Overall revenue in 2016 was flat at $40 million
“We will continue to focus on growing the business, in both our core field of managed markets and also in our consulting work”
“The industry is hoping the FDA will approve drugs more quickly. Not only will that reduce costs, but it will also enable us to bring a number of new products to market that will deliver value”
After almost two decades of focusing on managed care, few agencies are better placed to give commentary for the shifting dynamics of healthcare decision-making than The Access Group.
“Five or 10 years ago, physicians would make the prescribing decisions, and then we saw the payers make those decisions,” says CEO Eric Bishea. “But now we see integrated delivery networks and accountable care organizations putting their own systems in place, which requires a different value proposition, different tools, and a nuanced message.”
This is one of several areas in which the agency invested in 2016. While revenue was flat at $40 million, there were several promising developments for the Berkeley Heights, New Jersey–based agency, which increased employee count to 134.
First is the increase in oncology work — hardly surprising, given the number of new cancer compounds and indications before the FDA. Second is the infusion of digital technology in the firm’s work. While the thirst for digital among patients and physicians has been well documented, Bishea sees that enthusiasm extending into the realm of managed markets. “For the first time, you see companies saying, ‘We need to bring these tools in an electronic format to the payer decision-makers because it will resonate with them,’” he notes.
Third is a trend toward AOR assignments. “Clients are hiring us not only for projects, but also as a strategic partner. It works great for both sides,” he continues.
And fourth is the expansion of consulting assignments. “We have made such an impact in getting involved in stage II and stage III product development. It has created a great platform for us to establish relationships early on,” Bishea says, citing Amgen, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Juno Therapeutics as client examples.
The agency bolstered its consulting group via the hires of VPs Faruk Abdullah and Kari Edwards. It also added firepower to its core managed markets group with two new client services SVPs, Jodi Ceberio and Dana Regan.
Elsewhere in the organization, chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stefanacci was tapped as a member of President Donald Trump’s transition team for healthcare.
“It has really been exciting to have an employee of ours be part of those decisions that will shape the policies we are going to see in the future,” explains Bishea.
At the same time, he notes that the uncertainty around healthcare reform has brought the agency a lot of new business. “Many of our clients are trying to get their heads around what the outcomes might be. So with pricing strategy, what you do is build a number of different scenarios,” Bishea adds. “Pharma companies are going to want tools to help physicians navigate the systems and the policy changes because that is paramount for them from a reimbursement standpoint.”