“The future has already arrived. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.”
– William Gibson
The future of pharma brand launches has arrived, and for teams adapting to the powerful digital trends driving commercial innovation – it is a very bright future indeed! Driven by a growing focus on specialty medicines, the life-sciences industry has dozens of new products in the pipeline. However, as these products begin coming to market in the second half of the decade, commercial teams will need to consider new launch strategies and tactics to navigate an increasingly complex future – within both the digital marketing space and the broader healthcare system.
For future-facing organizations, these 10 Digital Trends will be especially important in shaping commercial innovation and brand launches – and future-proofing their investment.
1. SHARED EXPERIENCES
More than ever, digital platforms and tools allow users to collaborate, communicate and connect with one another in ways that were scarcely imaginable just a few short years ago. This trend toward “always-on connectivity” will accelerate to even more intense levels as smartphone technology and related apps make constant collaboration and connectivity an everyday reality. Launch brands need to recognize and harness this trend by building shared patient and HCP experiences into the heart of their strategies.
2. “BIONIC” FIELD SALES FORCE
While the days of giant pharma sales forces are a thing of the past, it doesn’t mean reps will disappear altogether. Reduced access to physicians for face-to-face visits requires a new approach. Instead, armed with a powerful set of mobile digital tools, back-office marketing automation, and the ability to deliver personalized just-in-time content, the sales force of the future will have bionic enhancements to allow them to drive the sales cycle in highly targeted niches and reach specific HCPs and patients.
3. CONTENT CURATION
The growing specialization and sophistication of today’s treatment regimens require patients and HCPs to navigate and attempt to understand incredible amounts of medical information related to myriad conditions. While brand teams will certainly want to come to market with their own health-literate materials, content curation of third-party sources will play an increasingly important role in brand launch activities. This curation process saves patients from having to become a Google health search expert, and provides invaluable vetting of the content from a trusted source.
4. ENHANCED DIAGNOSTICS
The costs of genetic testing, wearable tech, and embedded diagnostics devices are all falling dramatically. In fact, the next few years promise to bring an array of devices to market that seem straight out of a science-fiction movie. Combined with always-on monitoring, this “Internet of Diagnostics” is ushering in a future in which patients and their healthcare team will have accurate 24/7 data streams about their health status. Brands that position themselves to take advantage this diagnostic revolution will find enhanced acceptance by patients, HCPs, and increasingly – healthcare payers and providers.
5. COLLABORATIVE ECONOMY
It’s no secret that life-sciences companies often struggle to build trust with patient population groups, as well as HCPs. Fortunately, collaborative tools and communication platforms now exist that make it cost-effective for brand teams to co-create and collaborate across a wide range of market-facing activities. When structured correctly, this collaborative approach is highly transparent, patient relevant, and can engender a great deal of trust and transparency between the brand and patient populations – especially those with rare or complex diseases.
6. MOBILE FIRST
It’s hard to imagine, but we are still in the early innings of the mobile revolution. As smartphones and tablets grow ever more powerful and ubiquitous, the reach and power of mobile apps is poised to become truly transformative – especially within healthcare. Launch brands need to view their patient populations and product features through the lens of a completely mobile world. This reframing of the patient experience from a mobile first perspective offers opportunities for increased white-glove service across the entire patient journey.
7. DIGITAL COMMERCE & PAYMENTS
The fiercely competitive online retail space is constantly raising the bar in terms of customer expectations, payments, and experience. While drug companies and healthcare providers may not think they are competing with Amazon, patients are becoming more used to clicking and having a product arrive on their doorstep – often in just a day or two – and soon maybe on the same day. Likewise, patients who have grown used to swiping their smartphone in a checkout line are going to get impatient when they visit their HCPs and have to fill out endless reams of paperwork on a clipboard. For launch brands, it becomes imperative to have a service mindset that mirrors the pace and personalization of leading online retailers.
8. LIFE ALGORITHMS
Beyond simply collecting patient data, powerful new algorithms are emerging that can process the data and make real-time recommendations about behavior, medications, diet, and more. As these cloud-based algorithms become more powerful, they will be widely deployed for broad exercise and diet programs, as well as for specific conditions and treatment regimens. HCPs will also grow more reliant upon these algorithms to aid in diagnosis and treatment. Launching brands need to consider the ways in which their treatment regimen will be interpreted by these algorithms, and plan accordingly.
9. PERSONAL CLOUD
Most people’s digital lives reflect a degree of overwhelm – which is no surprise given the deluge of digital information that now encompasses everyday life. However, as systems and platforms for content curation and data management mature, individuals and patients will become vastly more efficient and organized with their personal data. The long-sought dream of unified patient records will begin to take shape and become commonplace, with patients able to selectively share their sensitive health information with their caregiver teams.
10. PRIVACY & SECURITY
Hardly a day goes by without another headline about a major retailer or institution being hacked. For healthcare providers of all sizes, the issue of digital security is real and serious. For individual patients, who often pass through healthcare systems with little access or control over their own records – the issues surrounding healthcare privacy can be even more daunting. There are no easy answers in this area. Given this environment, launching brands need to carefully consider how willing their patient populations will be to share sensitive information, in what context, and toward what end. Trust needs to be earned, and then backed up with the proper technical safeguards and procedures.
While many aspects of the future remain unknown, these 10 Digital Trends offer a clear window into a fast-approaching future, that for many teams has already arrived. Navigating this future can be difficult, which is why you may want to consider selecting an agency who can help navigate the changes facing your launch. Launches are exciting, but coordinating efforts internally and externally can be daunting. Consider engaging a commercial partner who will help you recognize and address these 10 Digital Trends in to drive innovation and help secure successful launches, now and in the future!
Please let us know if you’d like to schedule a Launch Transformation workshop for you and your team. We can customize this event to meet your specific needs and timing, and explore in-depth how these 10 trends could impact your brand.