As the world picks up the pace in the aftermath of the pandemic, pharma companies are set to change how they engage with stakeholders. Not only has the burden of expectations increased, but companies also have to find new ways to engage since user behaviors have changed irreversibly.

The industry’s primary stakeholders – payers, Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) and patients – have embraced a digital way of life. This has created shifts in how users consume information and seek the delivery of services, which has had a cascading impact on how pharma companies engage with stakeholders.

HCPs strongly favor virtual meetings and digital engagement in most polls and surveys. The consumer mindset is also changing as they are adopting a proactive role in educating themselves on preventive healthcare and are actively participating in the treatment process with informed inputs and better outcomes.

Even as digital plays a disruptive role, traditional challenges of pharma companies persist. The industry continues to grapple with complexities arising from drug approval, quality control, supply chain and disparate global commercial practices. The rapidly changing external environment is impacting pharma marketing by expanding the definition of a customer beyond the buyer to include different stakeholders that need to be engaged with at various stages of medical product commercialization.

How would these developments influence the marketing strategies of pharma companies?

Drawing up an Analytics-enabled Digital-first Strategy

Pharma marketing is complex due to a stringent regulatory environment and the presence of multiple stakeholders. It relies on industry expertise, an understanding of the external environment, and in-depth healthcare market intelligence and planning with data from primary, secondary and internal sources.

By leaning on a digital-first strategy, pharma marketing teams are exploiting advanced analytics, including predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, to assess stakeholder requirements and current market gaps, and design forecasting models and engagement strategies.

As a significant part of marketing entails communicating about research concepts that have been transformed into therapeutic tools, data-based insights play a crucial role in identifying the right stakeholder. This is because communication is nuanced and layered, and different platforms are leveraged at various junctures for optimized outcomes.

Selecting the appropriate channel and delivering the right messaging for stakeholders is crucial to achieving marketing outcomes. Best-in-class pharma companies are employing the following approaches in their marketing strategies.

Customer-centric Marketing: The growing role of the educated patient in the treatment journey is causing a shift from product-centric to customer-centric marketing. As an empathetic partner in the patient journey, pharma companies want to establish a connection with patients in sharp contrast to the traditional approach of prescription-led and physician-centered marketing. Digitally empowered patients are researching the ailment and prescribed medication, allowing pharma companies to better engage with targeted content.

McKinsey indicates that post-pandemic, there has been an evident shift to a pull rather than a push marketing model.1 Customer engagement strategies are accorded the highest weightage in this model, led by digital and analytics capabilities.

Massive amounts of data triggered by digital and wearable devices provide valuable insights into patient behavior, enabling pharma companies to design services to improve drug efficacy and treatment outcomes. For instance, pharma companies can develop mobile applications to drive push notifications for medication reminders if an at-risk patient group does not consume medicines on time.

Moreover, digital is making it easier to track a patient journey, from an initial perception of symptoms through disease progression and treatment. That data is further enriched when combined with insights on stakeholders such as healthcare providers, doctors and payers; decisions made at different junctures; the rationale behind those decisions; and emotions involved. The quantitative and qualitative data on patients, caregivers and providers give pharma marketers crucial insights into the kind of message to deliver at different touch points during the patient journey.

Increased Digital Play in HCP Engagement: Many HCPs do not expect in-person interactions with pharma sales representatives to go back to pre-pandemic levels. Further, HCPs are adapting to an increasing number of patients seeking more information about treatment modalities and medications. This provides an opportunity for pharma companies to work alongside HCPs to educate patients with relevant information and insights.

Pharma companies are ramping up digital capabilities to bolster HCP engagements via omni-channel strategies and leveraging data-driven insights to deliver quick and personalized information in the preferred format and channel of the HCP.

According to a McKinsey study, when analytics-based omni-channel engagement is implemented well, the transformation impact can uplift revenue by 5-10 percent, increase marketing efficiencies and cost-savings by 10-20 percent, drive prescriptions by 3-5 percent and improve HCP satisfaction by 5-10 percent.2

However, organizations need a robust data strategy built on a high-performance architecture to achieve these outcomes. This architecture must aggregate data in real-time from multiple sources and cleanse and catalog data in an intelligent content repository to enable users to pull out appropriate information easily. The system must be equipped with dashboards and visualization tools to allow marketers to identify the stakeholders and the information they seek and deliver that information to the right person at the right time through the most appropriate channel.

Sales Enablement: The traditional marketing approach of targeting specific physicians and generating sales via large volumes of prescriptions is declining sharply. Companies are now leveraging pharma predictive analytics by harnessing data from different sources to design forecasting models and data-science-based marketing strategies. These sources include Real-world Evidence (RWE) data from third parties, supply chain and distribution, and internal data from workflows and customer relationship management systems.

For instance, if a drug is not doing well in a specific geography, pharma companies harvest data from RWE to understand the market dynamics and stakeholder requirements, evaluate gaps and create a long-term sales forecast for the drug in that geography.

A significant amount of data is being generated at the point of contact during sales representative engagement, and capturing the feedback enables to analyze the effectiveness of sales efforts and use it to get an edge on the competition. These insights also allow companies to micro-segment HCPs and gain a deep understanding of each clinician to personalize the engagement. Marketing teams are better equipped to provide sales reps with timely insights during HCP interactions.

Opportunity Assessment & Healthcare Market Entry: According to a Deloitte study that analyzed drug launches in the US, 46 percent of the missed launch forecasts were due to an inadequate understanding of the market and customer needs.3 This includes a lack of knowledge about the type of patients responding well to the drug and insights into physicians likely to prescribe the new drug.

Sometimes, the drug’s performance has nothing to do with its efficacy as much as identifying the correct stakeholder – hospital procurement, insurance companies or regulatory bodies – to design an effective entry or re-launch strategy.

Often, the market entry strategies of pharma companies have gaps in demonstrating value in the real world due to challenges in monitoring efficacy and securing the right health outcomes. To overcome these challenges, pharma companies must harvest data from external sources, including third-party RWE data, social media, public platforms and internal sources, to design a comprehensive narrative that engages all stakeholders.

Strategic Reset with Healthcare Analytics Enablement

Pharma companies have always depended on empirical data to identify patterns, test theories and evaluate treatment efficacy. Today, data velocity overwhelms organizations, and pharma companies' challenge is harnessing this data effectively. They can do so by connecting and harmonizing disparate sources, designing a data strategy driven by automation and storing data at a central location to enable quick and easy access.

There is no denying that the global pandemic has ushered in a new era of stakeholder engagement. Pharma marketing is re-calibrating traditional models to embrace bold new approaches based on data-driven insights. New customer engagement models like self-service are enabling pharma companies to harvest valuable insights into complaints, track adverse events and assess drug efficacy. Tracking and monitoring social media, listening to public sentiment and capturing information related to patient health and safety are crucial to marketing strategies.

Business-savvy pharma companies are consolidating and harmonizing disparate data sources to hardwire resilience into the business, equip marketers with powerful capabilities, design new strategies such as dynamic targeting and segmentation, create content on the fly and deliver it at scale. As pharma companies prepare to entrench themselves in a digital-first world, implementing high-value engagement initiatives powered by data-driven models is the only way to adapt and thrive in the new normal.

To know more about how WNS is helping some of the leading pharma brands adapt marketing to the new normal, visit Life Sciences BPO | Life Sciences Process Outsourcing | WNS





Join the conversation