With healthcare costs rising and competitors — both branded and generic — flooding markets, life science companies face unrelenting pressure to justify costs and prove product value. To communicate with payers and secure the best reimbursement, companies increasingly deploy health outcomes liaisons (HOLs).
HOLs forge connections with key target audiences by communicating critical health economics and outcomes research (HEOR) data. Trailblazing companies have assembled elite HOL teams focused on market access priorities, and they support these groups with extensive resources and quality ongoing training.
Developed from the rich insights of experienced managers and in-the-field liaisons, this study’s data — including team structures and staffing levels, core HOL activities, compensation benchmarks and profiles of groups in the US, EU and emerging markets — will help you optimize your HOL team.
Meet team needs through structure
As a newer function, HOLs groups do not have an industrywide, standard structure. Examine benchmarks and case studies to weigh the benefits and disadvantages of different approaches, and see how leading companies clarify HOL and MSL roles.
Solidify payer relationships
Cultivating relationships is a key HOL responsibility — and a large part of measuring ROI. Discover when and how to engage payer organizations and learn simple strategies for making the most of visits.
Recruit and retain the ideal HOL
Outcomes liaisons possess a unique skill set, making them harder to recruit. Gain a competitive edge with real-company compensation benchmarks, and ensure professional advancement by establishing training modules. Discover five potential career tracks used by top-performing companies to keep staff motivated and invested in company success.
The following excerpt is taken from Chapter 1, “Building an Effective HOL Group.” It explains how companies manage HOL groups and MSL groups, with a focus on clarifying each team’s roles and responsibilities. The full chapter explores HOL team structure, showcases budget and staffing benchmarks and examines the group’s involvement through a compound’s lifecycle. It also explores the future of the HOL role.
Overlap and Collaboration with MSL Groups
At some companies, according to a few interviewed executives, HOLs serve the same clients as MSLs. This arrangement can make it more challenging to justify a standalone HOL group. One executive said he had seen HOL groups created and then dismantled because they never found their position in the company, in part because of shared duties with MSLs. Another executive, who has never worked with an HOL team but had worked with many MSL groups providing outcomes presentations, did not understand how most companies could find enough work for HOL teams to stay busy.
At most companies with established HOL teams, however, the roles are clearly defined. Figure 1.17 shows the percentage of companies at which HOLs and MSLs call on the same clients — in the United States, only 18% of survey respondents indicated that this is the case. An overlap of clients was more likely in the EU, where the dividing lines between payers and physicians are less clear. Two-thirds of companies in emerging markets report an overlap between HOLs and MSLs; there are fewer company employees serving clients in emerging markets, and in many instances, the groups themselves may overlap.
The following excerpt is taken from Chapter 2, “Establishing Credibility Through an Ideal HOL Profile.” It discusses one of several tracks that companies establish to create a clear HOL career path. The full chapter explores the ideal HOL profile, including educational background and skills. It includes benchmarks for HOL compensation and activities.
Map a New Hire’s Projected Career Path
Once HOLs are hired, retention means more than competitive compensation; regular bonuses or pay increases will not keep personnel interested in their jobs forever. Companies must continually offer new opportunities, such as leadership roles or simply expanded responsibility. In fact, the number one concern expressed by interviewed HOL managers relates to this issue. As one manager noted, “At most companies, there’s a brick wall as far as advancement.” HOL groups are in the awkward stage of being old enough to have experienced personnel and young enough to not have anywhere for them to go. Unfortunately, this creates unrest among personnel who may begin looking for opportunities elsewhere — at another company, perhaps, or in a completely different internal position. The following subsections address five possible career tracks that are either established or under consideration at different companies.
Path 1: Maintain an Official Management Track
The most obvious career progression is into management. Unfortunately, while this track technically exists, most companies do not have more than one or two of these positions, limiting its potential as a viable career path. With anywhere from a handful of HOLs to about a dozen, most teams rely on one team lead, usually a manager or director, to facilitate HOL activities and training. Many leads also manage their own group of payer contacts, making team management more of a part-time job.
One company has found another way to reward leadership credentials. It wants to expand its research collaborations with payers. The current plan is to either appoint an internal outcomes liaison with leadership potential and a high level of research experience, or to look externally for someone to fill the position. The main responsibility for the role would be to manage the overall research direction for the team. Activities would include investigating potential areas for collaboration, providing training for other liaisons and coordinating the types of discussions the team would have with payers. While filling this position is still a goal, the company’s liaison director feels confident that it will greatly increase his company’s relationships with managed care organizations and other payers.