Newbie shop Entrée Health was established as a division of Cline Davis & Mann—now CDM New York—in 1997, re-launched as CDM Managed Markets in 2001, and finally broke out as a standalone agency dedicated to access and reimbursement in early 2010.
According to managing partner Nina Manasan Greenberg, PhD, the inception of the original branch within CDM was formed “as a reflection of the fact that one of our big clients in the agency, Pfizer, had started to do some marketing, as opposed to just using sales folks in the area of payer marketing.”
“What our agency does is it specializes in communicating with the organizations that pay for healthcare,” says Greenberg's executive cohort, managing partner Chuck Wagner. “So, that could be a health plan, or a pharmacy benefit manager, a specialty pharmacy—any one of a number of different types of companies.”
Entrée's specialty is access and reimbursement marketing, which Wagner breaks down in the following ways: “Access means that the product, or the service, is covered by that company. In other words, they'll pay for it. Most of our business is with drugs: if you go to a doctor and they write a prescription, if you go to the pharmacy to pick up your drug, access means that your insurance company will cover that drug for you, or cover most of the drug for you.”
Reimbursement, on the other hand, has less to do with, whether the drug is covered or not, says Wagner: “It has more to do with, ‘For you, as a patient, what hurdles are you going to have to jump over in order to get the drug?' It may be that the cost of the drug, while it's covered, is still too expensive for you. It may be that the cost of the drug is covered, but that the company covering it requires some documentation to say why you need this drug at this moment.”
The agency currently has a headcount of about 95, and is “trying to absorb another group which would add another five people,” says Wagner. Last year Entrée was behind the launch of five drugs and one marketing program, with just one account loss. “We worked with Trovis [Pharmaceuticals], with the Viibryd account, until they were sold,” explains Greenberg. “It's the type of loss that we're proud of, because we helped them sell themselves to the big kids.”
Entrée's current account roster includes the following pharmas: Amgen; Eisai; Genentech (wet age-related macular degeneration injectable Lucentis); MedImmune (influenza vaccine FluMist, as well as some other smaller accounts); Novartis (with their payer customer marketing group); Novo Nordisk (diabetes portfolio brand marketing, and some additional accounts); and, Pfizer (arthritis drug Celebrex, cholesterol giant Lipitor, and Zyvox, for skin infections).
When asked to consider the characteristics that make Entrée's work unique, Greenberg deliberates: “We actually have four corporate values that really drive the work that we do, so that might be a way of really thinking about who we are. Those are substance, style, conviction and grace. Each one of those is something that we share with the CDM group, which is our parent company, but are very much what drive us on a day to day basis as Entrée Health, and are actually in fact very specific to us in the payer arena.”
As far as future challenges for the shop are concerned, Wagner gives a simple and definitive answer —healthcare reform.
“We do have the beliefs that healthcare, and the delivery and payment for healthcare, will change dramatically over the next three years,” he says. “That will change very specifically how Entrée Health behaves, who our clients are, and what our clients need to do to be successful in the area of access and reimbursement.”