Article: Year End Trends - DHC Members Discuss - Dec 2019
2019 – The Introduction
At the same time, the privacy-safe and compliant collection of data reached a phase in 2019 where data analytics trumped creative as the primary focus in strategic marketing plans. Balancing the data science inputs, this was also a year where authentic and empathetic communication had muscle as a more than a buzzword. Innovations in social media communities, chatbots, and contextual content meant that pharma brands offered both patients and physicians more meaningful and impactful messaging and resources.
Although we’re already twenty years into the connectivity wave of digital health, the combination of the exponential growth in the amount of data combined with the willingness of more partners to standardize and share clinical data between patients, providers, and payers – in a secure manner of course – will usher in the next generation of truly connected health. This level of integration will present opportunities to brands and organizations willing to explore new relationships and risk-based agreements with the end of goal of optimal patient outcomes.
2019 – The Highlights
Finding the Physician
Chris Tuleya, EVP, Managing Director, Underscore Marketing considered “2019 was the year where marketers acknowledged that physicians are people too. They aren’t just an NPI # but have their own approach to learning and growing.”
We saw this in several ways throughout 2019 – thanks to DHC partner, SERMO, a series of physician surveys offered DHC marketers deeper insights into the needs and attitudes of physicians, allowing for more tailored communications.
At the DHC Northeast Summit, hosted by AMAG, Azita McDermott, Director of Marketing at EMD Serono noted “one of the trends that continues in the HCP landscape is physicians’ time is crowded. They don’t have time to spend with their own patients, much less spend with our sales reps. This is an area where digital channels really helps us.”
The Role of AI
Right now, Prime Therapeutics is employing AI to analyze prescription ordering data to identify fraud. Sanofi is using AI to understand people’s biological responses to vaccines, and Bayer is using the technology to distinguish patients who have chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) from those who have similar symptoms but do not have CTEPH. From R&D to marketing messaging, AI-based solutions seem infinite.
The use of AI to impact patient engagement and authentic patient experience emerged in several ways this year, including the use of chatbots and telemedicine. In a marketers discussion at the AstraZeneca-hosted DHC Summit, Ryan Billings of GSK reflected on the advancements they had made in creating a chatbot that offered a build-your-own experience based on the patient’s current place in the journey. The innovation in design and execution reflected significant strides in connecting social media with AI driven technology, ultimately driving the patient to the option to connect with a physician via telemedicine. Ryan summarized “at the end of the day, regardless of technology and landscape changes, it’s all about figuring out the unknown and meeting customers where they are.”
Preparing The Toolbox
The lynchpin to effectively use these tools, however, remains the same when it comes to communicating with healthcare providers and patients: identity data that is first-party sourced, opted-in and audited by a third party. “Good data in” ensures pharma marketers are able to unlock the power of existing and emerging tools, across channels, to create meaningful, engaging experiences for healthcare audiences.
Karan Arora, AstraZeneca’s Global VP of Innovation, when addressing the DHC Fall East Coast Summit attendees, summarized the ideal toolset for marketers as:
ONE – become well-versed around content strategy. Know what you are building and why are you building it. Are you making sure you are building the right thing? Be able to communicate the “why” behind the content is a big piece from a transformation standpoint.
TWO – focus on the patient journey, spending time really understanding the patients and HCPs.
THREE – analytics. Get much sharper around what the benchmark is.
2020 – What’s Coming Next
The pharma marketers we queried echoed Tighe’s and Karan’s sentiments. When asked about the greatest marketing opportunities for both patients and physicians, pharma marketer from leading pharma cos. responded that “data aggregation and modeling” as well as “better data and applications to pull insights out of the EHR” were themes around physician-focused opportunities. When considering patients, the need for “more engagement by pharma/biotech in social media” matched with an interest in innovation around “connected devices” and “gaming, experience design and point-of-care innovation” indicates that marketers are looking at a range of data and experience-driven innovations.
Meanwhile, the hurdles identified that might prevent ideal innovation pace and success were a mix of external and internal issues. Some marketers are more concerned with “pricing pressures” / “focus on drug pricing” while others noted the risk of “groupthink” and “technical integrations challenges”.
Patients As People - Defining the Message
I think in 2020, as we see continual shifts in content consumption – with users firmly in charge of how and when they engage – marketers will lean even more heavily into developing more meaningful connections by reaching their target audiences through brand-safe, quality content they are already immersing themselves in, content that appeals to them as people, not patients.
Marketers will learn how to effectively and authentically integrate themselves into these experiences, with a keen eye towards the regulatory environment that can sometimes make that more challenging.
2020 is the year of effective “edutainment”.”
As we head into 2020, solving the challenges of connecting these pathways will remain a front-and-center pursuit for all stakeholders. We must come together as an industry to address existing hurdles related to privacy. We must strike the right balance between protecting patient interests and promoting patient-centered care, and we must connect the dots between data and care. The stakes around improving research, care management and population health are simply too high for this priority to take a back seat.
Consider healthcare’s $300 billion medication adherence problem—an area where OptimizeRx has established its foothold. When digital communication pathways bring together providers, pharma, payers and patients, the potential to dynamically improve the outlook is significant. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The Data Horizon
In fact in 2021, eMarketer predicts that nearly 90% of US digital display advertising will be purchased programmatically. The healthcare industry has lagged far behind due to a myriad of concerns around data privacy, FDA regulations, and the “conservatism” of life science companies. According to PulsePoint, less than 20% of all digital healthcare spend is done programmatically. In 2020, we believe this changes.
As we can see in the rest of the healthcare sector, technology and data are revolutionizing all aspects of the sector. And like in marketing, data and technology will pave the way for healthcare marketers to achieve their goals not just at the scale needed to be successful on the digital landscape but in a way that enables them to achieve better health outcomes for patients.
For example, in our targeting approach, we apply methods to identify very specific patient segments tied to addresses and digital IDs across devices (while remaining privacy-safe and HIPAA compliant). The evolution from propensity modeling to a more precise identification of the actual patients that our pharma clients need to reach is already in practice. It will continue to expand and improve as additional data sources and technologies are developed.
By tailoring content that is relevant on a more personal level, pharma brands will develop higher-quality connections with patients which will in turn generate better outcomes. Advancements in deterministic, individually based marketing will also mean improved ROI and a significant reduction in wasteful spending.
The Path Forward
A gift that pharma marketers can give themselves in 2020 is to cultivate a mindset toward ever-greater tactical integration. This means designing and executing a marketing system across channels–and even audiences–and being clear about which investments contribute to the success of the system and which do not.
The simple trick with marketing is to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. While disconnected tactics can generate early results—and even win creative awards—they tend to be inefficient and ultimately short lived unless they perform a critical role in the ‘machine’ that processes prospects and turns them into loyal customers.
The DHC looks forward to partnering with industry thought leaders and partners in 2020 offer education, engagement, and inspiration as everyone seeks to do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t. We will see you in 2020!