Predicting Trends 2023
The DHC Group
Future of Digital Innovation in Healthcare
As we wrap up 2022, we asked several key opinion leaders to weigh in on a series of questions related to the future of digital innovation in our industry. We’d like to thank the many experts that have contributed to DHC content over the past 12 months. Whether as video interviews, survey responses, or Summit speakers, the collective insights shared have been instrumental in advancing digital communication to both physicians and patients at a time when healthcare information was critical.
For this year’s closing thoughts, we asked the following questions:
- What was the most significant (innovative) advancement(s) in pharma sales and marketing in 2022?
- What new pharma sales and marketing trend(s) do you see emerging for 2023?
- What post-COVID workplace change do you want to keep/retain in 2023? What do you want to end (or go away as soon as possible)?
- What will be the new buzzword in pharma sales and marketing in 2023?
- What macro digital health trend do you think will have the biggest impact on pharma over the next five years?
Closing Thoughts in 2022
In your opinion, what was the most significant (innovative) advancement(s) in pharma sales and marketing in 2022?
The rise of influential digital opinion leaders (DOLs) and the increased use of social media by HCPs.
Listening. It sounds crazy and obvious, but listening to customers at scale and with speed across channels and then relentlessly resolving issues and challenges so they can get to the business of caring for people is an immense opportunity. I think it well help sales professional do better and sales leaders manage and support better. Call it the Rise of the Resolution Rep.
A greater focus on video and audio solutions that enable consumers to engage with content while multi-tasking as lack of time, particularly for HCPs, is a growing hurdle in accessing content.
Connected TV saw the biggest explosion in marketing by pharma brands in 2022. As linear TV audiences continue to shrink, the rise of streaming offers pharma marketers the opportunity to reach highly targeted audiences–instead of broad linear demographics–-in a more cost-effective way. The ability to leverage health data segments across the devices on which users stream content offers marketers the ability to reach highly qualified health condition audiences, measured in real time. CTV was a big focus across the industry in 2022 and will continue into 2023 and beyond as new streaming players enter the platform with ad-supported offerings. I also expect audio streaming to be on the heels of CTV as a hot topic of discussion at the year-end of 2023.
There have been many significant and innovative advancements in pharmaceutical sales and marketing in recent years. Some examples of these advancements include the use of data analytics to better understand customer needs and preferences, the development of new digital marketing and sales channels, and the increasing focus on patient-centered care and value-based pricing. In addition, the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies is becoming more prevalent in the pharmaceutical industry, and these technologies have the potential to greatly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of sales and marketing efforts. Overall, the pharmaceutical industry is undergoing significant changes and developments, and companies that can effectively adapt to these changes are likely to be well-positioned for success in the future.
Patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs) want to be in control of when and how they receive health content, and in 2022 pharma marketers continued to meet patients and HCPs where they are. For example, pharma marketers increasingly diversified their DTC media mix and invested in media channels like streaming video and online video, where consumers are spending more and more of their time. For HCP marketers, the latest Veeva Pulse Field Trends Report shows US HCP access has rebounded to 60%, up from pandemic levels estimated at 20%. A closer look reveals engagement is increasingly virtual: of the accessible HCPs, more than 50% meet with reps via a hybrid mix of in-person and video channels.
Artificial intelligence: It can deliver key insights on the behaviors of customers and end users (patients) in way never before imagined. Purchased lists for non-personal promotion campaigns are now much better evaluated, fairly funded, and instantaneously informed. Interaction between companies and preferred audiences utilizing CRM platforms and their surrounding programs are now much more predicable and, ultimately, more profitable. It’s not quite “The Terminator” movie scenario yet, but it’s getting closer, and while we humans are still in control, we should and can both enjoy and exploit it.
We often think about Innovation in terms of disruptive technology, new platforms & channels, or unique service offerings. We don’t often think about Innovation in terms of Ways of Working – and how people come together to solve problems and capitalize on opportunities to deliver value in new ways. But people are at the heart of Innovation. In 2022, we saw life sciences recognize that “Omnichannel” isn’t just a digital marketing strategy. And it isn’t just a data or AI play. It’s a completely new way of working across the organization, which requires the breakdown of traditional siloes and rethinking of roles. Marketing recognizing the Field as a channel. The Field thinking of data as an enabler – and recognizing their role in capturing insights to drive more personalized NPP interactions through Marketing. Putting our customers at the center requires new mindsets and collaboration beyond anything we’ve seen in the past. And we’ve seen that starting to take shape in 2022.
The continued integration of digital, data, and AI within the field force remains a key trend for the overall pharma commercial model – and innovation in general. The past two years gave every firm in the space a chance to test, learn, and refine their approach to technology at the core of the field force. It’s beyond tablets, laptops, and digital assets. The majority of organizations and brands now include next best action, recommendation engines, and are also beginning to open up a true feedback loop with their physician customers.
What new pharma sales and marketing trend(s) do you see emerging for 2023?
As consumers / HCPs enter another shift in this "post-COVID" world as well as the inevitable cookie-less future, I foresee advertisers looking beyond their core targets to pre-emptively capitalize on consumers behavior shifts.
Health equity will have a much larger role in 2023, thanks to the focused efforts and demands put forth by agencies, pharma marketers, and publishers throughout 2022. After two years of discussions and planning on how to address the health inequities plaguing the U.S., we’ll see those efforts come to fruition across the industry through unique data targeting models, content, first-to-market products, and partnerships. New initiatives from agencies, including CMI and PHM, put stakes in the ground demanding all voices be represented when it comes to the unique healthcare challenges faced by underrepresented communities. Health equity will be a priority in 2023, and I believe underrepresented audiences will see themselves more in content, messaging, and products.
With inflation and increasing economic uncertainty, we’re going to see pharma, doctors, and publishers working to help people understand and manage health costs. We know that for consumers, costs are a top barrier to getting care. They either can’t or think they can’t afford health care, and many people aren’t getting the information they need to understand and navigate treatment costs. While a focus on affordability isn’t entirely new, we will see the industry looking for fresh solutions that educate consumers and make their way forward easier.
2023 is going to be a big year for the adoption of Artificial Intelligence in all industries, but I'm excited to see how it plays out in pharma marketing. Successful marketers will embrace this technology's ability to scale efforts quickly and will relish in the data it provides, but it's still a new frontier so exact applications are still being defined by pioneers in the space.
The rise of short-form video. According to TikTok, 80% of executives think their brand understands their consumer’s needs, but only 15% of consumers agree. For these types of platforms, it’s critical that brands establish emotional connections with their customers and short-form video is the growing means of doing so.
One trend that is gaining popularity is the use of data analytics to better understand customer needs and preferences, as well as to identify potential new market opportunities. In addition, the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies is becoming more common in the pharmaceutical industry, and these technologies are being used to automate and improve various aspects of sales and marketing, such as customer segmentation and target marketing. Another trend that is emerging is the increasing focus on patient-centered care and value-based pricing, as pharmaceutical companies look for ways to provide better value to customers and improve patient outcomes.
Engaging individuals via relevant and timely human-centered experiences has always been a desire for pharmaceutical companies. As pharmaceutical companies are quickly becoming technology-mature, this capability is more apparent than ever. This means no longer relying on general macro-experiences that leave room for interpretation, but instead targeted and contextual micro-experiences that focus on individual need to drive positive brand-behaviors. All, where these micro-experiences can now be connected to one another, to promote lifecycle management that moves individuals along a journey to betterment, where a pharmaceutical company can act as true partner to solutions-oriented outcomes along the way. For this to be successful, requires experiences rooted in authenticity and efficiency. Authenticity is critical as we think about building trust and loyalty while healthcare consumerism remains center stage. More than ever patients expect to be respected partners, keenly involved in shared treatment decisions. They require highly-relevant information, allowing them to make informed decisions, to achieve positive outcomes which mean the most to their daily lives. HCPs need this information to be trustworthy, motivational and actionable, to help them collaborate effectively in light of the evolving patient-HCP dynamic.
Marketing data will surpass health data as a leading signal for pharma marketers. Connecting healthcare professionals (HCPs) and patients to essential and timely education has long been the aim of pharma marketers. But, reaching the right targets with the right message at the right time has been a challenge. Traditional marketing tactics have relied heavily on health data that, while valuable, creates a lagging signal. The use of prescription or diagnostic data, for example, means that opportunities to engage patients early in their healthcare journey have already passed. Marketing trigger data will change this paradigm by connecting anonymized, aggregated data on patient visits to brand.com pages to follow-up HCP visits. Companies like Bayer are already using this type of patient engagement data [url: https://www.veeva.com/customer-stories/bayer-putting-omnichannel-marketing-practices-into-practice/] to inform and enrich conversations with providers. And for rare diseases with small patient populations, this type of data can connect patients and HCPs more quickly, [url: https://www.pm360online.com/bringing-patient-data-into-your-omnichannel-strategy/] with tremendous upside. As new triggers are developed, marketing data generated by patients will become an increasingly important signal for pharma marketers, in combination with traditional health data. By capturing engagement data at critical moments in a patient's healthcare journey, trigger data will connect patients and HCPs with improved speed, relevance, and timeliness.
Per the Syneos Health 2023 Health Trends, in 2023, the most effective use of email will be less, not more. A recent study found that inbox fatigue sets in quickly. Engagement rates dip when promotional emails are sent more than once a week. In net, the report found that the most effective pacing of email for HCPs is four to six weeks apart. In addition to timing and relevance, we expect to see pharmaceutical leaders more consistently leveraging ambient digital media. Simple hyper-targeted, high-relevance banner and contextual ads delivered at the 1:1 level create the opportunity for HCPs to explore what’s next on their own time and terms rather than negotiating the crowded inbox. Many of these types of micro engagements will also create the opportunity for scaled up message testing to improve inbox communications. To learn more about additional trends Syneos Health expects will catalyze the year ahead, download 2023 Health Trends: Personally, Purposefully Building What's Next here.
Back to basics: nothing virtual can compete with actual personal presence - body language and eye contact at the end of the day go further than any digital interaction. Getting on that airplane, driving that car, handing over that coffee while shaking that hand (or fist bumping, which is much more sanitary), hearing that inflection of voice and agreeing (or disagreeing) and talking through it "live" has no competition or replacement. Humanity is back in the game, and the ones who can successfully traverse the evermore prominent virtual world, but still show up in the always-consistent material world, will be the ones who win.
Increased use of short video and video embedded in email and social media experimentation with podcasts and digital audio better integration of online & offline (reps) tactics.
I am not a fan of predicting the future, but I love accelerating the present and this is already happening. Operationalization of direct and passive customer feedback is going to continue to evolve into a customer operating system. Companies who are seeing trust scores go up are going to see increased access and advocacy so long as science is on their side. This will require optimizing access, affordability and helping support the clinicians' relationships with patients.
What post-COVID workplace change do you want to keep/retain in 2023? What do you want to end (or go away as soon as possible)?
As more and more companies return to their offices in 2023, the importance of flexibility will, and should, remain at the forefront in the post-COVID workplace. If we’ve learned anything about working from home, office re-entry, and post-COVID workplace rules, it is that there are no rules. When employees feel trusted and respected to make their workplace choices, meaning that they can select the best environment and fit for their productivity and individual lifestyle, they will be more loyal, devoted, and work even harder for their employers. I believe this will also help companies with employee retention. Personally , I’m grateful for a company and employer that recognizes my value and proves their trust by allowing me the flexibility to work from where I need to be. The new keyword for the workplace playbook is: flexibility.
There’s no question that hybrid is here to stay, and the flexibility it offers is a boon for workplace morale. There are real benefits when you trust your team to get their work done while offering a bit more work-life balance — as long as we’re still prioritizing direct engagement with teams and customers. At the same time, we should remember that virtual isn’t the only option anymore. There is real value to face-to-face interaction, and that should be part of our team-building strategies when possible.
The decision on which changes to retain or eliminate will depend on a variety of factors, including the needs and preferences of individual workers and employers, as well as the specific circumstances of each workplace. Some potential post-COVID workplace changes that may be worth retaining include the increased use of remote work and flexible scheduling, as well as new health and safety protocols designed to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. On the other hand, some changes that may not be as effective or desirable could include the overreliance on virtual communication and the loss of in-person collaboration and team-building opportunities. Ultimately, the decision on which post-COVID workplace changes to retain or eliminate will depend on the specific needs and circumstances of each workplace.
In the post-COVID workplace, and world, for that matter, it is less about wanting things to go away or end, but is instead about understanding how to adapt and evolve, in order to transform what is new into positive momentum. As a company that has migrated to a fully operational hybrid model, with a work-from-anywhere philosophy, this has truly enabled us to be more efficient with the skills and capabilities we are now able to provide, which has promoted a happier work environment, while providing a more robust service offering to the world. This is because this way of working has enabled us to acquire talent and the necessary skills, globally, rather than being reliant on limited talent and skills regionally. This has also enabled the ability for tighter collaboration across our employees and offices, where work can manifest in real-time, versus being time-constrained. Additionally, we can strategically place employees and configure teams more efficiently, to best serve our clients regardless of location. These positive aspects, which have been nurtured, have made us stronger as a service provider, where this only continues to strengthen, the more we embrace it. And these are all things that are worth keeping for ourselves, so we can always give back to our employees and the clients we service, in the best of ways.
Keep: The spirit that no matter where we are, we are all in this together and the new workplace could be bent but never broken. Go away: The rigidity to ways of working that were never meant for everyday people to live happily by. You can now Zoom into a meeting 2,000 miles away, if needed, reset limits to whom you can hire based solely on geography, and be flexible and accountable at the very same time. Business is a game that moves as we play; thus, we must keep moving forward. Adaptability and evolution are the key elements to continued post-COVID era success.
The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a shift in performance management from monitoring presence to monitoring productivity, engagement and outcomes. Our clients have taken the opportunity to move from measuring attendance or “reach & frequency” to measuring impact and engagement. We need more of that, for sure. We’ve seen a shift toward hybrid communications – and a recognition of the value of digital channels. That needs to continue. While the return-to-office shift has brought its own challenges (mandatory in-office days, etc.), I am looking forward to the return of in-person interaction and collaboration, whether in-office or in-community. We need to connect more, more often, in more meaningful ways.
Keep: Intense interest in peer-to-peer HCP interactions. Slow: Avalanche of email aimed at HCPs
I do not like having to wear shoes. I like having my dog under my desk. I like not flying. But, I really miss people. I kind of miss sitting around a table with smart, curious and passionate people beating up problems together though. I think we need to be together more and cherish face to face like we always should have.
Covid has forced us to accelerate the adoption of digital and hybrid models - both in advertising and workforces. Post-Covid we have tried to maintain that but also reintroduce the "old ways of doing things." Whether that is trying to have a large business meeting with attendees in person and remote or re-introduce a pharma sales force. I believe we should continue to find ways to integrate best practices from both eras, but I can not wait for those growing pains to be over!
What will be the new buzzword in pharma sales and marketing in 2023?
Video will continue to be priority for brands in 2023 and across multiple platforms and formats. 50% of time spent on Facebook and Instagram is viewing video and consumers are on Meta Reels for “edutainment”. They want to learn in an entertaining way.
Intervening moments. To effectively use digital innovation to approach humanity's biggest health challenges, we must take a holistic approach and look at the multifaceted reasons people do what they do. Why are unique segments making the decisions that they are making and how can we provide the right support and motivation to inspire and drive positive outcomes at the right time? The “why'' is the science behind the behaviors, the decision making, and will need to be at the core as we move into driving meaningful action in 2023. After a constantly evolving few years, people crave stability, support, connection and predictability. To enhance trust and loyalty, they need personalization, which includes removing unique obstacles and barriers, striking an emotional chord to shift behavior in the long term, to move towards the positive health outcomes that they desire. No longer can we raise awareness, through so-called educated guessing. We must maximize limited resources to achieve measurable results. Innovative ideas must hone in on moments of meaning along the journey and use behavioral science principles to add precision, efficiency and value to meet the needs of individuals, as they conquer the often overwhelming human challenges in achieving personal health goals.
Transformational: What can the industry do that is not just different, but also better? It's not enough anymore to be the last decade's buzzword, "innovative." Everything that seeks importance must be redefined - changing how people think, behave, and measure success in new ways that are redefining both the present day and the future world; this is what will be known as transformational.
I’m not sure, but I believe we know what it won’t (or can’t) be: “Omnichannel.” In early 2022, North Highland’s research showed that more than a third of key stakeholders in life sciences felt that Omnichannel was “just a buzzword.” To realize the promise and potential of Omnichannel – delivering the right message at the right time in the right way to drive desired customer behavior and collecting data at each touchpoint to drive the next - pharma marketing and sales teams will need to move beyond the buzzword and focus on the individual components that enable optimized experience: Customer-Centric Culture Closed Loop Feedback Modular Content Data-Literacy / Fluency Change Management & Behavioral Science Connected Experiences Agility
Not necessarily new: Omnichannel marketing mix.
Compassion - It is Empathy's More Athletic Cousin. We will talk more about felling and then doing something about it for colleagues and customers.
It will likely continue to be Omni-channel.
What macro digital health trend do you think will have the biggest impact on pharma over the next five years?
Over the next five years we’ll see brands building out transformative, end-to-end digital care solutions for consumers. Currently, healthcare sees low consumer engagement in large part due to poor UX. From finding new doctors to paying bills, the experience leaves a lot to be desired. Brands with a fresh, relentless focus on the consumer are poised to build incredible audience loyalty. People are already looking for information and accessing care online, and they are ready to flock to brands that offer them something new: a streamlined, integrated, and aesthetically appealing healthcare experience. Leaders in this space have the potential to scale up and become true giants in the $4 trillion U.S. healthcare industry. We’re already seeing traditional outlets and pharmacies step up to deliver digital solutions, like appointment reminders, texts to improve adherence, etc. The migration to digital care is ramping up, and brands who are currently consolidating channels and creating holistic, one-stop-shop solutions are poised to reach these consumers moving forward.
One macro trend in digital health that is likely to have a significant impact on the pharmaceutical industry is the increasing use of electronic health records (EHRs) and other forms of digital health data. The widespread adoption of EHRs and other digital health technologies has the potential to greatly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare system, which in turn could have a positive impact on the pharmaceutical industry. For example, EHRs can help healthcare providers to more easily access and analyze patient data, which could lead to better-informed treatment decisions and improved patient outcomes. In addition, the use of digital health technologies can help to reduce administrative burdens and improve communication between healthcare providers, which could help to drive down costs and improve the overall value of healthcare.
Access for everyday people and an aging population to engage and participate in their own healthcare journey with a family doctor, or a hospital system, and the local/state/federal government to ensure that all Americans have access to the best possible treatments, affordable options, and realistic long-term healthcare solutions for themselves and their families.
Digital health tools and data are revolutionizing healthcare delivery, giving patients, providers, and pharma companies access to more information than they’ve ever had before. At North Highland, we help clients across the healthcare ecosystem, and we’re seeing a new conversation emerging around the need to deliver “Omnichannel Care.” Providers, HealthTech companies, and Pharma all have a stake in making the patient experience more seamless to move patients from disease awareness through treatment and adherence to healthier lives.
Telehealth and urgent care become basic factors. The use of data models and predictive AI to identify and treat patients.
Same as always - DIOPAs - Devices In Our Pockets/Purses Already.
At recent conferences, there has been growing conversations in streamlining HCP and Patient marketing plans. I believe bridging that gap is crucial for positive HCP to Patient relationships and overall outcomes. If there is to be more integration of pharma teams and marketing plans from the HCP and Patient teams, that will have overall impacts on media plans which will trickle down to agencies and partners alike.
While the Metaverse is still in its infancy, I foresee health to be a user experience playground for immersive technologies such as virtual reality. Even today, VR is educating consumers on health journeys in ways we thought unimaginable just a few years ago, and, as adoption and innovation increase, it may even help improve health outcomes. Pharma marketers along with publishers have the ability to be leaders in this new frontier, with potential positive applications in clinical trial recruitment, condition-specific treatments, and digital therapeutics. The possibilities are only limited by our imaginations and I, for one, am thrilled to see where these disruptive technologies will take pharma over the next five years.
Connected care – broadly defined as technology linking a patient with any care providers – received a major boost the past two years through relaxed regulations (or barriers to care), reimbursement, as well as data sharing and integration. These moves helped platforms move beyond isolated care add-ons (with limited reimbursement) to viable channels for most patients and in some cases they have become a critical part of the care pathway for new, existing, and returning patients. While in-person care in an office setting can’t be replaced in many situations and therapeutic areas, we learned that perhaps 15% - 20% or maybe 25% of care for a patient could be digital first or digital only. In addition to reimbursement, the technology and ease of use for patients and their physicians has significantly improved. In short, the platforms improved with broader use and uptake. It’s considered normal today when a practice says – do you want to come in or do you want to schedule a virtual visit? The impact on pharma is ease and speed of the first fill (or refill) as well as decreasing gaps in care (or access to care in the first place) that may have been limited by required in-person office visits.