PHILADELPHIA, PA, September 20 – This year’s Digital Pharma East event encompassed a number of important issues that pharmas face while “digitalizing” themselves. From the ability to use data for providing personalization levels that today’s audiences expect, through the novelties of AI and advanced learning strategies, patient communications, to why “omnichannel” is not just another word for “good old” multichannel – the range of topics was broad enough even for the event’s scale.

One thing, however, seems to have been the key to understanding the scope of subjects. This was the saying that appeared in one of the presentations at the start of the conference:

Customer experience. Digital and FMCG have raised the plank of expectations, and life sciences enterprises are left facing a huge challenge. The CX is not the only aspect to bring about the famed “digital transformation” of pharma, but is arguably one of the most important ones.

In the long run, this boils down to the necessity of bringing together patients, HCPs and pharma and establishing a true dialog – something that anyone in charge of omnichannel strategy is trying to accomplish at least in part. Here are some takeaways from the event that we at Viseven Group feel deserve experts’ attention.

Personalization and data require a deeper digital transformation

The need for hyper personalized, hyper targeted customer engagement was emphasized several times, for example, by Jennifer Avallone of Takeda. What’s interesting, this is closely connected with mobile engagement both in terms of CX and data received.  The mobile trend was also touched upon by Google, with an analysis of user journey on a web page as it loads.

Google’s Senior Brand Partner for Consumer Health, Coleman Bigelow, and Melissa Saw, Global Head for Digital Partnerships at Bayer, delivered a case in point, presenting the two giants’ collaboration. The “pillars” upon which this type of digital transformation rests were identified as follows:

  • flexible agile tech;
  • optimized digital delivery;
  • driving Data as an Asset;
  • digital mindset & skills;
  • digital ecosystem and partnership.

This sort of cooperative work is intended to result in profound digital transformation that allows to target very precisely and handle enormous bundles of data for better customer experience.

Alliances between life sciences and digital were also at the center of the presentation delivered by Lisa French of Merck, who discussed the necessary components of a successful commercial business model transformation.

On a different but related note, Wesley van den Heuvel of Novo Nordisk presented the digital non-personal promotion (NPP), which is essentially pharma marketing minus the rep activities. As in-person access to HCPs has reduced by about 40%, life sciences are seeking new ways to engage and get insights.

Chatbots as a channel + AI concepts coming to fruition

In his presentation, Shwen Gwee, CoFounder at Novartis Biome, emphasized the benefits of chatbots for patient engagement. As interactions are getting less reliant on human involvement, this technology, when used as a channel, provides experiences that are highly personalized, bite sized, continuous and asynchronous. At the same time, this sort of communication is able to incorporate the benefits of visual learning.

Meanwhile, AI is already bearing fruit, albeit not in the omnichannel realm. Saskia Steinacker, Global Head Digital Transformation, Bayer presented the diagnosis-improving AI-based technology – CTEPH.AI Pattern Recognition Software.

At the time, this is used in the beyond-the-pill field of activity, but it is easy to see how machine learning for pattern recognition can revolutionize pharmaceutical omnichannel content strategies (which is Viseven Group’s own prediction for the years to come – see below).

You can’t just slap the omnichannel label over multichannel

For a time, the multi/omnichannel marketing community has been contemplating the difference between the two terms. While some have used them more or less interchangeably, it has always been felt that the difference lies in integration. Paul Murasko, Senior Director, Digital Customer Interaction at Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals, proposed the following definitions:

  • Single channel – single point of contact;
  • Multichannel – contacts across multiple, but independent (possibly siloed) channels
  • Cross-channel – single point of contact, but limited coordination; CX across multiple touchpoints, with tendency towards single view of customers, but silos still present;
  • Omnichannel – the customer engages with the brand, not the multiple channels available; single view of the customer with effort to “join the dots”; digital is at the center, analytics are given special attention.

It is exciting to see that such views, which lay stress upon meaningful interactions and message consistency, are becoming mainstream in pharma marketing community. When communication flows and customer journeys are aligned across channels, the entire brand interaction becomes even more meaningful to the customer, be it HCP or patient.

In this respect, Eli Lilly has dedicated some attention to the practical side of establishing omnichannel approach, with its respective challenges. While Lina Shields, Chief Media Officer at Lilly USA, emphasized consumer marketing with digital experiences before and after Rx, Morris Kimble, Associate Brand Manager, Insulins Digital and Print Strategy, came up with the concept of 4 C’s:

Interestingly, the WGLL (What Good Looks Like) table above demonstrates a relative reduction in the amount of channels at the latest stage (beyond post-launch), but the customer DB is refined with more meticulous study of analytics, now with ROI besides the other metrics.

Our contribution

As an experienced provider of solutions in and around digital content, Viseven Group presented the unique COPE approach to omnichannel content excellence. COPE, standing for Create once, Publish Everywhere, refers to a flexible content management system that allows to manage content in modules. A module is a meaningful piece of digital material, as a rule containing the core claim, visuals and references, that exists in a channel-less form and can be published anywhere.

The enterprise can then use these modules as building blocks for ready-to-use content items that are published to various target systems. This has already been implemented based on Viseven’s eWizard platform and its integrations with Veeva Suite, IQVIA OCE,, SFMC, Adobe Experience Manager, etc. In the nearest future, this is planned to be extended with the capacities of machine learning for various purposes, including automated content generation, localization, analytics, etc.

You can download the ebook describing this approach for free here.

Deep Dive Session into Digital Transformation – V.I.P. session by Viseven

An additional V.I.P. session led by the specially invited Digital Transformation Evangelist Sergei Ostapenko in Marriott Downtown Hotel unveiled how to reinforce the next-generation digital journey connecting technologies, data, people, and systems in order to create excellent customer experience. Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, big data and cross-industry tips and cases how to drive digital transformation were also on the agenda. The presentation zoomed in on pharma marketing and modular content as one of the shortest way to augment digital transformation for commercial content management.

Here is a video excerpt:

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