With 7 percent growth in 2009, Boehringer Ingelheim continues to defy conventional growth in a 1 to 3 percent market uptake for R&D-based companies in the Netherlands. Perhaps by no coincidence, its above-average performance is attributed to a different sales strategy. “Our approach in the Netherlands today is very different from what it was 10 years ago,” says general manager Xander Bos. “Our approach then dictated that the larger the share of voice, the more market success—of course backed by the best products. Today we have several products in the market but share of voice is not central in our approach anymore. The size of our organization is still the same as it was five years ago, but over the past few years we have decreased the number of our sales representatives. Instead, we now have other people working in the market with more of a focus on account management activities.”
What has become increasingly central, however, is Boehringer Ingelheim’s focus on engaging industry stakeholders to improve patient care. The flagship program to achieve this is Partners in Care Solutions (PICASSO). Co-founded in 2001 with Pfizer at the University Hospital of Maastricht, PICASSO consistently unites stakeholders in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)— pharmaceutical companies, specialists, physicians, patients, and dieticians—to optimize quality of care.
PICASSO initiates activities in four areas to achieve its goal: quantifying and measuring quality of care; supporting scientific research; aiding local innovations in COPD intervention; and increasing COPD awareness.
To date PICASSO has completed 12 scientific studies in COPD and has supported 11 daily practices in care optimization. PICASSO has become a respected partner in the Dutch healthcare landscape with closely established partnerships with renowned organizations such as The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development. Since 2004 PICASSO has also supported 15 projects that optimize care for COPD patients. According to Boehringer Ingelheim, COPD treatment over the past six years has increasingly moved toward identification, self management, spirometry, and undoing recurring bottlenecks associated with smoking prevention. A major testament to PICASSO’s success has been helping local caretakers recognize and circumvent bottlenecks in the care process—the starting point for discussion with caretakers that ultimately garners support for local initiatives.