The digital game changers in pharma are not digital tools, but new aspirations

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Patient centricity, agility and digital capabilities are now the focus of many pharmaceutical companies to evolve one of the must important industries of our era. Just read some recent articles to confirm big-pharma is perusing evolution for a greater good ignited by these themes:

MSD | Novartis | AZ | AbbVie Sanofi | Among others

We all can agree that entertainment, information and connection evolved dramatically in the past 10 years, but now we are getting closer and closer to start living in a healthier planet due the maturity and interconnection of multiple technologies like AI, Blockchain, DNA sequencing, Robotics and more.

The transformation of operations, manufacturing and R&D process are critical, but I will focus this time on the front-end, on what will be seen and filed by patients, HCPs, society, care-givers and other very important stakeholders of the health-care system

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Let’s start for the one that pharma has been trying to solve since many years ago. we called it Multi-channel, Omni-channel, Digital, etc… but at the end has been just the evolution of how to send e-mails and now the approach and the outcome have to be different.

Maximizing Communications Impact

How can we reach and connect with those who need to know about innovative treatments that can help their life?

It is clear that Pharma can use digital technologies to expand the reach or the depth of their communications, this is not new, but the approach is different, from using tech to send e-mails to specifically expand information and awareness to geographies and audiences with a clear need of this.

This is the area in where Pharma believes the solution has been found, but it will be until the need is very well defined, that the goal will be achieved. What are the unmet needs, what are the territories, what are the audiences, what is the channel mix required to achieve 100% of effective reach, what styles, frequency and communications currencies have to be used to develop new behaviors? all of these factors are what will make the difference, not a portal, an automated marketing platform or AI to make recommendations, those are the tools to automate the task, but not the ones that will achieve the goal by themselves.

Accelerate Patient Journey

How can we help patients to be more sensitive and optimistic of their conditions, have better diagnostics experiences and have useful, easy and likable experiences with their treatments?

I am excited to see how many treatments and companies are starting to have a more ambitious approach about the patient journey. In healthcare the goal is not eliminate friction for an e-commerce conversion, but to eliminate friction for a better health result.

The evolution of digital health is at a point in where clinically proofed solutions now in the market can enhance diagnostics and treatment adherence. Micro-targeting capabilities are creating a safe environment to have personalized conversations. Innovation across all the journey of each type of patient is bubbling up and if it is clinically evaluated and validated, we will start achieving better results in health care very soon.

While I believe that in the next years we will see partnerships, alliances and integration of many alternatives to accelerate the patient journey I believe that big steps have to happen to have global impact. There are challenges like patient adherence (due affordability, education, convenience, likability, adverse events, etc) that by having an industry approach and effort will be more impactful than brand by brand or company by company tactics.

Improve Patient Outcomes and Quality of Life

How can we augment the clinical efficacy of treatments, experience better results and how can we help patients to have the quality of life they want while being treated?

This is the main goal in the next 3 to 10 years (depending in where you live). This work doesn’t start at the front line of these companies, this work starts in R&D. by designing end to end platforms that will help patients, care givers and HCPs to achieve better results.

Here is where treatments will be designed in a holistic way. the pharmaceutical treatment will come with digital companions that will guide patients to adjust their context (lifestyle, nutrition, wellness) to achieve greater results. This is not a generic solution, these type of enhanced treatments will react and guide patients based on their own data. The form factors will be beyond mobile apps. All screens will be personal and confidential monitors of the patient’s health and will present recommendations to live a better day, day by day. The methods to capture data will be seamless (invisible for patients), the communication experience will be based on the habits and the preferences of the patient and the care-givers; and the collaboration of the physician will be ad-hoc to each patient based on individual and all patients data.

This is the real big change in pharma, this is what will enable the big transition to other business models the industry have been talking about for many years now. This will be the big transformation of humanity in the next decades.

My point with this framework is to clarify that digital for pharma is not about digital, but about greater expectations and I want to offer 4 last points to enable this.

  • Each aspiration has to be quantifiable ( how many patients, by when, where, what result, etc)
  • This is not a one team or one woman/man task, but involves current teams and creation of new teams, plus partnerships with internal and external innovators that will play a more profound role on the execution.
  • Don’t focus on the latest digital trend, platform or tech. Experts in each one of these companies will define the right technology path. Instead the rest of the organization has to focus on the patient outcome or the healthcare goal.
  • If the initiative will demand a big effort to measure its impact (either for one patient or many), then avoid it… focus on big impact (either for one patient or many, but big impact)

DISCLAIMER: ALL VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS ARTICLE ARE MY OWN AND DO NOT REPRESENT THE OPINIONS OF MY EMPLOYER OR ANY OTHER ENTITY WHATSOEVER WITH WHICH I HAVE BEEN, AM NOW OR WILL BE AFFILIATED.

I don’t assume my opinion is the unique opinion on the topic and I share my thoughts and ideas to by enhanced by all of you and your comments. thanks for reading.

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Jorge Herrera
Transformed sales and marketing organizations in Emerging Markets (Asia, Africa, Middle East & Latin America) to accelerate growth (3%-7%) by implementing a Pharmaceutical Customer Experience Management model (First of its kind in Pharma). -2017-Set Up the largest Pharmaceutical Content Marketing platform for Pfizer Latin America. Expanding by 10x HCP engagement through digital channels. -2015-Led Carnival Corporation's guest data architecture strategy to support the new personalized experience . -2014-Accountable of first Digital Marketing Global Platforms for Pfizer in North America, APAC and Europe (Leading development and Channel Management teams) -2012-Independent entrepreneur who established digital start-ups; designed and launched products including the first global social medical platform (2007); the first temporary messaging platform (2009) and the first Pay Per Engage Social Media Network (2014)Expanded Yahoo!’s Latin America Search and Mobility business across Brazil, Argentina and Mexico becoming the fastest growing business in the region. -2007-Co-Founder of one of the first Digital Agencies in Latin America -1995-