Why digital in pharma is worthwhile investment for 2020?

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The year 2014 saw the launch and evolution of many pharmaceutical companies in the digital realm if not present already. Patient centric engagement philosophy has started taking roots in strategic plans, and will continue to influence major marketing decisions.


The new generation of patients is not based on age. Rather, it is based on those internet savvy individuals who are seeking online management solutions for their healthcare needs. Next to the baby boomer generation that revolutionized healthcare industry, these are the most influential decision makers for healthcare. These are content hungry people who will go online and cross question every statement the doctor makes about their treatment plan. The same critical review will go towards the medicines they will consume. Therefore, pharmaceuticals now need to create engagement not only with doctors or providers, but also with patients on purely ethical basis. Any unethical mischief regarding promotions or marketing will have repercussions, since this generation is well aware of the power of social media.

So what should my digital engagement arsenal have? Every digital engagement plan or strategy requires three main components.

The first is the use of the analytics software, both behavioral and predictive, to study the consumer himself. Pharmaceuticals have found a very helpful tool of edetailing in this regard for their elusive provider customers. Edetailing enables tracking of the providers’ responses, engagement and touch points and feedback on one platform in real time. This has given pharmaceuticals an edge in improving and retaining engagement from their providers through constantly evolving marketing strategies.

Second is the alignment of digital strategy with business objectives and strategy and vice versa. Businesses now need to integrate digital media engagement and tools as a fundamental component of their strategy and not just a marketing gimmick. A poorly constructed digital strategy will lead to more damage to the brand rather than benefit it.

Finally, diligent and thoughtful selection of engagement and communication channel decides how well the engagement will take place. The emergence of multitude of online channels does not necessitate creating engagement on each one. Selecting a handful of channels and creating consistency on those channels will ensure better engagement outcomes.

Although initially the digital engagement strategies were focused on providers only, the emerging digital patient is becoming a game changer in strategic marketing decisions. The changing landscape of healthcare is a powerful driver for the use and implementation of digital technologies in healthcare. The coming year will only feed this trend and pharmaceutical marketers would do well to develop strategies accordingly.