As of late, there have been numerous articles, studies, papers and opinions circulating on the future of pharmaceutical operations as it relates to digital. Based on many of these sources and coupled with personal direct experience nationally and globally in digital pharma, I have prepared a three-part piece on Mapping the Future of Digital Pharma.

Together, they address the strategic imperatives and digital action plans for pharmaceutical organizations to realize greater patient engagement, better cost of care, reduction in physician burdens, demonstrate outcome-based compliance and greater financial return on investment.

This first part focuses on the state of digital pharma today, the second, the express goals of digital in pharma and the third, how pharma should actually deploy digital.

The State of Digital Pharma

For over a decade now, pharmaceutical companies have seen the need to embrace digital within overall operations but despite this massively rising awareness, only minimal action has been taken to harness true digital value for health brands.

This series of posting is not dedicated to the why around inaction but rather, to set out clear action sets that should be taken by a pharmaceutical organization to again embrace digital, to realize greater patient engagement, better cost of care, reduction in physician burdens, demonstrate outcome-based compliance and deliver greater financial return on investment.

Not to deflect from the efforts of numerous other firms but, despite the countless whitepapers and articles nudging pharma to act, succinct action plans remain absent. That said, the positive outcome from their significant investments has ensured that pharma leaders have confidence when assessing overall market themes such as:

  • Social networks and online assets gives patients and caregivers access to information and each other (PEW)
  • The majority of patients (and their care partners) diagnosed with a medical condition go online first for information, community and pathways of care (PEW, Forbes)
  • Pharma must capture data and use analytics to increase pipeline and value (PWC, McKinsey)
  • The primary role of online is to enable and augment direct patient to physician engagement (spanning from psycho-social through medical support) leading to increased compliance motivation and outcomes (Forbes, PEW)
  • The market is shifting to outcome-based pricing (PWC, McKinsey)
  • Pharma must demonstrate that their brands add value to patients (PWC, PEW, Forbes, McKinsey)
  • Non-adherence is expected to grow as populations age and as chronic condition prevalence increases (NEJM, PEW)

Key theme: Pharma must change (and embrace digital) to stay relevant, demand premium positioning and serve patients optimally in today’s digital world.

Through all sources, three key conclusions are resonant:

  1. Pharma must stop overt and traditional aggressive marketing focusing only on the product
  2. Pharma must become knowledge-based organizations
  3. Pharma must focus on developing marketing and sales functions that are fit for the future that demonstrate patient engagement and drive greater compliance

Pharma MUST accept that value does NOT come from its products. Value comes from empowering overall patient quality of life – this is the major factor in the buying and selling of medicine. (Medscape, PEW, NEJM, PWC, McKinsey)

Up next part 2: The goals of digital pharma