Develop a Proactive, Dedicated HOL Team Using Industry Benchmarks and Best Practices
As payer demands mount, payer liaison groups have become a critical component of the reimbursement puzzle in both the US and single-payer markets. Whether they are called health outcomes liaisons (HOLs), managed care liaisons (MCLs) or something else, these teams combine their expertise in economics and clinical science to communicate product value to payers and earn formulary spots for their drugs.
This study contains benchmarks and best practices for the management of existing payer liaison teams and the development of new ones (collectively referred to as HOL teams). The study’s metrics explore team resources and infrastructure, as well as HOL activity levels and payer interactions. Because HOL team effectiveness relies so heavily on personnel, the study’s findings also break down compensation as well as ideal HOL education and experience.
Top Reasons to Review This Report
Right-size and position your HOL team to maximize impact: Examine real-company structures and see why many leading companies place HOLs under the medical affairs structure. Compare team sizes and ratios (commercial account rep-to-HOL and field manager-to-HOL metrics) to determine ideal staffing numbers and budget allocation.
Assemble an HOL team with superior skills and diverse experience: Find the right mix of educational and healthcare experience and competitive compensation to attract and retain high-caliber liaisons at different levels. Equip these new hires — and support ongoing personnel development — with well-designed training programs.
Strengthen payer relationships and build a convincing product dossier: Compare benchmarks and rankings to see how often — and with which tools — teams should communicate with payers. Explore timelines to determine the right time for HOL brand support and ensure the best use of resources. Discover how top companies align messages across teams and coordinate HOLs with other field forces to deliver a strong product story.
Key Questions that This Study Answers
1) How many HOLs should my company have on staff?
2) How much budget should be allocated to the HOL team?
3) What education and experience should an ideal HOL candidate possess?
4) How often should an HOL communicate with a payer account?
5) At what point in a product’s development should HOLs begin supporting it?
The following finding is excerpted from the full report's Executive Summary:
HOL Teams Do Not Need Tremendous Headcounts to Be Effective
Compared to other pharma field forces such as sales, or even MSL groups, HOL teams do not maintain — or need — nearly as many outside reps to successfully complete their duties. Figure E.7 shows that surveyed companies’ US teams range between 3 and 14 HOLs. This data spans Top 10 companies’ teams down to very small biotech companies’ HOL groups. Typically with pharma field forces, such variances in company size reveal large discrepancies in those field forces’ staffing levels.
For HOL teams, however, this is not the case. HOL teams do not have nearly the number of targets as other field forces. The number of payers, even in payer-heavy markets like the US, is limited. Though the largest of payers do have regional offices in addition to their corporate locations, interviewed executives reveal that visiting these regional centers is not important beyond simply showing payers how important they are to their companies. Key reimbursement decisions happen almost exclusively at the corporate offices making them the real target audience.
Combining the limited number of targets with the fact that payers almost universally ask to see only one HOL per company — and that visits be limited to a few times annually (see Figure E.8) —it is not surprising that HOL teams run with small headcounts. Even the largest pharmaceutical companies have smaller HOL headcounts. As HOL teams’ approach shift from reactive to proactive and in light of increased requests for HEOR type information by payers, these numbers could increase, though not by a great deal.