Making Access Accessible, Learnings from the WCG Access Roundtable

Posted by: in Communication Strategy, Healthcare Insights, Integrated Communications, Public Relations Practice on July 14, 2011

On Thursday 7 July, WCG and The Holmes Report launched a roundtable series.  The focus of our inaugural event was Access (not market access – yes, we believe there is a difference!)

In short – below are some of the key takeaways that left each panelist and audience member with some food for thought…An in-depth analysis and report will be available in a couple weeks and will include exclusive interviews with the panelists, so stay tuned.

 1)       Access goes beyond Market Access, it has evolved

When I hear market access – I immediately think of a specific drug, medicine, treatment, management option, etc.  It is a limiting term in the healthcare world we now live in. During the WCG Access roundtable – panelists hotly debated issues that went beyond market access and the access to treatment. Access has evolved into a multitude of factors  – access to information, treatment, education, services…you get my point.  With this understanding, the term Access naturally lends itself to include each stakeholder relevant to the healthcare debate. These stakeholders, and it should come as no surprise, include the patient, the policymaker, the regulator, the provider and the supplier – Access defines and guides the way in which these stakeholders must work together to provide health and wellbeing and healthcare services and treatment.

2)       Delivering Value will only result from transparent and honest debate between stakeholders in Access

We can all agree that relationships are important in our personal lives; how important are they in our professional lives – just as much, right?  We maintain good relationships through honesty and understanding. Between the hours of 9 and 5, however, those two essential criteria for a healthy relationship are often lost.  We focus on goals that are limited to our perspective and place in the field without recognizing that we are working with 10 other players to reach one ultimate goal – delivering value for patients to promote health and wellbeing.

3)       Reorganization – Its not only a structural transition

In an effort to improve Access, many biopharma organizations are making structural organizational changes. Companies are breaking silos between marketing, health economics, medical and access functions (to name a few) and are promoting integrated working.  We can see similar restructuring from healthcare systems around the world. I suspect that most employees within these functions are measured against an access-related goal (and if they aren’t now, they will be soon).  During the roundtable, it was hotly debated whether this would be enough – and there was consensus that, “No, silo-busting doesn’t translate into integrated working” within an organization nor externally with partner stakeholders.   The shift we need must be rooted in cultural and behavioral change – not an easy task for the healthcare providers nor its suppliers.

4)       Trust and Communications sit at the heart of Access

After two and a half hours of debate and honest discussion at the roundtable, the panelists and audience members came to many conclusions (to be shared in our full-report).  They did all agree, however, that without trust and communication, we cannot successfully improve access to healthcare – we all will fail in achieving the ultimate goal. Healthcare providers and suppliers must find themselves embedded along the entire patient pathway in health and wellbeing and not sit at just one point.  How we do this is not going to be easy as we move further into a world in which economic and financial crashes will be the forces of change – but as long as we work in partnership, we will improve patient access.

Personal note, as communicators we recognize the above isn’t an easy task. We aim to make Access accessible by creating forums and channels in which all the key players in healthcare can come together and relate.

An in-depth analysis of the WCG Access Roundtable is currently underway. We want to make sure the learnings and debate live beyond the walls of a room. If you’re interested in receiving a copy or just further information, please let us know below with comments or email us at

For those Twitter users, a real-time summary from the event can be found by searching #wcgaccessRT.

If you’d like to participate in future events, or just want to share your perspective – don’t hesitate to get in touch.  Through conversation and debate, we go further – so let’s go ahead (together).

For more information on panelists:

Jon Sussex, Deputy Director at the Office of Health Economics

Mike Sobanja, CEO NHS Alliance

Helen Johnson, Helen Johnson Consulting

Elaine Cruikshanks, Acumen Public Affairs

Nigel Breakwell, WCG

Paul Holmes, The Holmes Report (moderator)

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