Market access is easy, there are only 5 steps

March 9th, 2022


As we welcome our 6th director to Access Infinity and take our collective market access experience to well over a century, we have been thinking about what sets us apart as a market access consultancy. Our digital solutions are an obvious answer with many thousands of expert hours going into their design and development (1), allowing us as consultants to work faster, smarter, and more rigorously than we have ever been able before. These are the distilled essence of our ongoing learning in market access. But one of our true differences is our passion for sharing what we have learned about market access with our colleagues and clients. For those setting out on the journey, there are some great foundational training courses, including the very popular CELforPharma foundation course (2), but if you want to build your career in this space, how would you do it?

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people helped on their market access learning journey

The 5 steps to market access mastery:

We work with many talented linguists, and like any new language it’s often useful to connect the words or concepts back to something we understand. Whether you have a background in biosciences or business, maths or marketing, there are some basic forms of the market access language which are familiar. At the most basic level, we bring our experience as consumers of healthcare in our home countries that gives us a solid starting point. Start with what you know and build out from there.

There is a wealth of information out there to learn about market access if you just know where to look. Learning where those facts are, how to quickly access them, and turn them into digestible analysis is invaluable. Knowing how to navigate a 300-page HTA document or the G-BA website in minutes is great, but it is just as important to learn what you would not be able to find there. Find someone to show you around and help you work out what’s important and what isn’t

Once you have looked at the market access landscapes of a few different health systems, HTA processes, assessments or even therapy areas, you will soon start to see patterns emerging. These trends will turn into your own unique set of heuristics to guide and give you an intuition on how to answer some of the trickier market access problems. Build on the patterns and similarities which appear to you and are shared by others.

Healthcare is complicated and the commercial business of healthcare even more so. Every health system has their own way of doing things and they are rarely simple. From the nuances of health economic analyses to the commercial attributes of country distribution channels, a true sign of the skill is not only collecting the similarities but then understanding which differences are important. Try to embrace the complexity, it might seen overwhelming but it is worth it.

Malcolm Gladwell (3) famously and controversially cited the 10,000 hours of practice (4) required for mastery of a skill. In market access consulting terms, this adds up to about 6 years of work in the world of payer insights, evidence generation and commercial planning. The often-under-recognised aspect of this 10,000-hour estimate is that the practice must be deliberate. Therefore, it is not enough to just spend the time, we must be dedicated, focussed, and intentional in our learning so we can apply what we know to the vast range of market access needs faced by the industry. Try to structure your continuing learning, sharing what you know with others is a great way to do that.

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About the author

Nick Proctor

Nick has spent the last 20 years helping pharmaceutical companies meet their development and commercial objectives and in that time he has been fortunate enough to learn from the finest mentors, advisors and coaches in the industry. During his time in price, reimbursement and market access consultancy he has realised that the key to delivering great client work is a great team and a common understanding of the challenges, so Nick is always looking for new ways to help colleagues and clients keep learning about payers and their world. Nick is a tutor, coach and lecturer in market access and has been a member of the expert faculty at CELforPharma for almost 7 years. Nick has a PhD in medicine and pharmacy from the University of Manchester and worked on his postdoctoral research at the University of Sheffield.