A guide to approaching IDNs for pharma and biotech firms

A guide to approaching IDNs for pharma and biotech firms

Whether you’re an established biotech or pharmaceutical company, or you’re developing your first therapy, you know how difficult it can be to get the attention of clinicians and hospital leaders. We do too, and we’re here to help. 

We’ve compiled a brief guide on how you can approach health systems more effectively and, hopefully, improve adoption of your drug. 

Why target IDNs? 

According to Definitive Healthcare data, more than 76 percent of U.S. hospitals are part of an integrated delivery network (IDN). This is just one indicator that healthcare industry consolidation means most of the people making purchasing decisions are responsible for leading wider care networks. These vital decision-makers are VPs and C-suite executives, not just physicians. While industry consolidation and the presence of entities with such large market share might appear to restrict industry access, it could actually lead to greater distribution of your therapy. 

Because your primary targets have the clinical and financial health of multiple care facilities in mind, your strategic approach will be more complex than if you were only targeting a single hospital. We recommend that your team research several of the hospitals and care facilities in each of your target IDNs in order to maximize adoption of your drug or therapy.  

While you’ll likely be targeting the most relevant facility, you can also speak to interventions and performance at other facilities within the same network—demonstrating your knowledge and increasing your value. 

Key IDN metrics to understand (before having sales conversations) 

You know which diagnoses indicate a suitable patient population. You’ve found your “center of excellence,” where patients continually return for treatment. But what do you need to know about the IDN in charge of your ideal care facility? 

Prescription patterns 

Of course, you should know which networks are already prescribing competitor drugs. This enables to you plan competitor displacement or find gaps in the market. Knowing what other therapies hospitals and health systems are prescribing gives you insight into complications their patients might be facing. Similarly, comorbidity insights can be a window into potential drug interactions for your patient cohort—offering you a way in. 

Integration level 

Understanding system-level integrations makes it easier for you to discover the full range of services a health system provides. System III integration, for example, indicates that an IDN offers “cradle-to-grave” care: hospitals, clinics, labs, hospices, and nursing homes are all in the same system. This makes it easier for clinicians to coordinate care, impact payer reimbursements, and deliver a positive patient outcome. 

Affiliations, referrals, and relationships 

Is the health system a GPO member? Are clinicians referring a significant number of patients to out-of-network care facilities? How many facilities of each type belong to the IDN? 

These are just a few questions you should be able to answer before reaching out to your target IDN. If a group purchasing organization (GPO) controls the majority of an IDN’s pharmaceutical purchasing, you may have to forge or improve your firm’s relationship with that GPO to make a sale. However, a growing number of health systems are using their market share to act as their own GPOs, which means there is one less middleman between you and your patient cohort. 

When a care facility or health system is referring a significant number of patients out-of-network, that is an indication that the initial care provider lacks a specialist or therapy—and that is where you come in. If your patient cohort is being referred to other providers, you may be in a position to offer a solution that prevents patient leakage. 

Identifying the types of care facilities within a health system can help you target the “right” IDN for your therapy. If you have a drug that must be administered by a clinician—by injection or infusion, for example—then you’ll likely want to target more specific facilities than if your drug was administered orally. In this case, you may want to target IDNs made up of primarily inpatient facilities or clinics, which have the staff and care capacity to deliver such treatments. For this same reason, a health system with a high volume of imaging centers or retail clinics might not be as good a fit. 

Every IDN is different in its structure and management, and it is up to your firm to do research and determine the qualities that indicate a good fit for your therapy. 

Approaching your target IDN 

Now that you’ve identified the health system treating your ideal patient cohort and researched its network components, it’s time to reach out. 

Build your value proposition 

The key to success is, very often, preparedness. In a sales conversation, this includes developing a compelling value proposition. An effective value prop provides prospective clients critical, concise information about your drug in a way that differentiates your therapy from competitors. 

First and foremost, this means each member of your sales team should have a firm grasp on the wider healthcare industry and how your drug fits within it. Physician leaders and decision-makers are juggling responsibilities, and they don’t have extra time to spend learning about a new product. It’s up to your team to deliver them a clear understanding of what your drug is, how it’s used, and the impact it will have on their bottom line. 

This is where your research comes in. Say you’ve developed a drug that treats neuropathy in diabetic patients. If you know a hospital (or multiple hospitals) within an IDN is reporting higher-than-average readmission rates for patients with diabetic nerve pain, you can use that information to position your drug as a cost-saving measure. Healthcare leaders, like most of us, appreciate saving money.

Find a key opinion leader in the organization 

Our last recommendation is to find a key opinion leader (KOL) or another influencer within the care center or IDN you’re targeting. KOLs can be valuable resources at various stages of the drug development and sales process. Here, you’ll want to ask them for insights on current methodologies, patient experience, and your point(s) of contact. They can also raise awareness of your therapy in conversations with colleagues, affiliates, and facility leaders.

Don’t limit yourself here—while many KOLs are flagged as such, feel free to branch out and contact the clinicians who best fit your needs. Sometimes that’s a physician who has been published in medical journals that focus on your target diagnosis. Other times, it might be a clinician who sees a high volume of your patient cohorts.

Learn more 

At the end of the day, successfully approaching IDNs with a drug or therapy is about engaging your resources and doing your research. 

Are you looking for more information on how other BioTech and Pharmaceutical companies operate? Watch our on-demand webinar, From The Front Lines: How Pharma and Biotech Firms Apply Data-Driven Strategies to Sell into Healthcare.

Host Maggie Fortune will demonstrate how attendees can find your addressable market, track patient journeys, effectively leverage data in strategy planning, and more. 

Definitive Healthcare

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Definitive Healthcare

This blog was written by a former contributor at Definitive Healthcare.At Definitive Healthcare, our passion is to transform data, analytics and expertise into healthcare…

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