Pharmaceutical companies are playing an important role in the Digital healthcare revolution. They are moving beyond the pill to address the evolving demands of an eHealth landscape. In order to succeed they must focus on growth and innovation!
The Internet of Things, mobile communications, and advanced analytics are some of the biggest innovations that are transforming the medical sales environment, providing huge opportunities for positive initiatives and Patient outcomes.
We believe that the following digital healthcare opportunities will drive the most value for the future of the pharmaceutical industry, and should be considered as a part of a successful digital strategy.
Pharma has the ability to embrace the eHealth landscape and deliver personalized patient care while engaging physicians with desired communications and leveraging data insights to drive decision making; transforming traditional strategies into real-time responsiveness (McKinsey, 2015).
In 2014, digital health investments totalled $6.5 billion compared to only $2.9 billion in 2013 (McKinsey, 2015). Due to the size and scope of the digital health industry, many companies are faced with the difficult decision of where to focus their efforts in order to drive the most value.
Today’s article discusses 4 value-focused digital opportunities.
- Internet of Things
- Omnichannel Engagement
- Patient-Centricity and Real-Time Responsiveness
- Data Insights
1. Internet of Things (From Wearables to Virtual Visits)
You may have heard rumblings about the Internet of Things (IoT) before. It is an increasingly popular topic of conversation that is affecting many industries, healthcare in particular.
Essentially, the IoT is a collection of connected digital technology devices that send and receive data over a network, including everything from coffee makers to healthcare wearables. (For an in-depth explanation about the IoT follow this link).
So, how does this impact the healthcare industry?
The new of rule for the future seems to be, ‘anything that can be connected, will be connected’. The IoT creates value by facilitating cost-controls and improving the new patient centric CareFlow.
The IoT is changing the way that doctors and patients interact. New technologies such as wearables (FitBits, Apple Watches, etc.) create an excellent opportunity for HCPs to monitor a patient’s condition between visits, with sensors that collect and critically analyze data.
Wearables introduce an innovative solution to all-too common adherence problems by monitoring adverse behaviour and tracking drug performance. They’re able to generate the data that pharma companies need for demonstrating their drugs’ efficacy in the real world, a vital component of modern pharmaceutical sales (McKinsey, 2015).
Branded apps are a valuable digital platform for pharma and life science companies. These apps can do everything from distributing important content and medication reminders, to appointment services and bill payments. Studies show that 66% of Americans are willing to use mobile apps to manage their health (Fathom, 2015). It is important to note that less is more with app development, and post-launch support is critical to sustain app adoption.
Virtual visits, otherwise known as telemedicine, are another great opportunity provided by the IoT. In an effort to avoid the congestion of brick-and-mortar hospital services, modern patients and healthcare providers (HCPs) are turning to, or looking forward to, embracing virtual visits for routine acute care, follow-up, e-pharmacy, and counselling (Market Report Center, 2016).
Virtual visits allow physicians to focus on providing valuable care to rural areas, as well as busy urban professionals. The desire for this kind of interaction is growing,
- 64% of Americans state that they are willing to participate in a virtual visit with a doctor
- 67% of healthcare professionals (physicians and others) are either already using telemedicine, or are planning on using in the next few years
- (American Well, 2015)
Creating and sustaining better patient outcomes is the core benefit of virtual visits.
While virtual visits are changing HCP-patient relationships, screen sharing and digital sales calls are the pharma sales reps’ equivalent tool, improving relationships between HCPs and PSRs by limiting in-person visits and leveraging digital interactions (Sales Hacker, 2016).
Screen sharing (a form of digital detailing) makes the sales process borderless. As in-person access to HCPs drops to an all-time low, PSRs are in need of an innovative way to reach prescribers, and this is where screen sharing is having a profound impact.
Remote detailing from separate locations via an application on a digital device saves time and money on travel. It enables PSRs with the flexibility to schedule details with hard-working HCPs and provide them with a valuable way to engage with the content and interaction types that HCPs prefer.
2. Omnichannel Engagement
In the past, pharma has had complete control over both the creation and distribution of information about their products. However, digital technologies have weakened that control, producing an array of independent channels and online communities, this is an exciting opportunity for pharma (McKinsey, 2015).
Omnichannel engagement, or, communicating across all platforms, is a great opportunity for pharma to create a positive digital footprint, as patients and HCPs are turning to digital sources for their healthcare information.
- 85% of modern patients feel empowered and confident in their ability to make their own healthcare decisions due to the vast amounts of information and resources available to them online (McKinsey, 2015).
- Also, they’re not limiting their searches to their laptops, in 2014 62% of all smartphone owners looked up healthcare information on their phones (Pew Research, 2015).
- Plus, its not just patients who are turning to online sources, when looking for professional or clinical information physicians spend 73% of their time on digital channels (Kilck, 2015).
This proves that it is vital for pharma companies to make their resources and content available online, as well as optimize this content for mobile devices.
The rise of information availability and the self-directed Care Flow has made a multi-channel strategy a necessity for pharma companies. They have to be available on all channels and allow for seamless pharma/patient/HCP relationships. Using different approaches and channels depending on the preferences and behaviours of the target audience has the proven benefits of increasing peak sales, improving budget flexibility, and sustaining product/brand mindshare (PM360, 2015).
In the past we’ve discussed how pharma companies can utilize social media to improve their sales and marketing.
In order to succeed on social media, pharma must be prepared to be responsive in real time. This means safely engaging with patients, anticipating questions, or reacting quickly to these new sources of evidence. They must find a way to remain the main source of authority on their products.
3. Patient Centricity and Real-Time Responsiveness
It’s essential for pharma to recognize and act on the idea that patients are now the consumers who make decisions about their own healthcare.
Improved connectivity between HCPs, pharma, and patients allows for superior patient monitoring and better outcomes. Outcome-based care is the present and future of pharma sales, pharma must prove the value of their products in the real world.
A patient-centric commercial strategy has many benefits, in a recent survey of PSRs, healthcare professionals, medical device employees, etc.,
- 93% stated that the integration of a patient-centric strategy has improved their overall business outcomes, increasing patient trust (56%), HCP trust (58%), and even revenues (40%).
- (Eye for Pharma, 2016).
Achieving patient centricity requires a deep understanding of the patient journey, moving beyond the generic patient categorizations to focus on patient’s needs, beliefs, and perceptions of illness. Digital channels are an unbeatable source of patient information and data; there are technologies available that allow pharma to target their audience and tailor communications to their preferences.
(Stat Source: Eye for Pharma, 2016)
As we mention before social media and online health communities are a terrific, unfiltered, way to gage patient perceptions and needs; they are a valuable means of evidence collection that can help pharma tailor their future sales and marketing messages, and help them improve customer experiences. Also, many innovative educational support programs for patients have been created as a direct result of insights provided by patients.
In order to demonstrate their dedication to patient centricity and outcomes, pharma companies can leverage their rich and diverse resources, content, and data to collaborate openly with healthcare providers. In a previous article we discussed how closed-loop marketing provides PSRs with the capability to be responsive in real-time to the content needs of HCPs.
4. Data Insights
All of these apps, online communities, and devices, are providing pharma and healthcare companies with vast amounts of patient and HCP data, including electronic medical records, drug safety and efficacy, content preferences, etc. This data is extremely effective for capturing valuable insights (Medical Futurist, 2016).
Pharma sales and marketing teams can deploy advanced analytics, such as those provided by a sales enablement platform, to understand HCP prescribing behaviour and potential patient profiles, enabling them to improve their HCP targeting and increasing the number of prescriptions.
“Pharmaceuticals, employee on-boarding, sales and operations planning, launch monitoring, and marketing-content approval would especially benefit from streamlined, automated work flows and increased transparency.” (McKinsey, 2015).
This is exactly the kind of pharma sales enablement solution that we put in place for GSK. We were able to empower their teams with the automated workflows, advanced analytics, increased transparency, and content insights that they needed to succeed in the modern eHealth landscape. Download our case study below to find out more.
Major healthcare players, such as a pharma companies, have the opportunity to link and analyze data from wearables, apps, social media, and more in order to generate real-world evidence about a drug’s efficacy. These data insights are essential because payments and prescriptions are now based on adherence or cure-rate data. There are even examples of some payers using “micropricing”, which is pricing based on the daily measurement of specific patient outcomes and quality of life (McKinsey, 2015).
Carpe that Value
We believe that these four areas represent the best opportunities for pharma to add value in the new eHealth world. Pharma is known for innovation, and now they have the opportunity to effectively personalize their sales and marketing process, improve their engagement and relationships with physicians, and make data-driven decisions for better patient care and outcomes.
While most pharma companies have started to incorporate digital components into their commercial strategies, they are frequently facing barriers to success, from out-dated technology to a lack of resources (both talent and financial). They have the ability to change but are unable to do so because of bureaucratic tensions or fragmented efforts. Forward-thinking companies with innovative cultures are going to be at the forefront of the future of pharma.
If you’re struggling to properly integrate digital capabilities into your sales and marketing department and extract value from your data, request a demo below and let our sales specialists show you how sales enablement can help you to achieve your digital goals.