Digitally Transforming the Life Sciences Industry

Today Capgemini Consulting releases the 10thannual Vision and Reality report which examines how the pharmaceutical industry can better communicate with physicians and the wider medical community. The report surveyed nearly 1,800 specialist physicians across Oncology, Hematology, Cardiology, Rheumatology and Neurology. Pharma IQ spoke with Hala Qanadilo, Principal, and Timothy Moore, Principal, at Capgemini Consulting Life Sciences, about the key findings of new study.

Pharma IQ: What were the key findings of the new study?

H Qanadilo & T Moore: What Physicians Want:
Physicians across the board have reported an improvement in the speed, quality and availability of information they are receiving from pharma companies. Interestingly, contrary to popular belief our study revealed that physicians actually want to interact more with pharma, not less. What they are really looking for is better quality interactions – more relevant information that they can access on their own terms. In this environment, Capgemini Consulting believes the personalizing information and making it available via the right channels is the most productive and effective way to provide physicians information they can use.

Pharma company self-assessment of multichannel closed loop marketing maturity:
While much of the pharma industry has begun to implement MCLM to a certain degree, even the most advanced companies have not fully completed their transformations and as such are failing to reap MCLM’s full benefits. Based on the pharma company self-assessment we conducted, most companies rated themselves less than half way along the maturity curve when it comes to responsiveness, personalization and analytics – the three key elements of MCLM. While the pharma industry acknowledges they are not far along and that the industry has been slow to react, the majority of the individuals we interviewed felt that MCLM was the right direction to head in – aligning to our vision of a future in which firms are able to react better to customer needs and develop customized content to be delivered via the right channel.

Pharma IQ: Did the study show an uptake in the use of digital marketing by pharmaceutical companies? 

H Qanadilo & T Moore: Generally pharmaceutical companies have been late adaptors of digital marketing, lagging behind other industries by a wide margin, for example Consumer Packaged Goods. As of now, no pharma company we spoke to has fully evolved to a true MCLM model envisioned in this report, although granted there is wide variation along the MCLM maturity scale. In recent years, pharma firms have begun to add digital marketing capabilities. Our study revealed, however, that in most cases the use of digital channels tends at present to be ad-hoc, and managed within various brand and functional silos, preventing the achievement of true digital transformation.

Interestingly, one place pharmaceutical firms have led the charge and can definitely be regarded as ‘early adapters’ is in the adoption of tablet technology (mostly iPads) for use by reps during sales calls with physicians. Our findings indicate that close to 70% of reps across the industry are currently leveraging this technology.

Pharma IQ: Are physicians more open to receiving digital messages from the pharmaceutical industry? 

H Qanadilo & T Moore: The answer is yes – and this is really no surprise: doctors today like all of us are busier, more mobile, and more tech-savvy than previous generations. Instead of setting aside time for meeting sales representatives or reading journals, they are more likely to keep informed via their iPad in the comfort of home.

Customers today regularly use a variety of sources. In fact, less than a third of doctors name a single preferred channel. Since there is no single channel to meet the needs of every customer, or even one customer, a pharma company must employ a mix of channels.

Pharma IQ: What is encouraging pharma to embrace digital? Is a digital transformation on the horizon?

H Qanadilo & T Moore: The declining effectiveness of the current sales model, the inability of pharma to communicate effectively and access their customers, and the growing dissatisfaction of the customer with the value that pharma provides are all factors encouraging pharma to embrace digital.

We believe the pharmaceutical industry is ripe for a digital transformation. Though late to the party for a variety of reasons – including legal/government regulations, conflicting stakeholder mandates, and general corporate inertia – pharma is poised for dramatic change in coming years in response to emerging technologies, evolving stakeholder priorities and changing consumer preferences.

The adoption of CLM and MCLM by many firms of the industry, though uneven, has in many ways helped set the table for comprehensive change these technologies have helped firms experiment with emerging technologies and develop a level of comfort.

Pharma IQ: What can pharmaceutical companies do to better engage with physicians and the wider community? 

H Qanadilo & T Moore: Pharma can better engage with physicians by creating personalized content the physician feels is unique and relevant to them, and by giving physicians numerous choices to access this information.

Because physicians’ preferences are changing, pharmaceutical firms must respond by adapting their approach. Anyone in the industry will tell you that doctors today are busier, more mobile, and more tech-savvy than previous generations. Instead of setting aside time for meeting sales representatives or reading journals, they are more likely to keep informed via their iPad in the comfort of home. 

What it comes down to is that pharma companies must tailor their approach to best manage relationships in a changing environment. The good news is that in a recent survey we conducted along with QuantiaMD, we discovered that 46% of doctors have an equal preference for receiving information from pharma companies and independent sources, and 18% actually prefer to receive information directly from pharma companies. 

As regards engaging with the wider community, technology is already playing a predominant role. Witness the dozens of virtual communities that have sprung up in recent years to help physicians and patients better collaborate, share ideas and common experiences. To a large extent this movement is still in its early stages, but from what we’ve seen so far there’s no reason not to be excited about what the future may hold.

Pharma IQ: Can digital communications truly ever replace the sales force?

H Qanadilo & T Moore: Whether digital communications can replace the sales force is the wrong question to ask! A better question is how can pharma integrate the sales channel with other digital channels, and figure out the right combination of channels for each customer. 

Pharma companies recognize that the relationships they enjoy with their customers are at the rep not the corporate level. Face-to-face interactions still provide a lot of value, and we don’t predict that changing in coming years. Pharma needs to find ways to augment and integrate their digital channels with their greatest promotional asset, the sales rep.

At the same time, we see the role of the pharma sales rep evolving to a large degree as firms move forward with their digital transformations. The future representative might play the role of the “local market quarterback” – their proximity to the customer enabling them to help select from a combination of channels to meet the needs of the physician.

Now if we fast-forward several years, as the industry continues its inexorable march down the road of digital transformation there will be many other amazing changes that will shape the industry in ways that are difficult to forecast. We’re eager to see what the future will hold – and we believe our partners in the industry should be as well. Let me just say it’s an exciting time to be in working in pharma!

Interview conducted by Andrea Charles.

Have Your Say
Rate this feature and give us your feedback in the comments section below