The power of digital has been a topic of the hour for the pharmaceutical industry for a number of years now. As for pharma being a field of a highly regulated kind, all the freedom of junction and interconnectedness The Digital gives – with cloud-based technologies, remote communication, advanced analytics, and a whole bunch of abbreviations like VR, AR and AI – all this are a breath of fresh air for the industry where the Regulation is king. All these innovations have vast capabilities to transform healthcare and pharma in all the incredible ways they have already transformed all other, even seemingly ever-rigid industries. However, recently, an additional element has been discovered, which accelerates the deregulating nature of digital and highly controlled pharma. It’s the customer experience. Before we start, here’s a couple of draft answers to the most burning questions.

How hard is it for pharma exceeding customers’ expectations these days?

Due to the industry’s complexity – quite hard, but it is the way to go.

Is leveraging the power of digital the right solution?

It is not the only solution, but digital tools and platforms are at the core of major shifts and improvements in the ways how huge industries interact and influence individuals they serve.

And, most importantly, for this particular industry – who IS the ultimate customer?

For pharma, the physician comes first. For healthcare overall, though – it’s the patient. Let’s explore the range of digital opportunities pharma has for empowering physicians to re­claim mastery in patient care and whether this customer-centric approach leads to digital transformation.

Pharma marketing’s impersonal past

If we look back into the fast-evolving history of pharma marketing, we will observe such factors as current decline of med rep’s access to physicians, growing time pressures for a visit, distinction in availability across physicians’ fields and the importance of the area, patient coverage and even the time of the day the pharma content is presented. A crucial outcome of that history is smarter and more tailored use of digital channels.

When digital tools were making the first steps in becoming an integral part of pharma marketing strategies, many physicians found themselves bombarded by the barrage of emails, messages, calls, invitations to webinars and conferences. Pharma took embracing the Digital as sending as much information as possible, and in turn, not seeing much of the expected results from these new tactics came as a surprise. It turned out to be only bargaining one issue (restricted access to physicians) for another (physicians ignoring messages and calls). However, as the results of the report below show, when doctors did choose to engage with remote communication, they could recall their interactions with med reps much better.

On digital marketing of 2018: segmented, tailored, personalized

Upon the realization of industry needing to build a smarter way of catering customers’ needs, digital leaders’ thoughts on more personalized engagement started to prevail. New approach could mean designing on-demand product messages or tailoring promotions and services to each practice and each physician – and the idea for incorporating templating methods came around.

Over the course of 2 years, marketing strategy ideas shifted from multichannel to orchestrate engagement to omnichannel – those are all different sides of the sam0e formula for holistic customer engagement strategy. Freshest insights include physicians’ segmentation, less promotion – more education, going beyond the pill and cutting the amount of unnecessary content noise for physicians. In other words, customer experience causes change in customer expectations, thus becoming an engine for a shift from purely brand-centric digital marketing tropes of the past.

So, identifying and understanding physicians’ individual preferences for specific marketing channels will ensure better customer engagement and experience. How can pharma define that unique combination of channels to tailor and personalize it? Through experiment, uniting sales&marketing teams’ expertize and efforts (preferably with the force of digital), and most importantly – through analysis how physicians perceive your content – again, with the force of digital, both remotely or face-to-face. This can secure the digital content to be right delivered at the right time for different customers, be it in an email invitation a physician receives after a remote call or content offered to him/her on pharma web portal, and lay a solid ground for further MCM endeavours.

Patient as an ultimate customer

While pharma is refocusing on physician engagement, healthcare is making strategic investments in patient experience – 49% of healthcare provider executives name it as one of their organization’s top 3 priorities over the next 5 years. Many already have or are outlining a role of chief patient experience officer. Patient experience has also come into the spotlight with Canadian government’s support this October – with expressing endorsement to digital health solutions.

This shift does not come as a surprise since by 2020, the patient is expected to be the ultimate customer – but it will take a collaboration of players to help people to live better. A key area of growth in digital transformation that is predicted within healthcare to be the growth of health apps use – and there’s a number of ways they can be created and put up for good use.

In 2008, 80% of physicians were “accessible” to med reps (a catch in the hallway kind). Now, they can’t afford to waste time for that anymore. Pharmaceutical companies can’t truly be considered patient-centric,  if due to inconsiderate scheduling, their med reps are futilely taking up physicians’ time that could be spent for patient care purposes instead. So the key task for pharma remains – take care of physicians, so they could take care of the patients.

Ensure positive customer experience with the right tools

Today’s physicians would not say ‘no’ to any assistance with delivering better patient care, as they are struggling with patient flux, time pressures, a wide spectrum of technologies and challenges of receiving interesting and professionally engaging content. This is an opportunity for pharma to become a reliable partner to HCPs and enhance their relationship with valuable customer experience.

It is important to continue the alignment between pharma and its customers – whether it’s the prerogative immediate ones (physicians) or the ultimate ones (patients). However, the transition to customer-centric strategies is a long-term transformation that requires gradual change now. In one fell swoop of a digital tool, the interaction between physicians and pharma can be transformed in fundamental ways. And, what’s equally important, to the benefit of both the physicians and the patients. Send a request for a live demo to our customer experience experts team to see the impact of digital tools in action.