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Driving Healthcare Industry Transformation

The Internet of Things (IoT), digital technologies, Internet penetration, and the surge in the use of smartphones with multiple functionalities and access to a countless array of apps have revolutionized global business and our daily lives.

Healthcare has been no exception in this adaptation and adjustment process. Indeed, this disruptive technological boom is helping empower patients battling various chronic conditions by providing them with more information and treatment alternatives and promoting greater interaction with their ecosystem.

Around 60% of adults search online for information about their health.

Have you ever turned to the Internet to learn about the symptoms of a particular illness? Around 60% of adults search online for information about their health and the possible medical causes of their diseases, in some cases to self-diagnose, find a remedy, or even research treatment alternatives. Likewise, 42% use social media to learn more about a given health issue, while online communities that bring patients with the same condition together are increasingly common, serving as forums that allow people to search for information about medicines and illnesses and often end up playing a key role in their disease management decision-making.

Against this constantly evolving backdrop, companies are generally moving beyond mere product promotion. The old model with a heavy emphasis on marketing and sales is giving way to one focused on creating genuine and more empathetic and lasting relationships. Nevertheless, even though interaction via online platforms is crucial for developing direct relationships with patients, family members, caregivers, the medical community, hospitals, and even governments, digital environment adoption is taking longer in the pharmaceutical sector.

“We’re much more wary about taking steps to create more communication and connection with our customers. And we should be; after all, we’re dealing with people’s health and wellness.”

In a report recently published by eyeforpharma, Jess Federer, head of digital development at Bayer, said that “in such a regulated industry, the main focus is safety and effectiveness. We’re much more wary about taking steps to create more communication and connection with our customers. And we should be; after all, we’re dealing with people’s health and wellness.”

BEYOND THE RISKS LIES OPPORTUNITY

Some companies in the healthcare industry have begun to grasp how technology is driving change and the need to involve different actors –including their own legal and compliance departments– to enable their migration from processes (1.0) to tools that enable them to meet the needs of people (2.0), meaning those using social media to share information and experiences.

Beyond the active listening opportunities that social media platforms provide, patient support, education, and adherence initiatives continue to become an integral part of what the most innovative pharmaceutical companies are striving to achieve: comprehensive support and a focus on holistic results that encompasses treatment, care, education, and support. Unsurprisingly, some are beginning to refer to an IoMT – Internet of Medical Things – for delivering added value to patients and those around them, while also allowing medical data to be measured, shared, and analyzed more efficiently and accurately.

Pharmaceutical companies need to regard the customer experience as the top priority in forging relationships with medical professionals and patients. In other areas of their lives, both groups are accustomed to accessing services instantly: they book transportation services, reserve flights, or order restaurant delivery with easy-to-use apps; they clearly expect the same experience in managing their health and do not want to have to wait or deal with intermediaries.

Patients want to share “moments of truth” in their disease journey –the interactions of greatest significance to them–
with all those involved in their care and a broad overview of the problems they face.


Jorge Ramírez, Vice President of Newlink’s specialized Health & Wellness division, says patients want to share “moments of truth” in their disease journey –the interactions of greatest significance to them– with all those involved in their care and a broad overview of the problems they face. In that sense, no matter which channel pharmaceutical companies use to interact with customers the trend is toward patient-focused as opposed to brand-focused models: “Personalized models with value-added capable of convincing the final beneficiary, a medical professional, or a payer of a drug’s value, using patient data to bolster support programs or recruit people with specific characteristics to participate in their clinical trials.”

Ramírez, an executive with more than 20 years of experience in strategic consulting, says the pharmaceutical industry is conservative by nature and that managing change is a significant challenge. His vision and that of his team, therefore, is to work with companies in that sector to transform these models naturally using innovative tools.

“Newlink, through its specialized Health & Wellness division, employs a patient-centric communications strategy based on programs that encompass the marketing and communication areas, market penetration, governments, employees, and, generally speaking, the entire company, so the changes work. The strategy and execution of our integrated programs drive transformation with results,” Ramírez says.

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