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Automated Modular Content can personalize customer experience at scale​

Why does healthcare need personalized content?

When Amazon pioneered the segment of one, it raised the bar for personalized experiences across industries, including healthcare. In our case, personalized experiences lead to impactful customer interactions, which achieve the industry‘s commercial goals. A critical ingredient in crafting such experiences is personalized content.

DT Consulting, an Indegene company analyzed over 20,000 customer experience (CX) interactions, and found the following.

When a healthcare brand leads in CX, Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) are:

More likely to believe in the brand's products (influence on revenue)
Perceive the brand better (impact on sales & marketing costs)
Engage with the brand more (greater loyalty)

Content personalization elevates your brand's trust, relevance and ease of engagement.

Figure 1: By meeting or exceeding their expectations, HCPs said they will

However, data from Indegene's Healthcare Customer Experience (CX) Playbook (2021) shows that 1 in 3 HCPs are not satisfied with the experience they receive from the 12 channels healthcare enterprises typically use to engage them. The CX Playbook identified personalized, relevant content as one of 12 key moments of truth that make-or-break customer experience.

Figure 2: How satisfied are the HCPs with the typical channels of engagement

Figure 3: 12 Moments of Truth that build an outstanding customer experience

As the commercial model has shifted to rely heavily on digital channels in addition to sales reps, personalized content is even more important as HCPs prefer to engage less often than healthcare marketers would prefer. Unlike in-person channels, digital is more reliant on the willingness of customers to actively engage, thus making content personalization a core strategy used by marketers to achieve results.

An Indegene and DT Consulting survey of 689 HCPs indicated 60-80% of HCPs expect to engage only monthly or quarterly via digital channels compared to <20% who would engage daily or weekly with a sales rep.

Channel of Engagement






Sales rep contact (in-person/remote)*4%10%43%29%14%
MSL (in-person/remote)* 1%17%40%26%16%
In-person event (company sponsored)2%8%20%28%42%
Webinar (company sponsored)0%8%29%42%20%
Company sponsored website2%16%30%33%19%
Email newsletters/branded2%17%41%35%5%
Printed newsletters by direct mail1%9%31%32%27%
Inside sales0%4%38%36%22%

This data is telling because HCPs preference to interact with the in-person sales channel has been falling for years. It is now likely to reduce further by 30% as pointed by Indegene's Healthcare CX Playbook. In such a scenario, deep personalization of content would ensure that every time the HCP interacts with your brand, their experience becomes memorable and exceeds perceived healthcare industry benchmarks.

Figure 4: Channel Interaction trend

Barriers in creating personalized content

Over the last 5-8 years, the industry has dramatically streamlined content operations and improved the efficiency of the content supply chain via centralized production hubs and global-to-local content models. However, the evolution from here to creating more personalized content at scale is constrained by what we call "the 5 Vs" (yes, we added one to big data's 4 Vs!).

1. Volume

The sheer volume of content required for personalization is overwhelming. Indegene as the industry's leading content partner has seen content volume almost double in 2020 fueled by the COVID pandemic and the need to engage customers via digital channels; set to grow by 2-3x over the next 2 years. True personalization at scale would further multiply these volumes and make the current approach to content unsustainable from a cost and operational standpoint.

2. Variety

Consider the content nuances each micro-segment of your audience requires. That alone would mean multiple articulations of the same message or marketing asset. Add to that, the various form factors of the same message required - websites, packaging labels, banner ads, billboards and many more - along with regulatory requirements which make content creation in the healthcare industry so complex.

3. Velocity

Customer's demand for fresh, relevant content is further intensified by changing markets, regulations and new marketing channels. Further, complex Medical Legal Regulatory (MLR) review process creates a bottle neck that leaves healthcare marketers scrambling to publish content in time for personalized engagement. It often forces them to settle on a one-size-fits-all approach.

4. Veracity

According to DT Consulting's (an Indegene company) Customer Experience Quotient (CXQ), trust is one of three core drivers of building a personalized experience. Misinformation about drug efficacy and pricing proliferates faster than verified claims. As regulatory compliance becomes even more stringent around the world, it becomes all the more important to share content that is of high quality and reliable. Content personalization has to be enabled by well-established business rules.

5. Value

Personalized content is only as useful as its consumption. Unfortunately, organizational, data and technology silos severely limit measuring its impact on driving business success. As a result, marketers often create content from scratch and campaigns are asynchronous. Modern, omnichannel experience requires deep data and insights on content consumption and an agile culture to make changes on the go.

Why has modular content not solved these problems yet?

The healthcare industry has worked with various approaches to modular content for years, swapping out different technology tools, re-inventing the wheel over and over again. What is different this time?

Our industry's approach to modular content has been focused on enabling a more efficient way to create and approve content by humans. It is centered around the authoring process which results in linear gains, that ultimately still require "more people" to substantially scale the 5Vs (volume, variety, velocity, veracity and value). The view on modular content as "Lego blocks" that assemble into a final asset, never created a pathway towards full automation (powered by machines, not humans) capable of scaling content personalization exponentially. We call the traditional method the "authoring focused approach" to modular content.

In contrast, automated modular content, as the name implies, is driven by data with machines and artificial intelligence as the primary user during the authoring process. With machines at the center of the content supply chain, automation and exponential scaling of not only creating content but approving content becomes possible and is the guiding principle of what we call "automation focused approach" to modular content.

This shift toward a focus on automation requires a fundamental change in how we approach modular content to meet regulatory requirements. It also requires industry specific technology accelerators to connect powerful, existing platforms like DAMS, approval systems, authoring platforms, CRM, CMS and other MarTech with this automated, modular content approach.

The payoff is not just the ability to exponentially scale up the content supply chain while keeping cost stable, but also improving creative development, customer journey planning, data, analytics, insight, and marketing mix optimization including sales force sizing.

Authoring focused approach (Traditional modular supply chain)

Automation focused approach (Machine powered content supply chain)

Creates smaller modules of contentTransforms unstructured content into computable data
Simplifies and accelerates the manual authoring processUses machines to generate personalized content (machine drafting and machine authoring)
Uses business rules to guide humans in assembling final assets from contentStandardizes and codifies business rules for asset assembly and compliance for machine readability
Approved modules accelerate MLRMachine pre-reviews or auto-approves content
Content effectiveness is difficult to measure. Only possible at the asset level. Deep content dimension remains “dark”Enables deep analytics and insights into content effectiveness at the component level, consistently across all channels

Authoring focused module

Appears to be reusable as a "LEGO block" across assets but:

Not form free (it's actually fully formatted and channel specific)
Incomplete to be used across assets types or geographies (CTA for use in email missing, use of variation of the headline, or different ethnicities of the patient in the photo would require recreating this module for each variation)
Not adaptable to all asset types as organizations of components are fixed
Business rules that guide intra-modular organization and compliance are implicit and not codified


Automation focused module

Breaks down and organizes components in a machine-readable format
Includes fully form-free text and graphics
Manages variations of components without repeating a component
Codifies business rules
Includes channel-specific components and business rules
Includes detailed meta-data at component level

What constitutes modular content?

Figure 5: Here's a visual glossary of what modular content looks like

How do we build intelligent, automation-focused modular content?

It takes a seamless orchestration of operations and technology accelerators. These integrate with existing systems which facilitate reuse and personalization.

It includes the following 8 steps:

1.  A specialized, healthcare focused AI platform (such as the Indegene Intelligent Content Brain) that combines machine vision with natural language processing (NLP) to turn content components into machine readable data. This is more than just tagging, it's fingerprinting content components.

If creative agencies are not ready to create automation focused modules from scratch, this same machine may be used to extract components from existing approved assets such as a core claims document or a master asset document before fingerprinting them.

2.  A module management solution that organizes the components into machine readable modules along with codified business rules and outputs the modules in a format that can be submitted to and approved by MLR.

3.  Integration with a Digital Asset Management Solution (DAMS) that stores approved modules, business rules and the lineage of the components across assets.

4.  A content operations capability that is either machine enabled or fully automated to create final assets from approved modules based on business rules and templates.

a.  Content operations can leverage a debriefing platform to create story board for a new asset from approved modules based on data and content strategy with in the constrains of the applicable business rules.

b.  Centralized content production to produce, test and publish final asset

5.  A machine assisted or fully automated final MLR validation process.

6.  A process for regulatory authority submission of variable content.

7.  Ingestion by platforms that execute the different marketing channels.

8.  A content analytics capability to measure the effectives of deployed asset at component level and share insights for the adaption of existing modules, creation of new variations and modules to continue the loop of content personalization.

Figure 6: How do we build modular content

How does automated modular content transform the commercial ecosystem?

Automated modular content with the ability to automate the content supply chain has wider implications and on the commercial ecosystem well beyond content production itself. It opens up opportunities to transform the entire commercial ecosystem by increasing the volume and quality of customer engagements while radically reducing cost of sales and marketing.

The content supply chain itself can exponentially increase the volume, variety, velocity, veracity and value of content while maintaining the same cost levels as current, highly efficient content factories. At the same time content of this nature enables a higher level of engagement focused analytics and opens avenues for a different approach to creative and customer strategy.

Evolving Analytics and Insight

Currently data, analytics and insight services focus primarily on channel analytics that inform brand strategy along with marketing mix optimization, call planning, sale force size and structures and incentive compensation. The answer to the fundamental question of the optimal number of sales calls per customer has been extended to other channels (how many emails, how many web visits, etc.) and drives important and large budgeting decisions. The content dimension and actual shift of customer behavior to drive sales remains mostly dark. Instead, these channel level analytics express themselves through reach & frequency requirements that determine budgets and resource allocations.

Automated modular content is inherently rich in content component level data that can be traced consistently across channels and it can supplement the current channel analytics to determine not only which channel but what kind of message and what composition of content to express that message would change customer behavior and drives sales. Instead of measuring channel effectiveness, it allows the industry to measure and analyze what kind of engagement is most effective and the best channel to deliver it.

This enables a shift from "how many sales calls and emails per customer to maximize sales" to, "what is the fastest and most efficient combination of channel and specific content variations to maximize sales". Not only does this allow to optimize the cost and allocation of the most expensive marketing channels (in-person engagements) but also focus available resources on the fastest way to change customer behavior and accelerate top line growth.

The capabilities and resources for this level of analytics already exists in most healthcare organizations. Automated modular content would just unlock them by providing the missing data and opening the ability to execute on the resulting strategic and tactical decision. We project that this level of analytics could easily double the effectiveness of current marketing mix optimization approaches, by optimizing investments while growing the top line.

Transforming the Creative Process and Content Strategy

The creative process, designing customer journeys and content strategy today is centered around advertising agencies' ideation process. This involves leveraging experienced and expensive creative minds and strategists, ideating around the brand strategy, inspired by large volumes of primary and secondary research. The output of this process is a set of messages and visuals, judged to be "the best way" to communicate the brand message. This output is then cascaded to regional and local brand teams for translation and localization.

This traditional approach to the creative process is resource intensive and delivers limited, if any, variation of content that cannot effectively address the need of executing relevant content for microsegments of customers.

Automated modular content opens new avenues to transforming the creative process in two ways:

1.  More granular and consistent data on content consumption and customer engagement with content at the component level.

2.  Ability to execute on ideas for new modules or new variation of components within a module that are sources from many places other than just the traditional ideation process.

The richness, consistency and detail of data provided by automated modular content enables a data driven approach to deciding what new content is needed, what content is being used by reps and digital channels and what content is being consumed by customers. Insights from these data can focus the valuable and expensive creative efforts only on the type content where completely new ideas are required.

Deep content analytics combined with traditional data sources for brand strategy and a systematic review of 3rd party and user generated content provide rational and systematic direction for the periodic brand planning process, design of customer journeys, perpetual refinement of segmentation and content strategy at scale. A different type of agency services centered around data driven and customer focused design that is agile and produce outputs at scale will replace the more artisanal and narrowly focused creative process of the present.

At the same time, new ideas for messages, execution of messaging and visuals can be sourced from many places and tested quickly in the real world in an agile manner. Healthcare organizations can essentially "crowd source" new ideas from any place within their marketing organizations and execute on them because they will not be delivered as new materials but rather variations of existing modules or new modules that have proven to make an impact.

Imagine a marketer in a small European market, who has an idea how to more effectively express an efficacy claim in an already approved module through a re-designed graphic. That marketer could quickly add that variation of an approved component to a module, get it approved locally and test it across multiple assets and channels, in-market within days or week.

Dozens or hundreds of those marketers can contribute to the global content pool with proven and tested ideas to enrich the modular content ecosystem with variety and insights that be leverage by any other market as these ideas are systematically added to the modular content ecosystem. Ideas can also come from opportunities to amplify supportive 3rd party content or the need to fight misinformation or counter destructive messages that may circulate around customers.

The content stewardship necessary to manage this process and resulting volumes and variety is only possible if the modular approach to content is automation focused. Classification and linage of all new and modified components along with the business rules that govern how they can be assembled needs to be firmly established and tracked at scale. This along with the management of duplications, expiring and retiring assets and the assurance of compliance and can, at this point, only be achieved with the help of a machine that can read content and the underlying elements and components of that content as data.

We believe that this approach will focus the work of creative agencies to 10-20% of their current scope and budget. The remaining 80% of the work can be accomplished at half (or less) of the current cost while delivering close to a 10x output of fresh, high quality content that is delivered agile on an ongoing basis throughout the year. This drives the ability to execute against audience microsegments in a personalized manner to deliver great customer experience, while limiting the financial burden.

Transformation of commercial ecosystem through intelligent, automation focused modular content

Creative strategy

Quickly iterate updated, high volume, small elements of content originating from many sources
Augment creative strategy with data and insights
Source new content quickly from affiliates, third parties and users
Build a systematic, data-driven content strategy and personalize customer journeys

Content supply chain

Fully automate content factory services
Automate content factory, reduce manual errors
Streamline operations and shift focus toward
Dissolve global to local content waterfall

Content intelligence

Granular content elements as structured data, consistent across channels
Deep insights through connected technology and data services
Actionable recommendations for omnichannel deployment
Evolution from channel analytics to engagement insights
Optimization of marketing mix and sales force deployment

The way forward

Content personalization is no longer a good-to-have. It is an absolute must-have in an experience economy, where benchmarks are set by experiences outside the healthcare industry. Modular content with a focus on automation is the key to achieving this goal. It builds commercial capability to convert content into data and allows for rapid assembly and approval at scale. It delivers deep insights and recommendations to improve content effectiveness and deliver on the promise of content personalization… at scale!

Industry perspective

Elias Khalil, VP, Global Commercial Services, Eli Lilly and Company

What limits the industry from personalizing content today?

The industry perceives regulation as a big hurdle to personalize content. But that is not true. It is just one of many. There are two major challenges to personalizing content.

1. Technology

The industry's content supply chain is highly fragmented. There is no single healthcare and life sciences vertical platform to seamlessly integrate content flow. It takes significant effort to stitch content from multiple disparate DAMS, CRMs, third party websites and owned content platforms. While technology is meant to drive the solution, it is however, stuck at the problem stage.

Content personalization needs very discrete data mining to be effective. A DAMS-approved email campaign works best when it has the physician's detailed context. This ability of the technology to connect all dots is the true north. So, while modular content is the entry point to personalization, it is data and insights on content effectiveness that creates great value.

2. Culture

First, there is substantial inertia to change. This is driven by 2 root causes: the first one is the false assumption that personalization is hard because our industry is heavily regulated. The second root cause is a big bias to status quo which anchors the majority of our touchpoints on personal promotion. 2020 taught us that we did not invest in a plan B and ran our industry without a business continuity plan.

Secondly, traditional marketing leans heavily towards enabling the direct sales channel. But our sales cycles are relatively slower than other industries. As a result, data flows slower too. When our sales cycles are 6-12 months, marketing agility suffers. Technology enables agility, but it creates tension in an organization used to longer sales cycles. Technology is not a problem, reconfiguring established processes is.

Third, is data. In general, the pharmaceutical industry doesn't have a disciplined approach to capturing and organizing data related to millions of interactions with HCPs. This makes it harder for advanced analytics specialists to build robust models that can help orchestrate the right message to the right HCP in the right channel at the right time. However, this is changing rapidly.

Did the emphasis on standardization-driven efficiency kill personalization?

I think yes; the fact that for years, the strategy of a personal promotion play built on the sales representative made it such that we reduced segments and respective messages to a handful. In this context, this is necessary when you are driving mega marketing campaigns without providing intelligent support and surround messaging. Essentially, we reduced the variance as a way to drive consistency, now is the time to shift the mean

"We reduced the variance as a way to drive consistency, now is the time to shift the mean."

How will operations and teams' roles change with modular content? What does it mean for healthcare marketers?

Content personalization demands that strategy and operations team work together. It needs an agile, multi-functional team of sales, strategy, marketing, creative, and operations experts collaborating closely with analytics business partners and MLR teams. Marketers are the orchestrators of this collaboration.

What is the business case for modular content?

The most critical business case for modular content is not the cost efficiencies it brings in, as much as it is important. It is the agility that it introduces - being able to deploy an email campaign when a marketer needs to, placing a banner ad in a form that enhances experience, etc. This ability to continuously run experiments creates optionality for business continuity. That in turn, helps reduce costs. Instead of creating a hundred variants of the same creative, why not test a few content atoms and use data to create five creative versions that truly work? Rather than mobilizing vast creative armies to localize content, why not personalize content using persona insights for each state to create relevant content? Can we create label archetypes for major countries and apply business rules to personalize content modules? That would bring massive efficiencies in global commercial operations. There is too much duplication and regional and central marketing content based off the hypothesis that each market is unique. But are we all unique or just as unique as anyone else? These are, but a few of many ways to justify investment in modular content.

What use cases are possible for modular content?

Aseem Puri, the Chief Marketing Officer of Unilever International spoke (at Indegene Digital Summit 2020) of how he operates a lean marketing team with just 1.5 resources. Healthcare needs to reach a stage where we can launch products with limited infrastructure. Many organizations across industries, today design products inhouse, but outsource manufacturing, promote on social media, sell through online marketplaces, ship using third party logistics and provide customer support through chatbots – all without renting a square-feet of office or staff! While there are genuine safety and compliance reasons for the healthcare industry to continue its operating model, automated modular content takes us a step ahead in leaning commercial operations.

Imagine being able to bulk-approve pre-packaged, interchangeable messages or 60 variants of an email with a single click! It takes 7-8 weeks on an average to create, approve and distribute a marketing asset through our current global to local waterfall approach. Automated modular content could cut that down to 3-4 weeks

What disruptive impact would modular content have on the commercial ecosystem?

COVID was a great testament that when we focus, the healthcare and life sciences industry can move with speed. The speed of medicine development we witnessed during COVID is unprecedented in human history. These lessons will be carried forward post COVID to help speed the cycle of drug development. This will require capital to be freed up, launches will need to be scaled quickly and scientific information will need to be disseminated widely in the most efficient and effective way. The commercial ecosystem enables knowledge building and accurate information sharing to customers. Automated modular content helps us in this mission of fulfilling our purpose to patients, with speed and efficiency.


Marc Valdiviezo
Marc Valdiviezo
Milesh Gogad
Milesh Gogad
Elias Khalil
Elias Khalil
Giuseppe Firenze
Giuseppe Firenze