It used to be that pharma companies could start with the new drugs—their inventions—when planning their go-to-market strategies, but that inside-out approach doesn’t work in an increasingly customer-centric marketplace. It’s time for drug manufacturers to transition from their inside-out business models to an outside-in approach, realigning their structures and rethinking their research and resources to better assess and adapt to the changing healthcare ecosystem, and to better meet their stakeholders’ evolving needs.


Taking an outside-in approach is about moving away from the traditional pharma commercial model of starting with the product or innovation and rather starting with the needs of customers and stakeholders, including patients, providers, payers and PBMs. An outside-in approach involves taking a step back to look at what is going on outside the laboratory.


That’s challenging for an industry that has historically been internally focused—from drug creation/innovation through clinical trials and on to regulatory approval. In the past, it was only after that internal process was complete that pharma companies would turn their attention externally, targeting physicians who, at the time, were the driving influencers of a drug’s success.


According to Pratap Khedkar, a managing principal at ZS and leader of the firm’s global pharmaceutical practice, pharma’s evolving customers are one of many driving forces behind this transformation. “The industry needs to change because the customers are also changing,” Khedkar said. “Payers and providers are trying to evolve as they see the healthcare ground shifting under them, and as a pharma company, you better get ahead of some of those effects before they reach you. The industry will look very different 10 years from now.”