achieve results orders of magnitude above current benchmarks, I’d highly recommend you contact us yourself. Your team needs your wherewithal, support and experience. They cannot achieve success that is orders of magnitude better without your involvement.
Making a difference in patient care by helping patients, providers, and payers collaborate on shared priorities
— Stacey Richter is co-president of Aventria Health Group.