26.05.2020 | Health Strategy

Understand your customers and collaborate for COVID-19 success.

By Luke Wilson

Understand your customers and collaborate for COVID-19 success.

Three takeaways from eyeforpharma Barcelona

The team running eyeforpharma Barcelona 2020 had to think on their feet, react quickly to changing circumstances and accelerate thoughts and ideas that may have only been a hopeful dream just months ago. This of course was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the end result was eyeforpharma Barcelona’s first fully virtual conference.

My impression from watching the content on-demand, was that this flexible, urgent and audience-considerate approach shown by eyeforpharma, was reflected in many of this year’s presentations.

To some degree pharma priorities haven’t changed, but plans have been accelerated and there was a greater call for a focus on the needs and customer experience of healthcare professionals (HCPs) and patients.

I have picked out three key takeaways for myself and the healthcare industry at large. We need to:

  1. Understand HCPs’ needs and behaviours.
  2. Collaborate and change thinking to bring global transformation.
  3. Create customer experiences.

1. Understand HCPs’ needs and behaviours.

HCPs are still interested in getting information and need support from the pharmaceutical industry, and as a result they are becoming more flexible in how they access new information. With digital platforms now a primary way of communicating, it is increasingly important to understand the needs and behaviours of customers to cut through the noise and supply the support they need right now.

Paul Dixey, Multichannel Lead at Novartis, said there has been an acceleration of deploying content on a range of channels but that more consideration of customers and their situations was needed; “what content is going to be useful?”, “where can we add value to them?”.

The way to address this is by truly understanding the needs of customers, but Dixey isn’t convinced this is always front of mind when brand planning, as pressure to share product focused messaging can lead to not directly addressing customer needs. Dixey spoke of the “space that we need to play in” being “what it is we want to say overlapping with what it is our customers want to hear”.

Andreas Dach, Digital & Multi-Channel Lead at Eli Lilly, said relevant content was the most important part of a multichannel marketing campaign. Thoughts around the channels and campaign should only happen once the content topics has been identified based on HCP need.

By understanding the behaviours of HCPs we can provide digital content when they want it and where. And tracking the resulting response is also important, to understand how the content is resonating. Sensing that campaign results can often be overlooked, Dach finished his presentation by quoting Winston Churchill “However beautiful the strategy you should occasionally look at the results”.

2. Collaborate and change thinking to bring transformation

Throughout the pandemic there have been sharing and collaboration between global healthcare companies but there is also a sense that better internal collaboration and a change in thinking within companies is needed to better serve HCPs during the pandemic and beyond.

Dixey shared that there is a need to break down internal silos of information in order to serve customers better. Identified customer needs shouldn’t only stay with the market research team, but be fed throughout the company.

From a data perspective, Renaud Sermondade, Global Head of Insight and Analytics at Sanofi, spoke on data interoperability and that matching data from different sources is a key to unlocking the most relevant insights in data.

Judith Reece, Vice President, Digital Development at GSK spoke of a GSK initiative on ‘smart risk taking’, pilots which may be done in one market before global application.

Florent Edouard, SVP, Global Head of Commercial Excellence & Customer Engagement, Grunenthal shared challenges around applying a minimum viable product (MVP) approach in Pharma. The approach supports innovation and is used so effectively in other industries, but is not a part of the Pharma mindset.

In an inspirational session, Cary Adams, CEO at Union for International Cancer Control, spoke of his hope for the broader collaboration from healthcare companies, governments and NGOs to continue to solve less urgent but equally important global challenges following the pandemic.

Adams felt one outcome from the pandemic could be improved collaboration in finding and treating new patients. However, he said that one of the biggest needs in fighting cancer, is not new specialised treatments, but getting the existing treatments and knowledge to those around the world who need it. He mentioned that even if we had all the answers, it wouldn’t help those in less developed nations, where there isn’t the infrastructure or support to provide treatments.

3. Create customer experiences.

Marc Valdiviezo, VP Strategy & Applied Digital Transformation at Indegene, shared that there needs to be a “digital reset” on what customer experience looks like.

The rise of customer centricity and an emphasis on the user experience is starting to be seen within the healthcare industry as the HCPs-patient relationship is changing. HCPs are becoming advisors rather than prescribers, which changes how we need to relate and engage with HCPs.

Reflecting that change was underway, Michelle Keefe, President Commercial Solutions at Syneos Health, said during the pandemic we need to react quicker and become customer centric. She shared four right-now initiatives that could be put into place:

  • Advanced targeting
  • Remote detailing
  • Engagement center
  • 1:1 digital engagement: person-level relevant content.

It is more than technology that is needed. A different value proposition to customers to differentiate.

Greg Miller, Former Global Health Marketing and Innovation Excellence at UCB advised that the value proposition when focusing on the pill is very limited and it is difficult to satisfy patient needs. Understanding of the beyond the pill purpose and benefits is key. Miller is an ambassador for Design Thinking, which at its core focuses on the consumer need. Not all departments or teams are willing to embrace these things and it often takes a struggling brand to apply this thinking before other teams see the benefit

Discover more

Understanding the needs and behaviours of HCPs, collaborating and changing the way we think and a focus on customer experience can turn challenges into opportunities.

CREATION.co has been supporting many new and existing clients during COVID-19 by analysing the conversations of more than 2M healthcare professional (HCP) social media profiles. We are committed to supporting healthcare stakeholders globally. For more of this research, and advice on health communications during COVID-19 in your country, please get check our COVID-19 insights.

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Meet the Author

Luke Wilson

Luke brings a design thinking perspective to our Marketing & Communications, working to keep CREATION’s brand presence and message front of mind to all key stakeholders.

When he isn’t learning about fatherhood, Luke enjoys watching and playing football, being an over enthusiastic fan of Liverpool FC.