24. April 2012 15:04
After all the hullaballoo, the controversial Health & Social Care Bill quietly achieved Royal Assent during the afternoon of the final Tuesday in March. One suspects that the difficulties the Government had in getting the legislation passed through will be dwarfed by the challenges the NHS faces in implementing its complex measures. Tuesday 27 March was most likely the calm before the storm.
At present, the NHS is in transition. Within twelve months, 151 Primary Care Trusts will be replaced by circa 250 Clinical Commissioning Groups, spearheaded by a National Commissioning Board. Of course we already know this. But while we wait for the momentous occasion to arrive, how does the pharmaceutical industry approach the critical issue of targeting its key customers?
As Mike Sobanja, Chief Executive of NHS Alliance, notes in this issue, pharma is currently embarking on a new game: “spot the commissioner”. PCTs are currently legally accountable for around 80% of a total NHS budget of roughly £110 billion. Of this, approximately £30 billion has already been delegated to CCGs operating in shadow format. The challenge for medical sales professionals does not end at identifying who holds the purse strings for that £30 billion. The trick, once they have, is to understand their customers’ environments – and their commissioning intentions in their own specific disease areas – in order to have the best chance of securing a slice of the pie.
The next twelve months will provide the strongest test yet for the industry’s recently-acquired penchant for the account management model. Faced with a health service in transition and a ‘confusion of NHS customer-groups’ (Ed. – the most appropriate of collective nouns), the battle ahead will be tough.
Only account managers with the most robust local knowledge will win.
Chris Ross, Editor.