Cutting through the noise: opportunities artificial intelligence presents to market access

The advent of ChatGPT is shining a spotlight on the possibilities of artificial intelligence (AI) across all industries. In the recent past, we witnessed machine learning algorithms primed with historical data turn it into generative outcomes – a method relied upon by ChatGPT as a large language model (LLM).

Beyond creative industries, we have also seen phenomenal innovation in the medical and health sectors due to AI. From fitness tracking apps to leveraging big data for diagnoses, AI is removing manual processes and delivering faster outcomes.

However, in terms of digital transformation, the pharma industry has lagged behind, particularly with regards to adopting new technologies at the same pace as other industries. Market access – being a relatively new and emerging function – has even more catching up to do. 

In the last decade, the role of market access has leapt forward significantly, and is now recognised as a core function within pharmaceutical organisations, playing a pivotal role in medicine launch and overall business success.

Meanwhile, internal digital teams have typically focused on using tech to advance departments such as R&D, medical affairs, commercial and marketing, leaving market access underserved.

The pharmaceutical industry is increasingly warming to the potential of artificial intelligence. Momentum on how AI could be used continues to build. Potential applications start from discovery and development through to clinical trials and, much like other industries, the possibilities are endless.


Extracting key insights from diverse datasets

With the accessibility of tools such as the above-mentioned ChatGPT, we have new avenues for intelligence within market access analysis and decision-making. For example, LLMs can be trained on vast data from market access databases, enabling teams to query them with relevant prompts to extract valuable insights.

Market access professionals often reflect on numerous and complex information from a wide range of data sources, including pricing data, payer research and HTA reports, all of which hold critical information that teams must painstakingly sift through manually. With so much data being captured from different sources, it becomes very difficult to find the most pertinent information that should be considered for evidence-based decision making. LLMs can excel at distilling extensive data sets into simple insights, saving hours of time and unlocking important evidence hiding in plain sight.

Not only can AI be trained to analyse and extract insights from unstructured and often subjective reports, often provided in various foreign languages; AI can also help automate health economic modelling, allowing for faster and more accurate assessments of a drug’s cost-effectiveness. It can also help in simulating different scenarios to assess the impact on market access.

Furthermore, AI can be used to predict launch success. This requires in-depth analysis of historical data, including commercial data, past pricing trends, timeframes for market entry, competitive dynamics, ROI projections and more. AI is ideally placed to analyse the data available, empowering market access specialists to better forecast and model success for their upcoming launches.  

Another consideration is the visualisation of data. As it stands today, custom visualisation of multiple data points is challenging and time-consuming for market access teams, but something that is in high demand by market access leaders and senior executives. The integration of AI into tools like Access Infinity’s NURO solution, streamlines the process, making the generation of charts and personalised visualisations effortless.    

The challenges of using AI in market access

While in theory, there are numerous opportunities to use AI within market access, it is still nascent in its technical journey. We need to overcome the barriers of poor digital maturity to truly leverage AI. It is certainly time for companies to stop relying on legacy methods – like Excel – to make decisions and start exploring the possibilities of more advanced and specialised tools.

Meanwhile, there are various limitations in the data itself, that limit the accuracy of the outputs and continue to create scepticism even among early adopters. Namely, we are still lacking sufficient data – we have around 2,500 brands that have been launched globally since 1995, and ideally, we would need a lot more data to train the models to improve the accuracy of predictions.

Standardisation efforts are ongoing but can be slow to adopt. The data is often stored in various formats and systems, making data analysis complex.

AI in practice

While there’s no doubt that AI can – and will – accelerate decision-making, it’s important not to lose sight of the bigger picture.

Market access is not just a science, wherein a given input, such as evidence, guarantees an output, such as price. It will continue to heavily rely on human intervention, judgement, and experience. Thus, the ‘art’ of Market Access is better served by combining human expertise and AI to ensure success.

We anticipate that AI will become one cog in the machine taking care of routine tasks, so that, there are more resources available to handle complex requirements that need human collaboration and intervention.  

Our best practice tips for beginning your journey towards using AI include the following:

  • Gather the largest sets of high-quality data, including relevant price, HTA, evidence and regulatory approvals to begin connecting the dots.
  • Experiment with multiple avenues and don’t shy away from exploration with a focus on refining prompt engineering and training datasets.
  • Partner with others to make major inroads without losing focus on your brands.

What exposure have you and your team had to AI? And what role do you see it playing for market access in the future?

Access Infinity has made exciting advancements in incorporating AI into our digital solutions. If you’d like to learn more, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch at hello@accessinfinity.co.


Build or buy? Considerations for market access

As healthcare systems and regulatory landscapes evolve, pharmaceutical companies are facing greater challenges in getting their products to market. Market access professionals continue to play a critical role in navigating these complexities by ensuring timely regulatory approvals, cost-effectiveness evaluations, and securing favourable reimbursement and access agreements with healthcare providers and payers. As such, an increasing number of market access professionals are looking for digital solutions that bring efficiencies and allow them to make data-driven decisions.

However, as the demand for innovative digital strategies rises, a pivotal decision awaits these companies: Should they build an in-house digital application or buy pre-existing solutions from external vendors?

In this article, we delve into the complexities of this decision-making process and explore the key considerations that will empower market access teams to navigate the route towards the most optimal and cutting-edge digital solutions.  Read on to discover the pros and cons of both options and why we believe buying reigns supreme, nearly every time.

When should you BUILD?

Developing custom internal systems can prove advantageous when you want to retain full control over your unique processes and workflows. It is especially advantageous for systems that give a competitive edge or involve sensitive intellectual property. Bespoke home-grown solutions are also a better choice if off-the-shelf solutions seem too generic in comparison, and do not meet your specific needs.

Key considerations for BUILD

Building bespoke internal applications is not straightforward and can be complicated even for well-resourced teams.

1. Are you clear on your requirements?

When it comes to creating a custom application, having well-defined and documented requirements is crucial. Often, IT teams lack expertise in the subject matter and rely on their colleagues from the business side to explain what’s necessary. This means that if the main users (for market access, which includes both global and country teams) don’t actively contribute to shaping the requirements, the final solution may not be optimal. This challenge can be even greater for pharmaceutical companies due to their intricate organisational structure, the involvement of affiliates, and complex reporting hierarchies.

2. Are all your key stakeholders and users ready to commit time?

Consequently, the primary responsibility lies with the core market access team leading the custom application development. They must invest time in defining the requirements, providing clarifications to the IT team during the development phase, and conducting thorough end-user testing before release. Given the typically demanding schedules of market access professionals, this becomes a crucial factor to consider.

3. Have you considered the total cost of ownership?

Building software in-house carries higher development costs, longer timeframes and a risk of errors and defects — which can delay the roll-out. It is never a one-time effort and a one-off cost. There will be a need to commit to an ongoing budget and resources to provide support and take care of enhancements.

4. Have you considered the time it will take before you can start using the application?

Any bespoke application development follows a certain cadence.

It has to start with a detailed requirements elaboration phase so that the high-level requirements are well understood and documented. Starting with designing the user experience which requires intense end-user workshops, development of the application and testing, coupled with tight project management means that the entire process may take 6-12 months to complete. Many times, key personnel involved in the project change, the requirements evolve, and the end application doesn’t get the uptake that was expected.

Plug and Play: Explore the Perks of Purchasing SaaS

Although building software in-house can be a fantastic solution when done correctly — the reality is that for most companies, it’s simply not a practical option as they don’t have the necessary time or resources.

Market access teams in many pharma companies are accelerating their digital transformation by purchasing third-party software, that is then integrated into their existing operations and processes. This is particularly true when purchasing solutions from companies that specialise in market access and have built tailor-made solutions that cater to their needs.

Some unique advantages that SaaS solutions offer include:

  1. Lower total cost of ownership: Purchasing a SaaS solution does not have an upfront cost, and it is much easier to end the contract if businesses decide they no longer need the application. They can also benefit from new features and upgrades, without having to pay for all of them.
  2. Faster roll-out:  You start getting the value from day 1, as there is minimal set-up time involved in a SaaS solution.
  3. Customisation opportunities: Good SaaS platforms allow for many customisation opportunities to tailor to specific internal taxonomy and processes.
  4. Integrate to avoid duplication: Many SaaS platforms allow for integration with other internal and third-party applications. This eliminates duplication of efforts and increases adoption.
  5. Drive standardisation: Rolling out a SaaS solution already used by other leading pharma companies helps businesses stand a better chance of getting buy-in from the users. With an out-of-the-box system, pharmaceutical organisations are able to push through process standardisation and benchmark against some of the best in the industry.
  6. Try before you buy: Questions can be easily answered by gaining trial access, and simultaneously allay any concerns that the users may have.
  7. Long-term value and rate of adoption: Unlike a home-grown system that has been used by a handful of people, a SaaS solution benefits from years of evolution and feedback from clients — so a new client coming on board automatically benefits from having a robust, time-tested solution that already has the seal of approval by other businesses in the industry.

Building bespoke own solutions comes with risks, and adding to the complexity is the dearth of purpose-built SaaS solutions that cater to the digitisation needs of market access. So, it’s better for companies to avoid adopting generic or suboptimal applications. We have seen several market access teams try to build their own solutions and fail. This is particularly true for global launch activity tracking solutions that rely on affiliate teams to input lots of data into a system that isn’t easy to use. As a result, hardly anyone uses these applications, and it costs businesses a lot of money.

Discover our solutions

At Access Infinity, we have years of experience building solutions for market access and pride ourselves on delivering purpose-built platforms for Business Development, Pipeline, Early Assets and Launch teams.

Want to know more? Get in touch with our team, or browse our solutions, here.