It would be hard to overstate the importance and contribution of the life sciences industry to the innovation landscape these last few years. Let’s just recall a few -
Hepatitis C, once a dire diagnosis, is an all but curable condition
Former patients are now being completely cured of HIV
Immuno-oncology and CAR-T therapies continue to exponentially advance the treatment and life expectancy of cancer patients
And finally, let’s not forget the Covid-19 vaccines that continue to save millions of lives and help treat, not only medical, but psychological and societal ills as well
Simply put, life sciences are probably the most innovative industry in the world, despite its unique challenges. In fact, the top of Forbes’ recent ranking of The World’s Most Innovative Companies includes several life sciences brands, and the latest BCG report of Most Innovative Companies of 2021 includes 10 Life science companies in its top 50.
But that innovation seems to stop at the bench. It doesn’t have to.
At the other end of life sciences value chain – the commercial side of the equation – innovation in the industry has not been nearly as transformational. Many of our commercialization practices are indicative of a thought process that needs to respond to a world greatly transformed by technology advances and global events. While they are evolving, they are still indicative of a time, place, and market environment that was dramatically different from today’s attention-challenged, information-saturated, and digitally native world.
Perhaps it’s time to take a cue from the opposite end of the value chain and apply a parallel set of innovation themes to power a new, digitally enabled era of commercialization and communication. The parallels are easily translatable -
Respond to a market need with agility. While the current environment has accelerated this evolution, it’s time to recognize, get onboard and make this new hybrid model systematic. This truly omnichannel approach leverages the potent alchemy of the field rep, the virtual sales professional, and the platform-driven digital capability.
Meet outcome endpoints. Omnichannel, not multichannel marketing, will drive results. Data-driven campaigns enabled by AI and ML are pointing to precisely where, when and with what content life sciences brands needs to be communicating.
Follow the data to optimize outcomes. Commercial results and impact are the most important indicator of this approach. Much as technology is driving the proactive side of the marketing equation, data and analytics need to be leading the reactive side, answering questions like how do we matriculate a target up the digital affinity scale? What content and from whom is more impactful? How should we adjust our spend in real time?
Extending the innovation mindset to market demands making the most of what works and augmenting it with what’s needed for changing times. As the conventional field rep sales model is rendered suboptimal, life sciences brands need to augment it with a disruptive digital rep equivalence model.
Digital rep equivalence leverages data and analytics to deliver the same impact of a field rep through a digital-first omnichannel marketing. It analyzes interaction data of millions of HCPs to deliver the same impact as a field rep, while enhancing customer experience at a fraction of the cost.
An effective digital rep equivalency model is reliant on the core tenets of understanding customers’ digital and prescription behavior at the individual level, aligning those behaviors to an omnichannel (not multichannel) strategic plan that maximizes the best of field force and digital capabilities and, finally, is deployed and optimized at frequent and consistent intervals.
Innovation isn’t easy – with it come countless challenges and inevitable failures. But when the innovation journey produces concepts and products capable of transforming a market landscape, it’s worth celebrating and replicating. Taking the lead from the research-end of the life sciences value chain, the time has come to realize the promise of omnichannel marketing. When these innovations flow seamlessly, they serve to simplify the execution and elevate the impact of our communications and relationships with customers.