Just because a new innovative medicine is discovered, it’s not guaranteed patients will have access to it. Eyoel Tsegay, a director in market access at AbbVie, is part of the team working to ensure timely access to innovative treatments that can make a real difference in patients’ lives. Here’s what a day in his life looks like.
I am usually up by 5 a.m. My mornings begin with coffee with my wife and playtime with the kids. Then one of us prepares breakfast for the kids while the other preps their school lunch and gear. Once the kids are ready to go, I head out to the office.
I work out of our brand new facility in South San Francisco. The site, which launched earlier this year, is magnificent – it’s located in the Bay Area, which is a fantastic hub for biotech, and has lots of great amenities that make my life easier, including a cafeteria, a gym and snacks on every floor. On my way to my desk, I grab some hummus and crackers, then take my first call right around 9.
Today it’s a check in with the leaders of market access, the team I’m a part of here at AbbVie. We focus on the ecosystem that exists between the manufacturers that develop medications, and the pharmacies that dispense them to patients. Here, there are multiple players – from payers, to distributors, hospital systems, provider groups, pharmacy networks and more – who can facilitate or hinder the delivery of new treatments.
Our goal as a team is to remove bottlenecks within the ecosystem so patients can get the treatments their doctor feels is right for them with as much ease as possible. Specifically, my team supports our oncology patients. Timely access for them is often crucial, as delays can impact outcomes and how patients navigate care.
I joined market access about five years ago, following a career as a pharmacist. My interest in pharmacy and health care overall is really rooted in my own upbringing. I grew up as a refugee, moving from one country to the next, without any formal ties to the different communities or access to state systems or infrastructure. Access to health care was out of reach for many of us, unless we were connected to someone who could extend the privilege to us, and health literacy was generally very low. Seeing this as a kid, I used to think, if I knew more about the field and could help people navigate treatment, I could help a lot of people. It’s how I learned just how important health care access is.
After our larger team meeting, I touch base with my team in a series of one on ones. First on the agenda is checking in with each person to see how they are doing and how their projects are progressing, discuss their challenges and offer support where needed. My goals ultimately are to empower my team and to set everyone up for success, and to do that, I try to be a good listener and coach.
Another important part of our conversations centers around the work of the integrated brand teams we partner with. These teams are responsible for marketing products under approved indications. We work closely with these teams to provide insights on topics like population health decision making, market access trends, payer challenges and patient affordability hurdles.
To do what we do, our team has to be knowledgeable about all the different things that have to be in place for health care providers to be able to prescribe a medication. For instance, the medication has to be covered by payers, available in their electronic medical records, allowed for use in payer’s formularies and so on. We also need a clear understanding of the patient demographics and their ability to afford the medication, given their insurance policy/benefit design, which typically varies. We share these insights with the teams responsible for marketing products under approved indications and educating health care decision makers.
Once my morning meetings are done, I order lunch from our online portal and pick it up in our cafeteria. Afterward, I meet with one of our agency partners to kick off a market research project. We do market research every year focusing on health care decision makers such as payers, health care systems and pharmacy networks to understand what is changing in the marketplace and where things are headed. These insights are important because our market is very dynamic. Conducting research helps us to confirm what we do and don't know, uncover blind spots and see around the bend so that we can think and act proactively and collectively to ensure our products maintain outstanding patient access.
I block off the last hour of my workday to review emails before heading home. When I come home, it’s family time, which means computers down, phones down. My wife and I have two little ones — a son who’s five and a daughter who’s three — and we use our evenings to spend quality time with them and take care of chores around the house.
Before I end my night, I look ahead to the remainder of the week. Even with a calendar full of meetings, I’m committed to moving forward because the reward is in the work itself. The chance to grow and constantly learn new things while simultaneously impacting peoples’ lives in a meaningful way – it’s all here.
Email: [email protected]