Overcoming pharma market access misperceptions

Overcome iceberg like challenges in pharma market access

Dynamic pharma market forces can make conversations with HCPs about prescription cost and coverage challenging for sales representatives. While clinical information drives 50% of an HCP’s prescribing decision, perceptions about access and cost drive the other 50% of their decision. Unfortunately, what prescribers think they know about market access is often shaped by misperception.

This article explores a few of the most significant factors influencing HCP perceptions about a brand’s accessibility for their patients. Then we’ll offer solutions to help your sales team overcome HCP objections and align their perceptions about access more closely with the realities.

Factors negatively impacting HCP perceptions about market access

HCPs prescribe products they believe their patients can easily access and, once they’ve formed assumptions about a drug’s coverage, those assumptions can be difficult to alter.

Challenge: Market shifts can create misleading impressions about a drug’s coverage

Each time a prescriber encounters a barrier to prescribing, they begin to form a negative impression of your brand. If they repeatedly encounter barriers, that impression becomes quickly and deeply entrenched.

In a recent analysis, one pharma brand found that for every change in a drug restriction, HCPs experienced an exponential change in their perception of the drug’s accessibility. In this study, HCPs perceived a 15% increase in drug restriction as a 20% reduction in accessibility – and the disparity between perception and reality soared to 90% perceived restriction when the actual restriction rose to a mere 25%.1

In fact, encountering a restriction more than two or three times in a row is enough to cement in HCPs’ minds the idea that your drug is inaccessible for their patients. And closing the gap between perception and reality is made all the more challenging for sales representatives when they don’t have information specific to that HCP’s actual patient population.

Challenge: General formulary and access data inadequately represent HCPs’ specific contexts

Unfortunately, some of the tools sales representatives use to talk about market access also negatively affect HCP perceptions because the information is so broad as to be irrelevant. Much of the pharma market access data readily available to sales representatives is high-level geographic information based on popular plans and formulary lives. So, for instance, coverage for the state of Indiana – or, in some cases, as broad as the Midwestern territory – is calculated by the number of lives covered by various plans.

While these calculations identify the most popular plans and channels for a broad area, they often miss the mark by not addressing localized coverage for an individual HCP’s practice and patients. Shallow data leaves sales representatives flat-footed when they need to pivot to answer specific questions and handle HCP objections, making it even more difficult for sales representatives to build trust with their target accounts.

Challenge: Irrelevant, “one-size-fits-all” messages erode HCP confidence

Similarly, generalized market messaging can damage an HCP’s confidence in a brand because it doesn’t address their practice’s context. Sales representatives appear uninformed if they start a conversation with an exciting formulary improvement for Medicare patients – but the doctor they’re sharing it with sees primarily Commercial patients.

The bottom line: When a prescriber isn’t sure a drug is accessible, they simply assume it’s not.

How to help your sales team expertly manage reality vs. perception

Although you can’t control market shifts or plan restrictions, you can equip your sales team with solutions to help them better engage HCPs and handle objections with confidence. Here are a few approaches for making cost and coverage less daunting for sales teams.

Solution: Use the right data to answer questions immediately and authoritatively

Your team needs more than pins in a map to have productive conversations with their target HCPs and field questions with confidence. Putting an adjustable lens on geographic data allows sales representatives to take a broad view or zero in at a more granular level. For instance, statewide cost and coverage data provides a general landscape, but narrowing the lens to a ZIP3 level provides a more accurate, relevant picture of a provider’s practical context.

Additionally, integrating transaction and claims data for each prescriber allows your sales representatives to drill down into formulary and plan details to uncover (and troubleshoot) barriers to prescribing your brand.

Solution: Create and prioritize compelling, personalized, data-informed messaging

Data isn’t messaging, however. If you want your sales team to engage prescribers and build their trust, they’ll need a prioritized set of messages to choose from that addresses a range of practice-specific concerns and allows them to pivot the conversation, answering market access questions quickly and clearly.

Depending on the circumstances, some of these messages might confirm strong local access or amplify a positive change in access, while others might highlight access for prescriber-specific plans. Still, others might show HCPs a list of top local plans covering your brand. And, if your brand’s coverage outperforms that of a competitor, a comparative access message might be an effective option.

Prioritizing these messages for your representatives not only boosts their confidence that they’re delivering targeted, personalized communications designed to engage their HCPs, but it also eliminates the guesswork of determining which message will be most effective for a given situation.

Solution: Integrate market access data and messaging into an easy-to-use tool

Precise, robust data and flexible, personalized messaging – while both powerful – only serve your sales team if they’re offered in a format they can use effortlessly throughout their day. A simple interface should keep your optimal message front-and-center and limit the number of actions required to drill down into detailed data for answering HCP questions.

Finally, keeping your data and messaging up to date and synching it with familiar tools, such as Veeva CRM, IQVIA OCE, or other solutions expands their options and puts familiar resources, such as sales sheets and email templates, at their fingertips.

Make every member of your sales team a market access genius

Access Genius integrates multiple sources of data and uses an algorithm based on your company’s business rules and market access strategy to create and prioritize highly personalized messaging for your sales representatives to use to engage HCPs and build their trust in your brand. Access Genius equips your sales team to bridge the gap between HCP perceptions about market access and the cost and coverage realities that will help get your drug therapy into the hands of the patients who can benefit from it.


  1. Source: Confidential client internal data on file with PRECISIONxtract