Digital transformation across the pharmaceutical industry is no longer only aspirational as healthcare professionals look for informative, non-promotional scientific content and engagement, but a strategic imperative that was significantly accelerated by Covid-19.
In our earlier white paper in 2020, From Aspiration to Action the Medical Affairs Digital Strategy Council, supported by Indegene, called for action in Medical Affairs to champion the technological changes needed to deliver customer-centric experiences. However, to achieve this, it is necessary to first assess the existing level of digital capabilities and effectiveness across Medical Affairs.
That's why our council commissioned a survey in 2021 among 15 global Medical Affairs organizations to evaluate digital maturity. The survey was inspired by a methodology conducted by DT Consulting (an Indegene Company) in a survey of pharmaceutical company digital and commercial function VPs in 2016 which highlighted the growth in digital capabilities in commercial organizations through increased budgets and ambition but also identified fundamental flaws in organizational readiness for increasing digital maturity.
This white paper, which draws on the 2021 survey results, is the first of its kind to explore digital evolution through the lens of Medical Affairs organizations. 67% of responding companies think that their organization has ambitious digital plans, but only 27% are satisfied with their company's progress. It also reveals that the impact of COVID‑19 has been significant, with 80% stating that it has accelerated digital transformation within Medical Affairs. Members of the Council provide perspectives and guidance on what companies need to do to improve their digital capabilities within Medical Affairs and deliver good customer experience through digital capabilities.
Figure 1: Status of implementing digital capabilities at a global level
The survey results provide a benchmark on the status of digital maturity and a unique insight into the reasons why progress is slower than desired. While the survey reveals a level of frustration that more is not being done faster, it is encouraging to see that across many capabilities there was a clear intention to build capabilities for the future. Qualitative feedback from the Council highlighted that progress is being made and there is increased urgency and support across organizations for digital initiatives. While this is very positive, the Council emphasized the importance of balancing the desire to execute with the importance of ensuring that digital plans are driven by data on what customers want and what ultimately will provide a good customer experience.
I want to thank the members of the Medical Affairs Digital Strategy Council for their participation in completing the survey identifying areas of digital progress within Medical Affairs and providing their insights to understand where challenges remain for the development of digital capabilities and implementing best practices.