Q&A with Scott Dulitz, CEO of Mercalis
September 22, 2023
Mercalis CEO Scott Dulitz recently sat down with us for an inside look at TrialCard’s recent rebranding initiative that produced Mercalis. Our interview covered topics like the reason for the rebranding, how Mercalis works with its clients, and what it takes to stay nimble in the competitive life sciences commercialization marketplace.
Q: What prompted TrialCard’s recent rebrand to Mercalis?
A: Starting back in 2014, the TrialCard organization embarked on a deliberate strategy to diversify the company beyond our heritage in patient affordability into broader patient support services (aka Hub services). By 2017, the company had successfully executed this strategy and had established itself as a market leading patient support services provider. This is when we began to formulate our current vision of evolving into a fully integrated commercialization partner to the life sciences industry.
The execution of this new vision led to six years of robust organic growth and purposeful inorganic expansion which completely transformed the organization and caused us to rethink our legacy branding. Patient support services are increasingly the foundation upon which many life science companies build their commercialization strategy. Since we already offered market-leading patient support service capabilities it was logical for us to expand into new areas of commercialization such as payer and market access data, healthcare provider engagement, and commercialization strategy and insights.
As we expanded our technology capabilities and expertise in these new areas through acquisitions of companies such as Policy Reporter, Triangle Insights Group, and Archer Healthcare, it was apparent that now was the perfect time for a new name that better reflects who we are as an organization. While the TrialCard brand has served us well for our first 23 years of existence, we are now excited to go to market as Mercalis, a fully integrated commercialization partner to the life sciences industry.
Q: What current market conditions were important considerations in this process?
A: As more and more emerging biopharma companies prepare to launch their first-to-market products, or large pharma companies prepare to enter new therapeutic areas, it has become abundantly clear there is a strong demand for companies that can offer a fully integrated suite of commercialization solutions. Patient centricity is now the central theme to the life sciences commercialization process, so the Mercalis heritage in providing market-leading patient support services has really laid the foundation for building what is now a robust end-to-end commercialization platform.
As life sciences investment dollars and resources continue to flow into rare and orphan disease states, emerging technologies like cell and gene therapy, and complex therapeutic areas such as immunology and oncology, having the capabilities to partner with companies early on around product planning strategy and insights through product launch and ultimately inline execution was central to our vision for building out what is now Mercalis. Our clients have an insatiable appetite for market access data and insights, which has driven our acquisition strategy over the past several years and has resulted in an expanded set of capabilities in these areas. All these macro marketplace themes played a major role in the transformation of our company into Mercalis, an end-to-end commercialization partner to the life sciences industry.
Q: How did you arrive at the name Mercalis?
A: Mercalis is a Latin term closely related to “for commerce” or “commercial.” It’s also verbal shorthand for the phrase “commercialize life sciences”, which is a nod to the role the company plays in partnering with life science companies. Our goal is not only to complement their expertise with the ability to navigate the marketplace, but to also drive business results and enhance patient lives.
Q: What guided the design of the new brand identity, logo, and visual standards?
A: We needed to look the part of a company with deep industry expertise, technical capabilities, and a partnership mindset. Our new visual system, color palette, font, and imagery reflect our smart, dynamic, and personal style. Our new logo, with its notched platform icon, symbolizes the nuance of our approach to navigating complexity and accelerating value: an integrated platform with a spectrum of capabilities to support companies end to end, along with a strong allusion to guidance and communication. Mercalis has been a brand in the making for 20+ years. From our roots as early innovators in patient affordability, we’ve steadily expanded the ways we help life sciences companies succeed. Now, our brand verbally and visually aligns with our current market capabilities.
Q: What other elements are involved in the rebrand?
A: Along with a new name and aesthetic, we’ve taken the opportunity to re-examine and revamp some core company messaging, from solidifying our mission to how we present our integrated spectrum of services and capabilities. We wanted to enumerate the values and marketplace distinctions that separate us from competitors and, more importantly, help us successfully serve our partners.
Q: Can you describe what drives your new tagline “Navigate Complexity. Accelerate Value.”
A: I think we can all agree that the healthcare marketplace is complex. From wrestling with early-stage decisions around investing in different disease states and technologies to understanding the evolving healthcare provider landscape and the new “digitally savvy” patient to crafting pricing and payer engagement strategies; having a partner that can help navigate all this complexity has become a necessity. The healthcare marketplace is not only complex, but all the key stakeholders such as patient groups, healthcare professionals, payers, and investors are looking to accelerate the value associated with our life science customers products. That’s where Mercalis comes in, we can partner with life science companies to navigate all that complexity which ultimately accelerates the value their products can bring to the marketplace. Our new tagline succinctly captures what we do day in and day out to support our clients.
Q: Your focus is B2B in serving life science companies, but the Mercalis purpose/mission to “enhance patient lives” sounds consumer focused. Why?
A: As I mentioned earlier, patient centricity has become the central theme to the commercialization of new life sciences products. The Mercalis team has a rich 23-year history of enhancing patient lives through the services we provide, and this aligns perfectly with the goals and objectives of our life science clients. Our compassionate staff is very mission oriented from HUB agents who work directly with patients to secure access to healthcare products to engineers who architect and develop technology solutions that empower our services to consultants who help with crafting the strategies to bring these products to market, the end goal for all these associates is to enhance the lives of the patients we serve.
Q: How do you think about “integrated” commercialization?
A: We’ve been very thoughtful in how we’ve built the Mercalis platform to ensure our various commercialization solutions seamlessly integrate and complement each other. As an example, our data and insights segment typically gets involved with clients in the pre-launch phase to conduct healthcare provider market research, to facilitate patient journey mapping exercises, and to build payer landscape reports--which ultimately inform the design of our clients’ patient support service programs. Our cross-functional teams have created playbooks and handoffs where these deliverables are embedded within our design and implementation teams to ensure new programs incorporate these learnings.
In addition, our digital and technology offerings have been purpose-built to work across our various service lines to create the connective tissue that drives deep integration. Our investment in an enterprise Salesforce CRM technology has put us on one common platform, which makes it easier to extract commercialization data and insights for our clients.
Too many commercialization platforms are simply rollups of independently run companies that have little to no integration. Mercalis has been intentional since day one, ensuring our offerings flawlessly converge into a robust set of integrated commercialization solutions that help navigate complexity and accelerate value for our life science clients.
Q: Another term you use for your services is end-to-end; how do you define that and why is that important?
A: The life sciences commercialization value chain now spans the entire spectrum of the product development lifecycle. We believe it’s critical to have end-to-end solutions that support our clients at any phase along this journey. It’s becoming increasingly important to address commercialization considerations in early-stage clinical trial design and our strategy consulting team has the expertise to help our clients think through the implications of these decisions. As products get closer to launch, our teams can help with pricing and market access strategy, payer policy modeling, and healthcare provider segmentation and targeting, which are all crucial to the success of new brands. Once products have been approved, our digitally enabled patient access and affordability and healthcare provider engagement services ensure brands realize their full potential by supporting as many appropriate patients as possible. Our definition of end-to-end services is being a strategic partner that can add value at any phase of the commercialization process.
Q: What is the plan for some of your existing brand names, such as Triangle Insights, Policy Reporter, EngageHCP, and even TrialCard itself?
A: The Mercalis name and brand is replacing TrialCard as the “umbrella” under which all current services and product names, or any future ones, now fit. We want companies to view us as a single source partner to minimize fragmentation. Triangle Insights Group will continue to function as part of Mercalis while Policy Reporter will continue to be a subscription product marketed as part of Mercalis. EngageHCP will simply be described as Mercalis HCP engagement services going forward.
Q: With a new name and brand in place, what’s next for Mercalis?
A: Mercalis is committed to continuing to execute on our vision of being a fully integrated commercialization partner to the life sciences industry. We plan to do that by deepening the connections we have already built between our various service lines through additional investments in technology and industry talent. In addition to enhancing our current offerings, we remain committed to inorganic growth through acquisitions of complementary companies that will expand and strengthen our commercialization capabilities in areas such data and analytics, digital healthcare provider engagement, and strategic market access insights. There is a lot of opportunity in the life sciences commercialization marketplace and the Mercalis team is excited about the future!