US VS Europe: 4 market differentiators to consider for your healthcare communications

As a specialist healthcare communications agency we often get asked about the differences between US and European markets, and why Europe needs a different approach when it comes to healthcare marketing and PR strategies.

Successful medical marketing in a highly value-based European environment requires a strong emphasis on demonstrating the value of healthcare products, aligning with the varying priorities of healthcare systems, and a clear focus on improved patient outcomes vs value for money. Understanding the specific payment models, pricing mechanisms, and reimbursement requirements in each region is crucial for a successful market entry and marketing strategy. Using a specialist healthcare marketing agency will help you navigate the environment.

1. Price Controls and Reference Pricing

The US has a more market-driven approach to pricing, with higher flexibility in setting prices for pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Negotiations with payers and Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) are common. Whereas, in European value-based markets healthcare marketers will see price controls and reference pricing systems used to manage healthcare costs. Prices are often determined based on comparisons to other countries or set by regulatory authorities, limiting the flexibility of pricing strategies.

2. Payment Models

The US healthcare system often relies on a fee-for-service model, where providers are paid based on the quantity of services delivered, which can incentivise volume over value. This model has been shifting toward value-based care but is not as prevalent as in Europe. In European value-based healthcare models there is more focus on outcomes, cost-effectiveness, and patient satisfaction. Reimbursement is often linked to achieving positive health outcomes, and healthcare providers are incentivised to provide high-quality care efficiently.

3. Health Technology Assessment (HTA)

While there are elements of HTA in the US, it is not as structured or centralised as in many European countries. HTA plays a more significant role in determining the value and adoption of healthcare technologies in Europe. European markets frequently require comprehensive HTA evaluations to assess the clinical and economic value of healthcare technologies. Successful marketing often involves providing robust evidence to support a product’s value proposition.

4. Market Access and Reimbursement

Market access in the US often involves negotiations with a multitude of private and public insurance providers and PBMs. Obtaining reimbursement can be complex, and access can vary by region and payer. In value-based European markets, achieving market access may require navigating a single-payer or a more centralised system with stricter evaluation criteria. It may involve demonstrating a product’s value and cost-effectiveness to gain approval for reimbursement.

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