Healthcare has been in the international spotlight for the last two years. The issues that arose during the pandemic surrounding global access to care – often as part of a discussion about vaccine access – has led many people to reconsider the stark inequalities across the globe. But some organisations have been thinking about and addressing these issues for decades. Axios International, a consulting firm that specialises in healthcare access, is one of those organisations. Their unique approach is called “creative access strategy”, and to date, that strategy has allowed almost 10 million patients in 100 countries to access the care they otherwise would not have received.
Before Axios implemented “creative access strategy”, no matter where the medicine was being sold, pharmaceutical companies utilised a one-price-fits-all pricing model. But prices that were affordable for governments and patients in the US or Europe have long been completely out of reach for potential patients in developing countries. For many decades, pharmaceutical companies have proven that they would rather ignore a market than enter a market that loses the company money. We know that these companies are not NGOs, and they are not altruistic; they are businesses with bottom lines, just like every other. They needed companies like Axios to demonstrate to them how many countries could become economically viable with the right approach.
Axios’s creative access strategy assesses affordability, and economic models calculate the commercial viability, sustainability, and value of a market access strategy based on a region or country’s average patient’s ability to pay for a given treatment. Their affordability modelling is a unique methodology that segments the patient population in a given country or region according to the population’s affordability levels. Their economic modelling calculates incremental profits and expected patient reach for various access scenarios, based on the Affordability model patient segmentation, market share, and sales targets. These facts and figures give pharmaceutical companies the hard data, and the confidence, to enter new markets and help new patients.
As CEO Joseph Saba points out, COVID-19 drastically affected the way healthcare is distributed on the global level. The pandemic “brought many healthcare challenges that our employees dealt with in the most fantastic ways, even at the peak of the crisis”. They used a lot of lessons learned in the 90s with the HIV crisis, but many “seem to have forgotten these lessons or thought they only apply to HIV – the patients we serve need the same level of attention”, he insists. Getting patients the attention they need requires not just pharmaceutical companies, but a collection of stakeholders: physicians, support groups, charities and governments to create strong support networks. Mr Saba believes stakeholder involvement, especially outside of hospitals, is the future of healthcare access, “Focusing on what happens to the patient outside the hospital and expanding where care happens while addressing how gathering and utilising data with digital services can serve patients’ needs is vital”. As the pandemic subsides, let us hope that we do not forget the lessons we have learned about the need for global access to care.