August 06, 2019 Andrew Warren-Payne
Life sciences companies aren’t limited to only working on developing their innovations, such as new drugs. Building relationships is also critical.
Research from Bain and Company shows that at least two-fifths of physicians’ brand preference is attributable to customer experience factors beyond the product. These include, for example, how well pharma companies support physicians by providing answers to medical questions or connecting them with peers. Quite worryingly, physicians gave pharma companies an average Net Promoter Score of -11 across all interactions.
It’s clear life sciences organizations need to shift from pushing products to expanding the value proposition, becoming solution providers and proactive members of the healthcare delivery ecosystem. But are they ready to address these needs and be at the forefront of this transformation?
The answer is mixed.
The State of Digital Content in Life Sciences
According to Accenture’s recent State of Content for Life Sciences, more than three-quarters (78 percent) of marketers in the pharma and biotech sectors claim their organization produces a moderate to an enormous amount of digital content and assets, with three in five (58 percent) spending more than $50 million on content each year.
However, only 11 percent report they have a clearly documented content strategy that meets current and future needs (compared to 42 percent across all industries) and only 13 percent believe they leverage content well. There’s an obvious disconnect between having content capabilities and being able to aptly communicate complex information.
Content created by life sciences organizations is still very much product-focused and zeroes in on the marketing message instead of the educational component so many HCPs and other stakeholders and customers crave. While the efficacy and safety profile of drugs remain the most sought-after information in the pharma sector, requests for real-world evidence and impact on patients’ lives have seen a marked increase as well.
The Digital Content Trends Shaping Life Sciences
Using key opinion leaders (KOLs) or influential medical experts — either practitioners or researchers — can certainly help elevate the conversations with HCPs. However, the traditional scope of the KOL’s role has changed. Whereas life sciences companies might have relied on a single KOL throughout the lifecycle of a product, they now need to match the right KOL to each stage in the development and marketing of a product. Instead of perceiving them as conduits of information, organizations need to develop strong, mutually beneficial partnerships with KOLs.
Another trend that is reshaping the life sciences industry is a growing focus on patient services. As the market is shifting toward value-based, personalized healthcare, the demand for delivering patient services has also increased.
These services range from helping patients better understand their disease and how they can manage it, to helping them adhere to treatment plans and connecting them with others affected by the same condition. Examples include AstraZeneca’s Day-by-Day coaching service for patients recovering from a heart attack, providing a combination of digital content and one-to-one coaching, and the dedicated social network for heart failure patients and caregivers launched by Novartis.
Delivering Services Into the Hands of Patients
Traditionally, patient services were solely packaged with specialty, rare disease treatments and were viewed as an add-on to product sales rather than a standalone offering. However, recent years have seen an increase in the range of patient services offered as pharma companies are ramping up investment in complementary areas.
Despite the increase in both demand and supply, Accenture research revealed there’s a significant communication gap as just one in five patients are aware of these services. Around half of HCPs reported that they hear about patient services less than 25 percent of the time from sales reps or through other channels. If HCPs don’t have a good understanding of what’s available, they’re not likely to make recommendations to patients.
Life science organizations need to fill all these communication and information gaps by focusing the conversations with HCPs and the rest of the market on outcomes rather than products. They should strive to become trusted sources of scientific information, comprehensive data and peer-reviewed evidence, not just providers of prescribed substances or medical devices and technology.
Ultimately, they need to help both the healthcare provider and the patient have a better conversation and identify the best possible care approach. Improving health outcomes is a responsibility that all players in the life sciences industry share.
Keep an eye on this space as we explore the challenges and opportunities facing the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries.