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Pharma companies – using digital to create connections and customer value

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Life sciences companies now have a new source of competitive advantage. – use digital to build direct relationships with customers and partners, highlight Rishabh Bindlish, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy – Life Sciences, Accenture in India and Sunit Sinha, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy – Talent & Organization, Accenture in India

Rishabh Bindlish

Leaders are already doing it. They are using digital technologies to connect directly with physicians, healthcare service providers and patients, augmenting existing channels. Several of them are using apps and websites to provide comprehensive medical information to build differentiated relationships. Take the case of Ciplamed1 which is being used by Cipla to connect with healthcare professionals. The portal provides a range of evidence-based and clinically relevant practice resources across 18 medical specialties.  There’s also Teva’s ‘Pharma Touch’2, a mobile application complete with drug libraries, dosing guides, drug interaction tools, daily summaries of research published in medical journals, detailed clinical recommendations and much more.

These companies are using digital technologies to also reach out to end users. Again, Cipla has strengthened its brand connect with patients with respiratory illnesses using ‘Breathefree’3, a mobile application and a website that answers patient queries on asthma, its treatments, myths, patient stories, and local events, and also links them to the right doctors in their vicinity. Similarly, Sun Pharma’s ‘RespiTrack’4 app tracks treatment progress by allowing patients to record details of attacks along with medication details. It also helps them increase their compliance to medication via medication reminders and alerts.

Sunit Sinha

Novartis and Sanofi5 are leveraging social media to target relevant consumer groups with personalised communication. Sanofi has a dedicated Facebook page, twitter account and blog for diabetes patients, while Novartis launched a HeyMS campaign on YouTube and Facebook with patients sharing their own stories to create awareness about Gilenya, its drug for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Mobile apps are also handy for medical sales representatives who get very little time with healthcare practitioners. The average length of a medical sales representative’s call with a healthcare provider (HCP) has dropped from six minutes several years ago to three minutes. With the reduced face face-time with doctors, apps help medical representatives make the most of the time available with them, increasing productivity. The apps guide the entire selling process including supporting pre-call planning based on previous interaction records and doctor’s preferences, and providing timely and relevant content recommendations – maximising the use of face time with doctors. The sales representatives can order real time on apps, while they are talking to the doctor, saving on note taking and follow up time, as well as reducing errors.

Over time, digital tools like mobile applications or websites create a wealth of user data that companies can use to sharpen service delivery and retain customers, helping enhance their competitive advantage.

Needless to say, merely building mobile applications and websites is not enough. Special attention has to be paid to design a user experience which caters to all the constituents in the value chain including sales representatives, doctors, hospital representatives and patients. The focus should be on creating a unique and end-to-end user experience that considers all touchpoints of the user journey, but more importantly recognises that the broader, enabling role that a healthcare company can play in providing holistic solutions that add real value to patients.

To build a user-friendly experience, companies must

Listen through multiple channels: Monitor what patients are saying across multiple forums including company website, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to get critical insights. Companies can now receive alerts when there is a potential brand reputation crisis and have systems in place to respond to the situation effectively. Instead of conducting time-consuming focus groups and market research questionnaires, they can benefit from lower cost interactions with customers, and by providing more opportunities for customers to self-serve through shared information and mutually supportive relationships online.

Create a strong value proposition: Create a patient-centered marketing strategy and integrated communication plan, including both online and offline interventions. Patients are consumers, too, and their digital experiences with direct-to-consumer leaders have conditioned them to expect engaging interactions organised around their interests and requirements—a far cry from the forms and boilerplate on offer from most healthcare providers. Life sciences companies need to engage patients at key moments along their individual journeys – facilitate understanding of risk, create awareness of the disease, engage customer at the point of diagnosis, facilitate doctor discussions, drive behaviour change in the first 90 days of treatment initiation, as well as help monitor and support patient lifestyle on an ongoing basis.

Build profitable patient relationships: Work in tandem with patients in building solutions, in partnership with institutions, physicians and patient associations. If an ongoing sustainable relationship is built with patients, institutions and physicians, by establishing mutual trust, companies can benefit by getting a plethora of useful data on patient preferences, effectiveness of medicines in the market, key pain points of patients and physicians, and so on. These insights, if then used for product development and for improving service, will directly benefit the patient and physician communities.

Capture the value: While profits are a clear indicator of the value captured, healthcare outcomes and positive patient behaviour are clear indicators of sustainable value. This value can be captured only through two-way communication between patients and lifesciences companies. If lifesciences companies get access to timely patient feedback on products and services and potential future needs, value can be captured faster and create competitive advantage for companies. Patients would also get benefit of this two-way communication as it can be used to raise awareness and nudge patients to take proactive action. Accenture research6 shows patients value services but are often unaware of them. Combining information and services with medication builds relationships, reduces costs and improves outcomes.

Designing, implementing, managing and leveraging digital platforms to deliver an integrated and differentiated user experience requires investment, not just in technology but also in people. The workforce needs to be skilled for a digitally evolving environment. Together with a digitally savvy workforce, companies that capture the imagination of consumers and become part of their daily wellness experience will lead the life sciences industry.

2. 38527898/pharmatouch-pharmacy-reource-application
4. https://cio.economictimes.indiatimes. com /news/mobility/sun-pharmas-respitrack-mobile-app-to-boost-
5. /110117/ digital-pharma-sanofi-discuss-diabetes-blog
6. T225006__w__/hk-en/_acnmedia/PDF-21/Accenture-16-2058-Adobe-Life-Science.pdf

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