Pharma Websites Among The Most Effective Online Platforms

There is another reason why titles like “Pharma is behind on the web” and “Pharma doesn’t get e-health” are getting outdated. According to the Bowen Craggs Index published in the Financial Times the websites of Roche and Novartis are in the top 10 most effective portals among corporate sites. Other pharma companies were also included – AstraZeneca took the 13th and Sanofi the 17th place on the list.

One can read numerous articles about how pharma is the slowest industry to adapt to digital and online solutions and still, some companies like Roche and Novartis managed to be relevant and secure better positions than robust corporations like Nestle, Microsoft and Coca-Cola. This means that other pharma companies cannot use the industry’s bad example anymore for their own lack of online initiatives.

In its study Bowen Craggs & Co points out several issues that pharma companies with less effective web presence have in common. Most of the time portals operated in the United States are supposed to work as the corporation’s global site but it lacks information about worldwide initiatives and activities. Another issue is that pharma companies are trying to put together their websites as an iPad app, but these sites only look like apps, they don’t operate like ones. If the functionality of the application setup is missing, there is no point in turning our portals into applications.

There is another issue concerning mobile trends – out of 81 companies analyzed in the study only 25 of them had separate mobile versions. Among the numerous pharma companies only four of them, namely Bayer, Boehringer, Pfizer and Shire have websites accessible on mobile devices without a problem.

While I don’t necessarily think that one single index number can describe a company’s online efforts, but it is certainly helpful in creating an environment a little more competitive. This way pharma companies can see how well others are doing and realize – an industry is not behind in general. There are teams and organizations within the industry that are up-to-date, using cutting-edge solutions and have no problem adapting to new and creative online solutions to be more effective.

(Source: PMLiVE.com)

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A Guide For Effective Detailing

When it comes to detailing, there are a lot of different factors pharma pales reps have to take into consideration. There are a lot of different circumstances that influence what type of presentation a sales rep can give, assuming getting the opportunity to present something of course. A lot of times even getting the physicians divided attention takes a lot of effort. So because all the possible difficulties, reps have to be prepared for a number of scenarios and have to be flexible readjusting their detail plan along the way.

The infographic below helps to decide what kind of approach is fit for different situations. You can prepare the most cutting edge e-detailing presentation, if there is no time or place to show it to the physician, you have to do your best verbally. No access to physicians always seems to be an obstacle, in which case maybe it is more effective to send the details electronically so that the doctors can view them on their own schedule.

Here are the main pain points pharma representatives face on a daily basis and the possible solutions to overcome these obstacles:

 

(Source: Healthcarecommunication.com)

The Shifting Business Model Of Pharma

A recent study carried out by Booz & Company and National Analysts Worldwide showed a lot of interesting data on how pharma executives see the industry, what they think are the most pressing challenges and how they are planning on changing their business according to the new economic environment.

They survey gathered answers from more than 150 pharmaceutical decision makers working in the US and Europe. Among the respondents were directors, vice presidents and managers. Their replies suggested something that is part of the pharma conversations for a long time now. Namely that the current model of doing business is not effective anymore and there is a significant need for transforming the industry.

Key findings:

  • 44% of respondents suggested that the pharma industry’s business model is not working, 24% strongly agreed with this notion. Only 6% disagreed.
  • When asked about the biggest challenges pharma is going to have to face in the coming years, 76% of respondents mentioned the pressure from cutting budgets and the rising price of healthcare. The second issue most decision makers (70%) were concerned about was delivering cost-effective solutions and demonstrating success in finding these alternative solutions. 60% of respondents said they fear the competition coming from generic products, while 53% finds less access to physicians a pressing issue. Interestingly with higher healthcare pricing being such a big concern, only 50% of respondents were worried about how patients are going to pay for their medications.
  • There is no agreement between decision makers about how these changes are going to effect the actual time that pharma representatives will spend with physicians. 43% of respondents said they believe face time with doctors will decrease, while 26% of executives thought the opposite.
  • According to the data gathered digital solutions are going to be the go-to sources to cut costs and to be more cost-effective. 58% of respondents plan on spending more on social media aimed at physicians, 55% are going to increase spending on mobile solutions while 52% of executives mentioned e-detailing as one of the main areas to focus on.

The shift from the old model of the pharma industry toward a digital, more social and interactive way to do business seems inevitable. The question remains how different companies are going to face the challenges of change and how effectively they can implement new solutions into their business.

(Source: Pharmalot.com)

Strategic Change, Value Innovation and Drimpy.com – Interview with Rob Halkes

Rob Halkes has been working as a consultant in healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing for 20 years. He gained experience in the industry focusing on strategic change, professional development and innovation in pharma. He is also part of the development team of the integrated healthcare platform, Drimpy. We asked him to share his insights on the changing environment of the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare.

You have been urging strategic change in the pharmaceutical industry. Why is this issue important and what kind of specific changes do you think pharma companies should consider?

Because of the current economic situation, the trend in healthcare will be “more care for less money”. For all governments in healthcare in Europe, it is easy to cut costs on pharmaceutical products. So we see an enormous pressure in a lot of countries, not only in the Western countries, but in the Eastern countries of Europe as well. We see a lot of pressure on cutting and reducing prices and on the replacement and substitution of premium and specialty products with generic pharmaceutical products. To the pharmaceutical companies it will mean that they are trying to sell their products in the context of a commodity trap. The commodity trap is an economic phrase that implicates that prices for premium products will be inflated by upcoming generics or cheaper products. If you go along with the trend to make cheaper products or to sell your products for cheaper prices, you will find yourself in a downward spiral. The pharmaceutical companies have no tradition in trying to innovate their marketing approach other than just creating new products, submitting those to the market and introducing those at a higher price. And now premium innovative products are being replaced by generics. So although you may have made or developed very good innovative pharmaceutical products, those will tend to be replaced by generic ones. The market of specialty products merges with the market for OTC or generic products. The only solution to escape the commodity trap is to innovate your marketing approach.

That can be done if you are willing and competent to make a strategic change towards helping the doctors to treat their patients better. Helping means a two-step process: not just helping doctors to prescribe your product, but helping doctors with your product to be able to help patients better. Then you can convince the prescribers that there is more to your product than just the product itself, that you are also actively supporting the doctors to innovate their caring for the patients to support them better.  This added value could be the reason for a higher price instead of going down with the commodity trap. This is difficult for pharmaceutical companies because for 20 years now they have been on the same business model of promoting new products for higher prices – that will come to an end now. That is only one issue of all difficulties that present themselves to pharmaceutical companies.

More strict regulation of promotion, lesser access to prescribers, upcoming generics and new stakeholders – these are other issues in the pharmaceutical industry that need to be mentioned. Governments, healthcare insurance companies, payers and patients are all new stakeholders that will come to the market with a clearer voice that they want better products for a better care. Hence, strategic change is necessary when it comes to changing market conditions and the way the conditions and caring for health are changing in different countries. Adapting to the conditions in specific countries will become relevant. The European affiliates will have to design their approach according to the local conditions of care.

You also developed a new business model called “value innovation” for the pharmaceutical industry. Could you describe this concept?

The approach of value innovation that I developed in the Netherlands has very clear results. We can show graphics of the outcome and how obvious the changes and results are. Through these results the model speaks for itself. The approach of value innovation is based on two principles:

The first is that as a pharma company you have to support your healthcare providers – doctors, specialists and pharmacists – to help their patients better by improving their way of caring for the patients. There are two concepts for this kind of care: integrated care and participatory care. That’s the first principle: innovate for your healthcare providers to help them improve the way in which they are performing their care for health. It might look as though you are mingling with their business. But in our experience healthcare providers mostly don’t have time to reflect on how they are providing care. When you help them with expertise, training and other services, you will be appreciated as someone who is caring for their interests and is acting on their behalf. When you do so with integrity, you will gain a different market position: a trusted one. It will reimburse you through the attention that your product is getting from them as being your partners in the business of caring for patients. For a lot of companies this will be a change in their selling approach. They have to learn how to submit and propose those services, because it differs much from just detailing.

The second principle is based on the necessity to differentiate between your targeted doctors: between those who will readily appreciate what you are doing, and those who will not. Most of the pharmaceutical companies already segment their priority doctors as to their individual potential for business. I propose to extend this to differentiate between those who have an innovative stance to healthcare development and those who don’t. In a changing landscape of healthcare, those who do want to improve their way of caring for patients will often collaborate with colleagues to approach innovation in care cooperatively. We see examples in health care groups, like “Zorggroepen” in the Netherlands, the Policlinics or medical centers in Germany or the GP consortia in the UK. We developed a segmentation procedure with which you can target the GP centers that are the most influential and have the most potential to cooperate with as a pharmaceutical company. The benefit for those that do want to work with you will be that patients and other stakeholders in care will notice that by working together in a co-creative way, it is possible to create better outcomes of care with less cost. It will lead to a higher satisfaction for patients and for a lower cost of patient per year in specific care programs, especially for chronic care. And if you can demonstrate, that you as a pharmaceutical company are helping the healthcare system in this direction, you will get a lot of attention that will lead to a position of preference that will help your business as well.

So actually the change will be from a purely product-oriented approach toward a patient- and healthcare-oriented position. And that is an orientation that healthcare providers and doctors will recognize as a change from selling toward helping.

Last October you showcased Drimpy.com at the Health 2.0 Europe conference. Could you tell us about this project and its aims?

This particular project is two years old now. We started it with the founder and owner of Drimpy, Arnold Breukhoven in the Netherlands. He had the idea of a health platform for integrated care in which patients could communicate better and have a better relationship through the online network with healthcare providers. We did see this not only as a necessity from the patients’ point of view but also from doctors’ perspective. Data and information from the patient is relevant for the doctor to act upon. Doctors often want to get information from a patient that the patient isn’t able to generate readily. He hasn’t been tracking his health parameters before the consult, doesn’t know precisely how often he has suffered from certain conditions, is not aware of the medication he actually uses, etc. With Drimpy the patient is able to collect and monitor his health parameters like blood pressure, sugar level, daily complaints, pain sensations, etc. and record his health-related information, medications, conditions, allergies, as well as store his health related documents (documents made by the patient himself, documents received from the lab or from the hospital, for example an x-rays). So a lot of data and information can be added and tracked on the platform that will help a doctor to diagnose the patient and implement a therapy in a much more effective and satisfactory way. Furthermore, the platform not only functions as a personal health record, but also as a communication device in which the patients and caregivers can communicate and interact privately.  Naturally, Drimpy also facilitates specific applications to support the patient and his/her loved ones with adequate and reliable information to help them understand and better cope with their conditions. It supports them in compliance-related activities as well. In doing so Drimpy works as an Ehealth platform, safely and reliably.

The site is firstly based on the principle of being an integrated care platform: activities from the different caregivers like doctors, pharmacists and hospitals come together to the patient’s benefit. Secondly the platform is patient-based. The site is designed from a participatory point of view. Anyone who registers on the platform can do this. Thirdly, and that is the most interesting feature, the patient has a private network that he/she can develop for people to be a part of his/her healthcare team, and to give them access to certain personal health information. The platform is set up like a private Facebook so the patient can select people that he wants to share information with and add those who want to help him in coping with his conditions. Drimpy.com is thus an integrated healthcare platform that is managed by the patient himself being in the position to select and keep the data that he wants to track and to invite and work with those caregivers who he wants to work with. Drimpy puts the patient in the position to set up his healthcare in a participatory way.

The digital ways of setting up a network like you just described in connection with Drimpy.com seem to work for patients and doctors. How do you see the pharmaceutical companies in this mix? How do they usually react to these digital solutions in your experience?

First of all, when it comes to Drimpy we see the site as a platform with which it is possible to organize the processes of care, to organize the caring for health itself. Making it clearer for the patient what the doctor is doing during the treatment is important because the patient has to work with the doctor to set up and complete his therapy. This will result in a better understanding between both parties about what they are doing, why they are doing it and how they will proceed. So it enlightens all the processes of care and makes telemonitoring and telecare possible. That will at least reduce the time spent on unnecessary face-to-face consults. It will enable them both to be efficient with face-to-face time. As a result the doctor will have more time to attend to difficult patients rather than to routinely work through consults that are actually not needed. The doctors and patients can reserve consults for those situations where they are necessary to optimize the therapy. This makes everything more rationalistic and more efficient. The point of course, is to have doctors and patients learn about how they can do this, and to customize the platform towards the specific needs of chronic conditions like diabetes or COPD, etc. The pharmaceutical companies can offer this facility to the doctors as a service from their side. With Drimpy they have a very distinguishing service to deliver to doctors. When they do, I’m sure doctors will be surprised and thankful to get help with implementing this version of telehealth in their practice, so they can help their patients with more satisfaction.

We talked about a lot of new trends: strategic change, new business models, new platforms and ways of talking to doctors from the pharmaceutical companies’ point of view. How do you see all these trends changing in the next year?

I presume that healthcare providers – doctors, hospitals, and pharmacists – will be quicker to adopt social media for the benefit of improving care and their relationship with patients. And pharmaceutical companies will be next. That is because healthcare providers – as we see in the Western countries – will understand that social media is relevant to their practice. Social media, integrated in healthcare processes will become more and more popular. In the near future one will not be able to work without them. Social media will help doctors to distinguish their position and help them in reaching out to their patients. They will first adopt social media in a web 1.0 and then 2.0 fashion, and then in a more integrated way as we have seen it with Drimpy. Drimpy itself facilitates healthcare providers to quickly integrate social media into their practices.

Pharmaceutical companies have to cross a threshold to change their business. That is a huge task for them, and to also look at the internal condition of the pharmaceutical companies. Because it is still very tricky for them – as they perceive it – to change in ways in which they are actually delivering services to doctors to help their patients better. Providing service in this way is a way of doing business that they are not accustomed to. They will be reluctant because they see that it will be a big change. As one of our pharmaceutical affiliates in the Netherlands said: “The hard thing is not so much to change towards the local conditions of the Dutch market, it is more difficult to get an approval to do so from the European headquarters.” It seems that changing the internal conditions of a pharmaceutical company is harder than to just change into a country-based marketing approach. But luckily we are in a position to work with pharmaceutical companies to show them how they might embark on this adventure and we can also learn from examples in other countries, like the UK or Germany. We can show them how they can present themselves in difficult situations and how they can move further towards solutions that would help their business as well.

You mentioned that pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to change their ways of doing business. In your experience what are the main obstacles that they mention when it comes to implementing a new model or new marketing solutions?

Well, the main obstacle is to adopt the vision that you can do your business in a different way than you have been doing until now. The pharmaceutical industry has one of the most traditional ways of doing business in the Western world. These companies have not changed in the sense of adapting their businesses according to the market conditions for the last 10, or maybe 15 years. And the pharma rep model in which they are promoting the product in detail conversations with doctors is the most sustainable business model that we have seen. They are so accustomed to it, that it is very hard to implement any change. So this is where we provide assistance. We have a concrete and specific way in which we can guide them step by step to change their ways of marketing in order to change in a manageable way instead of changing overnight in a troublesome way. Guidance is important to change, so that the development of the business doesn’t disrupt the outcome. The most difficult steps are to learn how you should do these things differently, to try to experiment with it carefully and to build up a new company and new sales force.

Change is a very difficult thing to do, not only for pharmaceutical companies but for doctors as well. Local market conditions will show them that past performances will not sustain their business for the future automatically. You have to implement the changes that are necessary in the framework of the system of healthcare and its renewal. When these changes emerge, pharmaceutical companies either get lost in the market or they adapt to these changing conditions, partner with healthcare providers and help them to provide better care in their countries. The ones that are daring to take the first step towards the changes are the ones that learn how to change and provide this specific support. This very competence will be strategic in the years to come. The first ones to move will have this advantage over their competition. If you wait until others have changed, you can only pick up what’s left over in the market. The first ones have the benefit of choice and of learning how to proceed. Going on with following a routine is easy, making the changes, learning how to do things differently is however one of the most difficult things for people to do.

(You can connect with Rob Halkes on Twitter.)

Social Media Tips For Pharma Companies

Recently I read an interview with Gillian Tachibana, head of eMedia and social media at Merck Serono. She pointed out some basic issues that pharmaceutical companies should consider when using social media in their business.

As I mentioned it in our last post, some of the pharma companies are embracing social media and realize the value that patient engagement and social communication hold for them. They also pay attention to the special regulatory requirements that the industry demands. But there is always room for growth, there are always opportunities for improvements.

Gillian Tachibana raises an interesting point when she says: “Social media is being treated as a separate beast in itself … it’s not.” Just because social media is considered a new approach and a new channel to reach customers – although it can’t longer be called the hottest thing in digital marketing –, it doesn’t mean it has to be handled as something separate from the company’s marketing strategy. It should be an integral part of all marketing activities.

She also argues that listening is key in social media, especially before deciding where to set up an account, what platform to choose for a marketing campaign. I do agree that to reach a target audience it is important to find out where they are, but I also think that pharma companies are not destined to follow their audience, they can be – and should be – the ones setting an example, they can be early adapters to be followed. It’s also crucial to emphasize that listening and monitoring doesn’t stop with choosing the right platform and setting up an account. First of all, a pharma company should be always alert and aware of all activities happening on its social media accounts. Secondly, one social media tool could be the right choice at one point, but in the digital environment changes come fast, new solutions appear day after day, and a digitally savvy company cannot afford to be left behind or not up-to-date with the latest technologies.

Another important lesson from the above mentioned post is that you can’t base an entire social media strategy on the idea that using social platforms is important because everybody else is doing it. Copying doesn’t work with digital campaigns, it gets obvious very quickly. Not to mention that social media efforts that are built on only competition and not for the benefit of the audience, are very likely to disappear, and disappear fast. That’s why it is better to take time to plan ahead, to consider every aspect of how social media might effect a company’s marketing activity. There is no need to “jump headfirst into a lake”, it looks like social channels are here to stay, so there is plenty of time to prepare and make improvements.

(Source: PMLiVE.com)

Pharma And Social Media – Where Are The Companies Now?

There has been a lot written about the pharmaceutical industry being slow to implement social media and how it is not willing to actively engage with patients and other healthcare stakeholders. It might be time to change the sharp tone of criticism, and give to best practices and good solutions the attention they deserve. There is still a lot to do of course, but looking at pharma as an industry that is not capable of change is not an option anymore. And here is why.

While there are companies that are reluctant to use social media as an integrated part of their marketing strategy, others have realized the value of social communication and engagement and they are doing their best to navigate on the relatively new platforms, while meeting the strict regulatory requirements of the industry. For example GlaxoSmithKline with more than 22 000 fans on Facebook is making sure all of its followers are communicating respectfully and urges them to consider certain legal matters. They let their Facebook fans know how and why the company is using the platform by having all this information on their landing page. This is one of the many examples how a company can use social media consciously and still keep the important regulatory issues in mind.

Obviously when using social media it is not enough to just „simply” follow the guidelines published by different authorities, companies also have to use the platforms what they are created for. We can’t talk about communication unless both parties (the company and its audience) are participating in it. There is no social media without interaction. Case in point the Twitter – or any other social media account for that matter – of Boehringer Ingelheim. On Twitter they share interesting content, they retweet, they ask and answer questions. They interact. Not to mention the fact that the company realizes what numerous studies have shown, that people are more likely to engage with pharma companies on social platforms if they know exactly who they are talking to. On the Twitter page of Boehringer Ingelheim the company makes sure to state who shares their tweets, so people can connect the posts to actual faces.

Also, companies have to realize, social media is not just about the numbers. You can have millions of fans on Facebook, thousands of followers on Twitter – if you don’t use the platform wisely, if you don’t use the opportunity to actually connect with people, it doesn’t matter how many fans you have. Pfizer for example has almost 48 000 Facebook fans. It is an impressive number that looks really good in corporate presentations, you can use it as an argument in meetings, but unless you communicate and engage with those people, big numbers are pointless. Pfizer is actively using its Facebook page to share company-related news, and more importantly to give patients a chance to report adverse events. While this may seem like the worst nightmare for many companies, it is an effective and responsible way of dealing with issues that are there, whether a company acknowledges them or not. The discussions are happening whether we listen or not.

Ways Of Gaining Trust Again In Pharma

A recent study by Edelman proved what pharma marketers and consultants knew for a long time now: the consumers’ trust in pharmaceutical companies is severely shattered. According to new findings the credibility of the industry decreased significantly with the level of trust in pharma companies dropping almost 10% from 61 to 56. It is illogical and not realistic to think that the global issues of the sector can be solved with old tactics and practices. To fix these problems and gain back the trust of consumers pharmaceutical companies have to acquire a new approach.

Luckily the economic surroundings, results of several researches and new global communication trends all point in the same direction. All pharma companies need to do is to actually recognize this direction and give up the old, habitual and ineffective ways of marketing and talking to their audience. Case in point: the excessive spending on TV ads. Here are the key reasons pharma companies should revisit their strategy about television advertising:

  • The global economic situation doesn’t provide financial resources to support expensive and rather ineffective advertising methods. These days TV ads fall into this category.
  • Stricter regulations also make it harder to include key products in TV advertising and also influence the development process of such ads.
  • Controversies in the past in connection with heavily advertised drugs resulted in the consumer assumption that pharmaceutical products promoted on television cannot be trusted.

The findings of recent studies and new trends also seem to prove that the future is not about TV advertising and old ways of marketing but rather about social engagement, co-operation and two-way communication. Online communities and social platforms quickly gained popularity in the past few years creating never before seen changes in the way we communicate, share and consume information. So it is no surprise that consumers trust people like them more and more and take their advice rather than following a push message marketed “at” them and not “with” them. According to the study mentioned above people trust others similar to them more and more. The level of consumer trust in others’ opinion increased from 43% to 65%.

The opposite trends of the changing level of trust are undeniable when it comes to pharma companies and peers. So wouldn’t it make sense to focus on what works, to pay more attention to integrating peer-based tools like social media and patient communities into the marketing strategy? Wouldn’t it make sense to focus and spend less on marketing tools, like TV ads that doesn’t work anymore? New approaches are desperately needed, because clearly, the old ways couldn’t secure the industry’s credibility.

(Source: Health Talker)