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March 16, 2017
Company of the Month March | ValueConnected
This month we are pleased to present ValueConnected as the Company of the Month of March. ValueConnected partners with medical companies and related investors to quantify and demonstrate the value of medical products, justifying their prices to market decision-makers. In 2013, the B2B firm for medical devices and diagnostic companies opened its office in The Hague in order to serve their European clients. Nowadays, the company has set up a network of 35 associates throughout Europe, United States and Latin America. They also have an office in Berlin and are planning to open an office by the end of the year in São Paulo. We spoke with the founder & Managing Director of ValueConnected, Mr. Ernesto M. Nogueira, about his business operations in The Netherlands.
From left to right: Derk Jan Statema (International Business Advisor WFIA), Wim Meijer (Project Manager ValueConnected), Ernesto M. Nogueira (Founder and Managing Director ValueConnected), Ilja van Haaren (Executive Director WFIA)
For those who are unfamiliar with ValueConnected, can you tell us a bit more about your company? “We are an international firm supporting the medical technology industry, mainly medical devices and diagnostics companies. The aim of ValueConnected is to help our clients to identify, quantify and demonstrate the value of their medical products to decision-makers.
There has been a significant change in the healthcare industry as safety and efficacy are no longer sufficient to differentiate medical products. While in the past teams could differentiate products based on features and characteristics, commercial strategies must now be focused on addressing the needs of decision-makers with clear and quantifiable value messages.
The challenge is that not all teams know how to engage with decision-makers to demonstrate the value of medical products. Much more than technical aspects, the clinical and economic benefits are critical to answer to the market question of “why should the market pay for a certain medical product?”. And when you answer that, you demonstrate value.
It is important to note that the medical technology industry is the most innovative in the world, with one product launched every 50 minutes on average – that’s a lot of new products every month. Therefore, the question of value becomes the central point of focus for any medical company.”
Want to learn more about ValueConnected, please see their video:
Can you tell us a bit more about the network of associates of ValueConnected? “Besides being local, each one of the associates working with ValueConnected has a combination of market access knowledge and sales experience.
By market access knowledge I mean the understanding of what outcomes the market needs to see and how to calculate them. For example, certain European markets have the priority to reduce the period patients stay hospitalized without creating impact to quality of care. In order to demonstrate these results our teams apply methodologies within the Health Economics area and quantify the clinical and economic results to the business models of hospitals, clinics and other providers. This is the more technical side.
In addition, we all have what I call “street school experience”. There are many things that can only be learned by going through the challenges and pressure of selling medical products to doctors, purchasing committees and other decision-makers. Therefore, while the academic background of our associates range from bachelor to PhD, they all have medical sales experience.
And that’s where a big gap exists: most companies hire technical professionals (market access) to support commercial teams but do not consider the gap in between them. The typical results are accurate yet complex tools or analyses that are not properly deployed neither adopted by sales professionals. Likewise, in many situations commercial teams cannot understand exactly what exact clinical or economic outcomes they need to demonstrate. In that respect, each of our 35 associates is well aware of such gaps and brings both the market access knowledge and commercial experience to support our clients.”
Why did you choose to setup your office in The Hague? “My family and I were already living in The Hague since 2010, by that time an international medical device company had hired me to build and demonstrate the value of their products, especially on economic messages. Although the company was based in Amstelveen we chose to live in The Hague because of its international community, nice environment and, of course, the proximity to the sea. On top of this, it is very easy to commute from The Hague to anywhere in The Netherlands or to Schiphol, and from there to the world.”
You have over 20 years of experience in the international healthcare industry. Have you experienced any cultural differences between doing business in The Netherlands and doing business in – for example – Brazil? “While good sense and logical practices are applicable almost anywhere in business, the mechanics of building relationships are very different among countries.
For example, in Brazil it is important to establish some degree of relationship with the people you are interacting. This does not mean you need to become friends with everyone; however, you need to give time for others to get to know you as a person. Thus, it is common to include topics such as family, interests and other personal aspects during a business conversation in Brazil.
In contrast, I feel that conversations in The Netherlands are straightforward and to the point. There is a sense of respect for each other’s time and business conversations are conducted towards reaching a conclusion as quickly as possible. In the beginning this direct approach was a small challenge for me, although I eventually started to appreciate the Dutch way.
In fact, there are more commonalities than differences between both countries. For example, most people from Brazil and The Netherlands are naturally inclined to be flexible and adapt to different cultures.”
You expressed the intention of having your business extended to the US and Brazil by 2016. How have these plans worked out? “One of the strongest points of ValueConnected is our team of 35 associates based in 20 different countries, who speak the local languages and have established local relationships with doctors, hospital, payers and other stakeholders in the medical industry. Therefore, new offices are fully aligned with our strategy to deliver results locally.
We opened our first regional office in Berlin last month, which will operate as the local ValueConnected office for Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In addition, our German office will concentrate the operations in Eastern Europe, where we already have a well-established team.
Later this year we will open the Brazilian office in São Paulo to manage the projects and activities in the Americas and we aim to open our US office next year to centralize the company expansion efforts there.”
Any future plans or upcoming events you would like to share with us? “We have just chaired a medical technology commercial forum in Zurich last month and will present on a similar forum in the US in May. Also, we will chair the second edition of a market access/commercial event in Amsterdam later this year.
On top of all this, we will organize a few webinars along this year to share best practices and updated information on strategic topics, such as the future of the Affordable Care Act in the US with the new government there.
Having said this, we are always eager to meet people and new ideas. I am sure we will participate in more events than originally planned.”