Digital transformation in market access: don’t get lost in translation

Written by Darren McBride

Digital transformation is shaping the future of market access. Across all business sectors, technology is changing the way organisations interact with internal and external stakeholders, providing faster access to information and more efficient global collaboration.

For pharma, the opportunity to transform market access through digital innovation is significant. However, getting there isn’t simply about optimising clever technology – it’s about understanding your market, and being able to translate your business problems into meaningful digital solutions. The possibilities are endless, but unless digital capability is hardwired to real business needs, true transformation will never materialise. So how do you do it?

Leaders in other industries have often recognised a digital chasm between the business and IT, and put structures, strategies, and capabilities in place to close the gap and create a springboard for the future. If pharma is to do the same for market access, Digital Heads and Market Access business owners must partner and align around clear needs, so that transformational opportunities aren’t lost in translation. Success is contingent on two key things: building the right product – and building the product right. That isn’t an overnight fix, but with good external partners, fuelled by expert insight and great technology, it’s possible to jump the chasm and maximise digital innovation. If we want to transform market access, collaboration – in every sense of the word – is everything.


The power of technology to bring us closer together has never been more apparent. As the world adapts to the challenges of COVID-19, tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have kept business and families connected through lockdown. However, the most transformative applications go beyond the basics of virtual communication – they provide methodology, frameworks, and processes that help organisations respond to business-specific needs. This is particularly important in pharmaceutical market access, where having a systematic framework for payer engagement is the only way to satisfy diverse requirements across multiple regions and markets. Global collaboration isn’t just about connecting people, it’s about empowering them with the right information in the right format at the right time – to help them solve their challenges, quickly and effectively.

Designing those solutions requires an ability to create an enterprise architecture that reflects your organisation’s capabilities, problems and future needs. Other sectors, like banking and telecoms, have done this successfully – transforming their commercial models through ‘enterprise architecture thinking’ that maps digital capabilities to business needs. Online banking, for instance, is now light years away from where it was in the early 2000s – and will continue to move further because banks understand their market and have built their solutions accordingly. Fundamentally, they know that the drivers of transformation are rooted in the business not the technology. Pharmaceutical companies must adopt the same approach if they’re going to transform market access.

Market access challenges

The challenges of market access are multifactorial:

  • Teams are small but global, working across multiple products and multiple markets, often simultaneously.

  • The function’s sphere of influence is broad, touching every part of the product life cycle – from clinical and early-stage development, to clinical studies, payer submissions, launch, and real-world use.

  • The payer environment is complex; evidence must flex to the needs of diverse payer archetypes and respond to local/cultural nuances.

  • HTA, regulatory, and pricing environments are constantly evolving – in line with therapeutic advances and pressure on health spending.

With market access strategy now pivotal to commercial success, teams – at both global and affiliate levels – must be able to navigate a complex landscape where the needs of evidence-hungry decision-makers are always shifting. They need tools that help them systematically address risks and opportunities at every stage of the product journey, and insight to drive informed decisions that can future proof their strategy. These challenges can only be overcome through continuous global collaboration, and on-demand access to relevant real-time information. Cloud technology provides the perfect platform – but only if applications are engineered around resonant business problems and designed in collaboration with defined end-users. It isn’t easy, but there are alternative ways of accelerating the transformation journey.

Short-circuiting the digital transformation journey

The pharmaceutical workforce is understandably packed with sector-specific expertise. As a result, few companies have experience of enterprise architecture management and many struggle to translate their business problems into transformative digital solutions. Thankfully there’s another way. At PRMA Consulting, we’ve combined our expert understanding of market access with our proven experience in digital delivery, to create a suite of digital applications that speak to the real-world complexities of global market access. Leading players across the pharmaceutical industry are short-circuiting the challenge of creating internal capabilities, and leveraging these applications to supercharge their digital transformation.

The PRMA digital application suite – powered by expert insight and user-centred design – provides a systematic framework that supports strategic decision-making at every stage of the market access continuum:


  The PRMA Tracker® helps companies understand the pricing environment, HTA trends and evidence requirements, to identify gaps and inform strategy for their product.
  The PRMA Access Accelerator® connects market access professionals with expert payer networks – virtually – helping teams uncover real-time answers to specific research questions quickly and efficiently.
  The PRMA Healthcheck® provides insight-rich value assessment frameworks for assets at all stages of development, helping teams evaluate risks, opportunities, and payer requirements, informing evidence generation strategies, and driving readiness for payer submissions.
  The PRMA Navigator® improves the quality – and reduces the burden – of payer submissions, providing a robust framework for country-specific submissions. The application can auto-populate draft submissions that are 80% complete in as little as two weeks.

The applications take the hard yards out of digital transformation. Built around our forensic understanding of the evolving payer landscape – and supported by cloud and cybersecurity accreditation – they unlock global collaboration and help market access teams get the right data in the right format to the right people at the right time.

They’re the very definition of digital transformation that’s shaping the future of market access. To make the most of the opportunity, it makes sense to collaborate with experts that understand your market and can translate business need into digital innovation.

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