Digital Health

Reorganisation Through Digital Detailing

Building a fully customer-centric experience requires a whole host of digital solutions working together
Carolina Rossi Wosiack at CI&T
Pharmaceutical drugs are highly regulated and complex products, which makes the job of pharma marketers far more complicated and difficult than in other industries. Not to mention physicians’ frustration with impersonal approaches and patients’ having their needs unmet.
The pandemic has highlighted just how unsustainable this traditional sales model is – people-dependent, costly, hierarchical, and siloed. Now, the industry must reimagine how they interact with healthcare professionals (HCPs) to become more innovative and customer centric.
But, how exactly can pharma companies find more efficient ways to connect with physicians? The answer lies in digital detailing – solutions that allow pharma companies to deliver impactful messages that add value, address physicians’ pain points, and create a journey that is ideal for patients.
1. Focus on the Customer: Digital detailing isn’t a new concept, however few companies can say that they have mastered it and are seeing a significant impact on results. Records have moved from offline to online, but the content and approach of detailing has largely remained the same. The pandemic has exposed this, with restrictions on travel and interaction posing a major barrier to meaningful facetime with physicians. For all the digital acceleration we’ve seen in healthcare, there’s been a lack of any real transformation in this area so far.
To add real value requires a shake-up of the traditional approach. This means shifting from delivering promotions through a sales representative to managing a better customer experience (CX) and engaging stakeholders across different touchpoints. Pharma companies not only need differentiated products, they also need a clear customer experience.
CX design is a discipline that has been on the rise and one that pharma companies should encourage among those in sales and marketing, as well as in IT and digital. With this skill, companies can address physicians’ pain points and improve the patient journey – in turn generating greater value, improving adherence, and increasing revenues.
2. Drive Engagement Through an Omnichannel Approach: So, how can pharma companies improve the customer experience exactly? They need to help representatives find efficient ways to connect with physicians through impactful messages that add value. Digital interactions present pharma companies with a perfect opportunity for this. Integrating a truly digital process offers a more enhanced experience where reps can extend their coverage without having to travel and physicians can access what they want when they need it.
The tools needed to create messages and test and learn already exist in the market. Adobe Campaign, for example, uses customer data to create, coordinate, and deliver dynamic campaigns. Univadis from Aptus Health offers time-saving and educationally-enhancing medical apps supporting HCPs in their daily practice, plus countless closed-access medical content platforms.
While this may sound like old news for some, and many might claim to have implemented omnichannel initiatives, they often aren’t well orchestrated. Without a true integration of these channels, messages will continue to be lost. Creating an effective omnichannel strategy first requires connecting channels so that they are bidirectional.
Once these channels are integrated and connected, new behaviours will surface, perhaps something like a ‘Netflixication’ of digital detailing, which is seeing information when and how physicians want – whether that’s in the middle of an appointment or outside of practice hours. Reps will have to provide services beyond disseminating information. They’ll need to understand each client to create customised offerings and services.
The amount of information that is shared between reps and physicians require these inevitable changes, and this will enable more creative and innovative communication channels to be developed.
3. Preparing the Future Role of the Sales Rep: Through digital detailing, pharma companies have an opportunity to re-evaluate their digital engagement. However, tech alone won’t cut it. It is crucial sales reps feel fully prepared for this. Pharma companies must focus on networking and connecting people with needs to resources. The pandemic has required reps to navigate the needs of not just HCPs, but also physicians, patients, government agencies, insurance companies, and many more. This mustn’t be forgotten – the ‘new rep’ needed today should represent more of a ‘journey manager’ or a ‘relationship manager’, where they understand all the complex needs of these audiences.
These new journey managers will need to focus on the opportunities that provide value for doctors, patients, pharma companies, and other stakeholders. This means administering differentiated approaches that will require analysis and planning before meeting with physicians, allowing reps to offer and develop tailored services and messages. Through leveraging technology, they can facilitate an integrated multichannel engagement with HCPs.
These new skills require focusing on a more customercentric approach – in this case, pinpointing the needs of doctors. The modern rep isn’t just about sales, it’s also bringing a concierge element to the relationship that builds trust. Reps must be able to coach GPs, not just with technology, but also in other ways of doing business – by looking through a more business-driven and CX lens.
A key part of this is knowing how to collect data, use data from target lists, and generate tactical ideas on how to further develop business. It’s also about being a coach to less digitally-savvy HCPs on technical needs by walking through the systems, CRMs, and other platforms that will be used for remote and online consultations. Reps must also become the eyes and ears of the life science company, taking on more of an advisory role and being able to leverage all knowledge at their disposal. This can enable them to proactively connect with specialists within the pharma company to gather best practices, advice, and insights in order to provide better advice to HCPs.

Make Sense of the Data

The sales rep role is evolving, but they’re still being held back. A better understanding of physician preferences can allow efforts to be shaped according to their changing needs, but this requires data. And when you fully embrace an omnichannel programme the data are often coming from lots of different sources in lots of different formats, making it hard to pull insights from. Static data scattered across different channels and traditional metrics measuring brand performance instead of more meaningful measurements like customer feedback, will continue to contribute to the challenges of reps.
In addition to data that are available about physicians’ prescribing patterns, sales reps lack information that allows them to understand physicians more personally – for example, their preferences, and a sense of their business dynamics. Even then, data are often already outdated when they finally get to the sales reps, a further barrier to having a deeper understanding of the doctor’s role.
To combat this, pharma companies must provide more comprehensive, accurate, and easy to understand data. Using technology to collect, organise, and compare the data available in different channels makes it possible to generate insights and recommendations to deliver a more personalised experience. Analytics can provide cross-selling opportunities, and even provide better insight into resourcing optimisation to help reps better address doctors’ needs.
The wealth of data that pharma companies possess could be the answer to supporting better decision-making. By using artificial intelligence solutions such as predictive analytics, pharma companies can extract real value from these data to forecast behaviours, events, and trends.

Digital Is the Driving Force

Digital interactions are no longer optional ‘nice to haves’. The pandemic has meant we’re relying on these channels to engage, and it shows no signs of abating. Being able to understand the needs of physicians is crucial to meeting patient needs, and this requires a hybrid approach for the sales cycle, moulding together digital and in-person meetings. The pharma industry must adapt to this new way of working, taking advantage of digital detailing fully to create a clearer CX.
Subtle changes like reshaping the sales force to be more customer-centric and organising sales forces by doctors’ needs instead of product needs are key. But it’s also important to consider how reps’ roles will evolve in line with digital detailing, and how best to support them on the journey. After all, they are central to orchestrating the process and best providing HCPs with the information they need.

Carolina Rossi Wosiack is Managing Director of EMEA at CI&T, a leader in driving digital transformation for global brands. Carolina is a seasoned digital executive with nearly 20 years of experience in innovative processes, people, and products, combining strategic and analytic insights and various strategy methods across design thinking and growth strategies. She has applied her expertise on a global scale across several industries in Europe, Brazil, the US, and LATAM, ranging from pharmaceuticals to consumer goods, banking and telecommunications. Carolina has helped transform leading companies such as Roche, Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson, and Ericsson to prepare and adjust their business for rapid adaptation in the digital world.