Hanover’s Middle East Healthcare Business Barometer, published this week, shows the strong positive attitude that business has to the Middle East markets. This may not be surprising given the year-on-year increases in health spend in the region, but the growing market opportunity does not guarantee success for companies investing and selling products and services.
The increase in insurance models in different markets has brought a more commercial mindset amongst payers, who are under pressure from forces such as the fluctuating oil price and the high and growing burden of non-communicable disease, including diabetes and cancer. Not surprisingly, payers are learning cost containment methods from other markets, particularly Europe which led the world in this over recent years. Companies stated that payer focus on value and price is the fifth most important challenge to growth in our Business Barometer, but we predict this will grow in importance in the future. Regulatory delays to access will shorten as systems improve, but at the same time, processes to manage cost through value assessment, procurement, and prescribing controls will become more sophisticated. In response, companies need international expertise to boost local capabilities.
Good communication takes account of the individual market dynamics and priorities and emphasises the financial, productivity, or policy benefits of a product or service to payers and the health system.
In addition to the technical sides of market access, smart and strategic communication is important to articulate value and argue the case for access. Good communication takes account of the individual market dynamics and priorities and emphasises the financial, productivity, or policy benefits of a product or service to payers and the health system. It can educate and support third-party patient and clinical advocacy groups in their independent calls for access. Disease awareness campaigns can empower patients and drive greater prioritisation of undervalued therapy areas. Communications should also protect and enhance the reputation of companies in their activities.
In Europe, communications is increasingly blended with market access and policy approaches to be part of a company’s overall approach to value demonstration. It is hard to drive uptake of a product or service without recognition of the value proposition, messaging and context in which sales are being made. We have seen western markets become sceptical of the additional value of the newer diabetes medicines over older, generic alternatives, and major challenges can occur for breakthrough medicines to treat cancer and rare and genetic diseases, where per-patient costs often attract scrutiny and criticism. It is no longer enough to simply communicate the clinical benefits of a treatment, technology, or service.
All approaches must, of course, be tailored to individual local market needs and circumstances, but powerful lessons in how to succeed can be learned from other regions. The growing Middle East markets are a great opportunity for healthcare businesses. And it is the role of strategic communications consultancies to guide and support companies in overcoming the challenges they face.