iPharma Connect Conference–The New Commercial Model


The 11th Annual iPharma Connect Conference was held last week in Philadelphia. This year’s theme was “Digital Innovation for Marketing Decision Makers in the Life Sciences Industry”. I will share some notes on the conference and key trends and ideas that might provide you some value as well.

At its core, digital marketing is about making connections.  For Pharma, Bio and Device manufacturers, this is defined by connections with patients, physicians and payers. 

Hot Sessions for 2012 Include:

  • Keynote address by POZEN’s Chief Commercial Officer on the changing pharma commercial model
  • Regulatory update on the implications of FDA’s guidance for mobile medical applications
  • A physician’s perspective on preferred digital channels
  • Case study for online support systems and today’s patients
  • Industry panel on war stories and lessons learned from non-effective digital marketing campaigns
  • Best practices for implementation of multi-channel closed loop marketing capabilities

Keynote Address: The Old Model Just Won’t Cut It — The Revolution of the Traditional Pharma Commercial Model

The Opening Keynote was kicked off with Liz Cermak, EVP and Chief Commercial Officer of Pozen, Inc., formerly WorldWide VP of Johnson & Johnson. The bottom line is the old model won’t cut it. The days of sample drops and focus on call volume are over or should be). We are now in the midst of the revolution of the traditional pharma commercial model. This echo’s what we have been hearing from the majority of our clients. Highlights include:

  • Rep access declining rapidly even when allowed office access, gets harder every day
  • 25 percent of physicians are inaccessible, and growing
  • Sales rep headcount down 26 percent from 2005 peak, today around 75,000
  • Physicians are now embracing digital
  • 9 of 10 feel one access improves quality care
  • 82% of physicians have smartphones
  • 64% own tablets
  • Physicians & Patients are seeking more information online

The patient shift has gone from getting information direct from the physician to participatory medicine and coupling your own information from online and community sources with the physician. This shift will continue as patients become more responsible for their own care. I can affirm this as I had a recent healthcare event (I’m fine now) where my physician directed us to online communities for more detailed information about the condition and even said to just “Google it” one time.

The other major shift is on social. The healthcare industry has been reluctant to embrace it, largely due to regulatory uncertainty. The challenge is, social is happening with or without the industry, so it’s time to jump in. Sidenote: I blogged about the recent FDA Guidance on Social Media, click here. A little more on the social revolution in Healthcare:

  • It’s a Social world whether we like it or not.
  • Social accounts for 1 out of every 6 minutes sent online, and growing rapidly.
  • 61 million people use mobile phones for health info in the US.
  • More than 25 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) are shared each month.
  • There are currently over 133 Million blogs.
  • Over 50 Million tweets per day.
  • YouTube receives more than 2 Billion (with a B) viewers per day.
  • Digital is the audience connector.

Success in this new model requires:

  • Customer centric behavior
  • Consistent messaging and sharing
  • Audience engagement
  • Efficient organization workflow

Addressing the new commercial model, Liz described six tenets of the new commercial model

1. Fish where the fish are. 

  • The new model requires pharma to have customer centric behaviors.

2. Shift personal selling to physician centric selling

  • Expand and use digital sales toolkit.
  • Provide sources and access to digital and mobile medical information
  • Use eDetails and live chat.
  • Shift rep focus to services, right now services are only at 5 percent, must include multi-channel capabilities.

3. Make it relevant to your audience

  • 79 percent of physicians watch video clips on lectures and drug info.
  • Physicians are interested in connecting beyond the office visit, e.g. digitally, 1:1 presentations.
  • Pharma must be perceived as trusted partner along the patient health journey, nearly half of all Americans look up health info online, general health and social are high and growing, be part of those interactions.
  • Gamification is a trend and new behaviors, provides greater chance of improved patient adherence and disease management, makes it more engaging and fun.

4. Facilitate patient and physician connectivity

  • Previously was more about physician to pharma connectivity
  • Current use in digital communication is email, secure messaging, online video conferences
  • Patients are driving the physician relationship shift

5. Social is possible and without fear

  • The train has left the station.
  • Social Health issued by 30 percent of population.
  • Challenge is how to engage and be relevant.
  • Regulation has paralyzed the industry.
  • Must balance risk and benefit.
  • Resulted in >2 Million people screened for COPD, >60 Million impressions.

6. Fully integrated multi channel marketing is now

  • Communicate consistently and beyond the pill.
  • Digital marketing is growing rapidly, 2012 digital spend is forecast at 18.9% of major media spend, which is over $39 Billion.
  • Market research, planning, partnerships, advertising, direct response, CRM, social, mobile, must all be included.
  • E.g. Drive4COPD campaign, used social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Email, Digg, etc.) and traditional marketing (magazine ads, banner ads, direct mail).

    I have to say, in my experience, Liz hit it out of the park with these tenets. The magic if the internet has empowered patients and physicians alike. The technology shift is happening rapidly. My grandmothers next phone will be a smartphone because she wants to “surf the net”. Instant access to information is becoming the norm. Organizations and representatives both must adapt with these changing realities. The new commercial model must do all of the six tenets…and then some.

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    Posted in CRM, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Medical Devices

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