Real-time Insights for Pharma Commercial Business Leaders


salesman-shaking-hands-with-doctor-picture-id1189304164 (1).jpgToday’s healthcare landscape is a challenging one, and commercial business leaders in the pharma/biopharma industry are realizing they need to both respond to the urgent challenges of today and innovate so they are ready for the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.

Successful commercial business leaders have been doing this by investing in their decision-making and predictive planning capabilities, connecting people, data, and analytics.

The Challenges Are Real

Commercial pharma leaders are under more pressure than ever to perform. By therapeutic area and drug class, the most-effective strategies for achieving brand awareness and securing market access are varied and ever-changing. Competition is intensifying, with fewer areas of unmet clinical need and increased difficulty achieving an added benefit over existing therapies. Healthcare budgets are more constrained than ever, with payers introducing increasingly restrictive cost-control mechanisms. And consolidation in the pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) space is giving PBMs more power to negotiate significant rebates with dubious value to the healthcare system.

Leaders across market access, managed markets, pricing and contracting, field sales, market analytics and insights, and gross-to-net channel management are taking these challenges head-on. Leaders who see the commercial forecasting process as a continuous, collaborative activity are making better decisions, returning millions of dollars in revenue leakage to the business by identifying and paring back their lowest-ROI commercial spend, and identifying and investing in high ROI strategies. Their teams are collaborating in real time on a single platform powered by a next-generation predictive analytics engine, enabling real-time decision-making where ROI can be predicted, measured, analyzed, and continuously improved.

We are seeing these leaders use this platform—Anaplan—to solve for three key challenges.

Challenge 1: Where should I invest my next dollar of commercial spend?

Using the Anaplan platform, commercial leaders are determining how to allocate sales and marketing spend based on which tactics will have the biggest impact on brand awareness. In parallel, they are identifying that they may be over-paying for (or perhaps under-investing in) market access. And they are tuning their investments across brand awareness and market access based on insights gleaned from their data.

On the brand awareness front, should we invest more in detailing, direct-to-consumer (DTC) campaigns, speaker programs, and key opinion leader education, or elsewhere? Imagine being able to go to a dashboard that tells you, “You ran these two DTC campaigns during these months, and based on a 20-percent average increase in demand by month six after the midpoint of the campaign—controlled for other factors using demand data, survey data, and tracking data—this was the total pull-through generated, and this is how long the increase in demand was sustained.” We get our answer in terms of the real ROI generated on your campaigns relative to other tactics. The true power of one platform, however, comes from being able to pivot from a dashboard for obtaining these insights to one where you can apply these insights. Being able to ask, “What happens if…” and getting the answer in terms that matter to you (e.g., demand, awareness, market share) and your stakeholders (e.g., in $ terms) in real time.

On the market access side, what rebates should I pay to obtain, maintain, improve, and defend market access? For where my brand is in its lifecycle if I want to achieve a 30-percent return on every rebate dollar paid for access, what terms should I offer and what bid grid structures will result in what coverage across all associated plans? And what will the shift of covered lives (and associated Rxs) be from undesirable coverage status to more-desirable coverage status? Imagine being able to go to a dashboard that tells you, “You paid these rebates to improve access, which resulted in 50 percent of covered lives under the major PBMs having access to your brand at preferred status with restrictions. But, you can offer up to 5 percent more in rebates to plans of a certain classification (per the bid grid), and we predict that you will see 20 percent more plans cover your brand without restrictions, resulting in a 30-to-50 percent increase in Rx volumes, with a minimum 45-percent return on rebates and a maximum of 75-percent return on rebates.” Again, we can ask questions and get insights in real time, and in real $ terms; insights that drive better discussions amongst leaders and better, faster decision-making during market access contract negotiations.

Now, where should I invest my next $1? For each brand, analyze your actual spend in each of these areas, compare this spend to industry benchmarks, pull in competitive intelligence, and leverage available data and the technology of continuously learning predictive algorithms, to see the projected impact of your decisions before you make them. Successful organizations take the time to understand these complex interdependencies, and then delegate the day-to-day management of the math and mechanics of these interdependencies to cutting-edge technology like the Anaplan platform, letting their teams spend more time strategizing.

Challenge 2: How can I maximize the interactions our field reps have with prescribers?

Using the Anaplan platform, commercial leaders are maximizing brand awareness and growth from improving prescriber interactions. When field reps have the data and tools they need to identify the prescribers whose patients benefit from your brands and have the relevant information for that prescriber at their fingertips, positive outcomes result.

Imagine you’re a field sales rep and that you’re able to load up a dashboard on your iPad with a prescriber's prescribing statistics in your therapeutic area, the brands relevant to them, the efficacy and safety data that sets your brand apart from its competitors, the key opinion leaders (KOLs ) in the healthcare community that are advocating for the brand’s benefits, the availability of the drug in local pharmacies, and whether that prescriber’s accepted insurance plans cover the drug (and patient assistance programs if they don’t), as well as the latest relevant data from medical affairs, pharmacovigilance, marketing analytics & insights, pricing & market access, and supply chain. Additional information that results from connected analytics includes:

  • What key opinion leaders are voicing and at what conferences/in what journals.
  • Adherence statistics.
  • Average co-pays, coverage, and patient assistance programs.
  • Dosage guidance.
  • Which brand(s) are running DTC campaigns, where the brand is in its lifecycle (e.g., new launch, high priority), brand potential, current brand awareness based on surveys.
  • Competitive information on other brands on the market or soon-to-launch.

This simple Anaplan dashboard is connected to the same single platform where collaborative commercial planning and analytics is occurring. The field rep has access to real-time information. And those fields can use this same platform to provide real-time feedback to their counterparts; for instance, field sales informing managed markets and market access that prescriber sentiment is positive on a brand but that affordability and coverage needs to improve for a brand to reach its full potential.

More About Connected Planning:

Challenge 3: We are making decisions based on stale, incomplete, and misaligned data. How can I speed up our team’s information access and turnaround time?

Using the Anaplan platform, commercial leaders are making better decisions, faster. Whether you’re negotiating market access contracts with payers or forecasting GTN channel mix, real-time information from the field can be invaluable. Critical business decisions and deliverables rely on the availability and readiness of data from many sources. For market access, claims data is often processed through Integrichain, actual TRx and NRx demand data from IQVIA, claims and co-pay data from IQVIA and other longitudinal data providers, MMIT coverage and lives data by brand, DRG formulary data. For gross-to-net forecasting, shipments and returns, rebate rates and channel mix, financials from the GL, and sub-ledgers. From a modeling perspective, the ripple effect of a shift in actual contracted volumes, or coverage status, or a change in our national-level or channel-level forecast assumptions, or a shift in channel mix assumptions, can be massive and hard to correct after the fact. The longer it takes to incorporate this data into a common data model, the less agile you are, the less-ready you are to make decisions, and the further you are behind your competition, whether it’s a competing brand or a PBM.

Many pharma organizations use Excel for commercial analytics and decision-making—whether in the market access or managed markets functions, upstream or downstream—and they choose Excel because they need flexibility and customizability. These commercial leaders are using Excel for everything from national unit volume forecasting to pre-/post-deal analytics and process management; from GTN channel forecasting to accruals and true-ups. Because all of these areas are using Excel, these processes are often sequential instead of collaborative, with each stakeholder incorporating data and assumptions into their offline models and shipping the results to the next stakeholder down the line. In this spreadsheet-driven world, real-time collaboration is next to impossible and individual stakeholders are resigned to high-impact interdependencies remaining unaccounted for. The result is siloed decision-making based on incomplete and stale information, and frustratingly low agility in a fast-changing landscape.

Anaplan-enabled pharma organizations run their commercial forecasting and analytics on Anaplan to collaborate in real-time. As external market events are captured, models in Anaplan predict demand shifts at a national, channel, and account level. As brand awareness tactics are re-prioritized, Anaplan models flex national and regional volume projections up and down. As gross-to-net channel mix assumptions change, so too does the channel-level volume forecast, and national, channel, and account-level forecast stakeholders and pricing and finance stakeholders are all aware and able to discuss the drivers of change. Meanwhile, pricing and contracting analysts responsible for pre-deal forecasting can see the impact of these changes on projected contract performance and negotiate with full visibility into projected payer and plan-level volumes. The field, in the meantime, has access to the latest clinical safety and efficacy data, competitive data, and patient affordability data (formulary access and copay program data) all in one place to maximize pull-through, providing a seamless patient and provider experience (as important as clinical outcomes, nowadays).

Challenge Begets Opportunity

Commercial business leaders are innovating to realize their brands’ commercial potential. And enabling technologies like Anaplan are removing the constraints that have been a barrier to connecting people, data, and analytics in the past.

With a connected decision-making and predictive analytics capability, we are seeing a new generation of leaders emerge who can confidently navigate a challenging market landscape and guide their commercial organizations toward brand success, delivering value from year 1 to year 10 and beyond.


Kevin Jacokes is the Life Sciences Practice Lead for Alpine Consulting Partners. He has 12+ years of experience in delivering connected planning, analytics, and decision-making capabilities to global organizations, implementing the data infrastructure, deploying the analytical models, and coaching the teams who make these capabilities possible. Kevin believes in the Anaplan platform and ecosystem because he has seen the effect it has on the cultures of organizations that adopt it. He has seen it promote collaboration, drive curiosity, unlock creativity, and empower team-driven continuous improvement.