PHILADELPHIA, PA, November 15, 2018 – Quite unlike the common image of eyeforpharma events (which are either impressively panoramic, or exhaustively focused on a particular broadly defined area of interest), this November’s Philadelphia event dedicated to marketing and CX has been more of a concise, up-to-the-point business. This is, perhaps, not coincidental. While those of us who routinely orbit around the vast communication space that is eyeforpharma, would typically expect this format of event to be happening in London, this time we have witnessed it transferred here, “over the pond”.

This, of course, demands an update in the overall style of discussion. Having participated in the conference as an exhibitor and heard the talks, Viseven team can confirm that the update experiment has been successful. In essence, several currently high-relevance topics were pinpointed and explored with pragmatic rigor. These include not just patient engagement and holistic view of pharma communications, but also data management and multichannel strategy.

At first sight, they may seem loosely connected – after all, the corresponding tasks are most commonly executed by separate departments. However, if one looks long enough, interdependencies are becoming more obvious…

Beyond selling, and closer to patients

One of the two Boehringer Ingelheim speakers present at the event, Senior Vice President Martina Flammer, in many ways succeeded in defining (foreshadowing?) the general framework for further discussion. In her presentation, held after the opening remarks, she spoke of where the road away from, and beyond, the pill should ideally lead. Providing value to patients and stakeholders, as opposed to thinking in terms of product promotion, is a recognized necessity – but to transcend the old ways, you need to know where to go. The suggested solution in this case is defining portfolios that increase patient compliance, as well as leverage DTC campaigns in terms of education.

A bridge to what came next was the mention of collaborative nature of the effort – including agency and digital healthcare links. The theme of expanding the range of parties involved was further explored by Kishan Kumar, Commercial Strategy and Operations leader at Novartis Oncology. One of his key points was the evolution of pharma communications landscape, with the growing importance of new customer-facing roles.

As opposed to the old scheme, dominated by reps, the one more likely to empower value-bringing will also include MSL, account managers focused on KOLs and hospital management (separately) and patient services.

This, in turn, means more channels, and more interconnections. In other words,

In this era it is important to understand not only what channels there are, but also how all of the channels we use “talk” with each other.

The channel range has expanded, and now includes not just eDetailing, email, remote meetings and events but also myriads of apps and wearable tech, which by the way was the topic covered by David Kuperstein, US Hemophilia Director/Team Leader at Pfizer.

All of this has two consequences:

  1. resources are now to be allocated roughly twice as smartly as before;
  2. in order to know where to invest, pharma needs to handle data from the fields more intensively.

Perfectly summed up in Kishan Kumar’s key points:

Data: it’s not just about how to obtain it but how to segment it

Data was at the focus of the impressive presentation by Steve Wong, Director Marketing Excellence and Support at Boehringer Ingelheim. By now, getting insights is not an issue anymore, ever since pharma followed the patients and HCPs in going digital. Essentially, the marketer who disposes of email, SEO, website analytics, SM accounts, etc. has sources enough to flood the analytics dashboard. The question is to prioritize the analysis.

One of the possible tactics here is to set channel-specific questions, e.g. social media engagement or keyword search frequency metrics. However, the next step, namely how you arrive from there to DB segmentation, remains strictly individual.

Besides, there are two more factors just entering the scene, with barely predictable impacts: AI, on the one hand, and requirements to sensitive information, on the other. This makes the question of data a challenging but rewarding subject of research.

Behavioral economics in use, and why multichannel matters

Of course, data is not the finish line, but a powerful tool to reach true engagement with the audience. How do you attain the status quo in which you may be confident that your company’s investments are directed exactly at the solutions that patients and stakeholders appreciate?

And after that, how do you make sure they do use these solutions?

This is the conceptual knot that Susan Garfield, Principal at Ernst & Young, suggested disentangling with the help of behavioral economics theory. Without getting too deep in the details, the path to success here is to get a firm understanding not only of what drives behavioral change – but what sustains it.

The concrete way of managing this, of course, relies on distinction and definition of population groups – thought that was echoed in Steve Wong’s concerns about data segmentation (mentioned above).

As a mnemonic device, the following threefold motto was suggested:

  • Make it relevant;
  • Make it easy;
  • Make it attractive.

…which sounds like the characteristics of good content, doesn’t it?

Our practical view

Multichannel content for life sciences has been Viseven team’s principal sphere of activity for over 9 years now, and the changes in the landscape and expectations is what brought our specialists to Philadelphia this year. From global to local markets, content is the starting point of bringing value to the audience. From dosing calculators and patient education apps to CLM-oriented presentations and email templates, this is the “hello we can offer you something” that comes before actual patient centricity – and accompanies it at every step.

Only that with the recent explosion of channels, the “traditional” (some 3 years ago, “innovative”) model of content supply has become barely sustainable, with project-to-project thinking resulting in overinvestment and poor flexibility.

However, there is a more sensible approach to getting the multichannel engagement strategy fueled. The first step is streamlining content production and getting rid of the silos that come with multiple CMS compatibility issues.

Simply put, creating content once, publishing it to many systems for distribution already unties the brand manager’s hands.

Next goes content reuse. For example, an email template that is 60% okay but needs editing needs not an agency to fix it but a platform that allows to introduce modifications on the fly.

Finally, there goes the flexible, channel-less content that can be used globally as a ready-made snippet in an email, eDetailing presentation, mobile app, etc.

This evolution has already begun – and the valuable insights at eyeforpharma Philadelphia this year have demonstrated why.

To see what the first and most affordably riskless steps on that path are, you can look through the ebook presented at the event by Viseven specialists – which is completely free of charge and available on this same website.