Building an Effective IDN Strategy in Oncology

The oncology market is expected to reach $150BN by 2020 driven by a number of new launches and increasing costs for new cancer drugs. In addition, we are already seeing an explosion in the number and variety of cancer treatments, and the creation of myriad new pathways. This has led to hospitals and IDNs taking a more hands-on approach to treating and managing cancer than ever before. Add in increasing costs, and it becomes clear why IDNs are standardizing pathways and protocols.

There is also a growing trend in which the site of care is shifting from oncology clinics to larger hospitals and IDNs2. Our recent study of a top 10 oncology drug shows that the top 100 accounts/IDNs usually make up more than 50% of a drug’s total business3. All of this means that it’s no longer optional for your company to have an IDN strategy—it needs to be a core part of your go-to-market strategy.

A deeper understanding of the business at the IDN level

In order to develop a strong IDN strategy, you’ll need to take a multi-pronged approach that considers several factors such as:

It takes a unified understanding of the business at the IDN level to feed these work streams. While there are a variety of data sources and solutions which claim to provide reliable account to MD affiliations, lack of tumor or therapy area specificity greatly reduces the value of an out-of-the-box solution. So, what does an effective solution look like?

A case study on how to build a solid foundation for IDN strategy

159 Solutions adopted a comprehensive approach to developing a solid foundation for IDN strategy for a large oncology product. Ultimately, we arrived at an integrated source of affiliations based on five core elements:

Let’s go over our methods for each of the five areas.

Start with a good base

To build up a good base, 159 tapped into several sources for affiliations. In many cases, we used data from traditional sources as a base. These sources have a phone validation component built into them. Then we used data from transactional claims to help us understand how physicians and institutions are connected. Finally, we found further verification and a deeper understanding of this information through field-reported CRM data.

Integrate public data

We identified publicly available datasets4 as a key component in oncology. This is especially true because the patient population is primarily over 65. Given that public data capture for Medicare B is better than traditional claims data, integrating the affiliations from public data helped resolve the noise and false positives that might occur within other data sources. We have mapped the affiliations for ~14k Oncologists to about 1814 Organizations/IDNs. We have shown time and again that incorporating publicly available data sets increases the confidence in affiliations.

Incorporate therapy context

This is where most solutions fail, because affiliations need context to be truly effective. There are only about 14,000 oncologists, so one might assume we could simply map their affiliations. However, understanding the context of the therapy is crucial to match the right affiliation with the right organization. In this case, knowing that an oncologist was working with a urology clinic showed us the relevance to a prostate cancer medication. Afterwards, we went on to perform a manual scrub for the top 100 accounts.

Review and refine with field input

Next, we reviewed the data and used field input to make further refinements. The key was to not only perform this effectively, but to simultaneously show field teams how the additional information would benefit them. Our reports and insights, delivered after the affiliation process, accomplished this task by showing the field new ways to better manage their businesses.

Ensure the process is live and maintained

Once all of this was completed, it was time to ensure that the process was live, and to establish systems for ongoing maintenance. We recommended best practices to help manage things over time, and supported a semester review of affiliations using an easy to use field application.

Final thoughts

By using these five key elements to develop a strong foundation, we enabled our client to fully implement and maintain their new IDN strategy for the long run. There were additional benefits, as well. For instance, they developed reports to support field business planning and executive dashboards. We feel confident that over time the positive results will only continue to grow.

In the rapidly-growing world of cancer treatment and standardized pathways, developing a strong IDN strategy isn’t just a good idea. It’s crucial to future success. If you’d like to learn more about how to optimize your approach, let’s talk. 159 Solutions is here to help you build the strategy that’s just right for your organization.



Deepak Gopinath

Deepak is a Principal at 159 Solutions. He has over 12 years of experience in the health care industry delivering strategic and analytical consulting engagements. He has worked across clients in Pharmaceuticals, Payers/PBMs, Providers and Medical Devices delivering projects in sales strategy and effectiveness, Incentive Plan design, Sales Operations, Sales and Marketing Analytics and Business Intelligence. Prior to 159 Solutions, Deepak worked at ZS Associates and Booz Allen. He has an MBA from Ross School of Business and Bachelors degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

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