Moderator and Panelists:

  • Amy Turnquist, EVP, Digital, eHealthcare Solutions (Moderator)
  • Ryan Billings, U.S. Oncology Digital Marketing & Customer Experience at GSK
  • Desiree Priestley, Director, Patient Support Strategy & Insights at Otsuka America Pharmaceutical
  • Kristen Palmer Winters, Customer Experience (CX), Americas Hub, Digital & Commercial Innovation, Bayer

As a disclaimer, each guest speaker shared their own opinions and knowledge as individuals and do not speak upon the opinions of their companies.

The Pharma Marketing Network’s latest webinar, Video, Voice, and Virtual: Applying New Digital Technology to Enhance Customer Experience, shared unique perspectives from a diverse group of panelists, offering insights into the customer experience during 2020 – a year defined by unexpected challenges. Review the recap below and learn from leading experts about new trends and opportunities that came out of 2020, fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adapting to the “New Normal” – “Evolve or Disappear”

When the COVID-19 pandemic put the U.S. on lockdown in late March of last year, just about every industry was affected. The pharma and healthcare industry were greatly impacted by the (almost) complete elimination of in-person interactions, whether that be between sales reps and physicians or physicians and patients.

When asked about how their companies were able to quickly adapt and pivot to meet the every-changing needs of the customers, the panelists all agreed that they simply “did not have a choice.” Suddenly, there was this realization that if they did not evolve, they would simply disappear. The silver lining: This pandemic, as difficult as it has been, has allowed pharma to recognize its true potential and that it can handle drastic changes and adapt so long as there is a willingness to do so. Prior to COVID-19, pharma tended to only look internally and design for themselves. As Ryan, U.S. Oncology Digital Marketing & Customer Experience at GSK said it, and with agreement from Desiree, Director, Patient Support Strategy & Insights at Otsuka America Pharmaceutical and Kristen, Customer Experience (CX), Americas Hub, Digital & Commercial Innovation, Bayer, “when we designed for ourselves, we really missed the mark.” The pandemic really forced pharma to take a step back and allow the customer to have a seat at the table.

The Quick Transition to Non-Tradition Forms of Healthcare

A trend we have been pacing for a while – which has boomed during the pandemic – is healthcare transitioning to the home through telemedicine and telehealth services. Recently though, Kristen informed us that it has fallen recently because patients, and doctors especially, maybe aren’t quite ready for the full shift. The question is, why has it fallen – why is there hesitancy around making home healthcare more of the norm? That is definitely something to consider when exploring how to make it easier and more commonplace for 1:1 healthcare to be connected virtually.

Looking just at the HCP side, Ryan reminded us that HCPs are people too. Too often, we want to confine them to a professional box and treat them robotically. The truth is their lives were also flipped upside down and they had to instantly change the way they treated their patients. A term Ryan raised was that HCPs are “prosumers,” and it’s important to remember that they think, feel, and act just like the rest of us.

In terms of HCPs and social media behaviors, 2020 saw HCPs really begin to take advantage of social media as a way of providing information to patients. For example, HCPs turned to Facebook Groups to post health information and open a dialogue among patients. Furthermore, activity by HCPs on Twitter increased by 50 percent.

Video – It’s Not as Complicated as it Sounds

Most people consume information through video – both on-demand and with internet, TV and streaming, as well as video on social, primarily mobile. Video can be found anywhere nowadays, such as through stories on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. People are consuming many different types of content via video – they’re using it to consume their news, pop culture, entertainment, etc.

HCPs are no different – they are on social, on the go, and likely have very limited attention spans due to the many distractions they experience every day. One-on-one meetings aren’t quite cutting it for HCPs – they too want that on-demand, or how Desiree named it, that “self-serve content.” The question becomes, how do we present “digestible but snappable” content conveniently available for consumption?

This may seem overwhelming but proposing video does not have to be a start-from-scratch process. Kristen recommends starting with what you already have. In the approvable content you do have, pick out those “snackable bites,” and even leverage your B-roll footage to use as teasers and as traffic drivers. 2020 has taught us that the content we use does not necessarily have to be professionally shot – being more relaxed and conversational may work better and we should be piloting that.

Voice – Siri, Alexa, etc.

Shifting to voice, a technology that somehow still sounds so “futuristic,” but when you think about it, many of us use voice in our everyday lives. Do you speak into your remote when using your TV? Do you use Siri or Bixby on your smart phone when asking about the weather? The reality is that voice technology is beginning to, if not already, become routine. For example, over half of searches are conducted without a screen and though it is already so ingrained in our lives, we really have not taken full advantage of its extensive capabilities, especially where marketers are concerned.

Ryan shares there are two big opportunities with voice for marketers: skills and voice-activated search. When someone conducts a search over voice, it is standard that they receive the top answer pulled from the web. What are audiences hearing back after they have asked a question besides an answer? While that information may certainly be helpful, it is not actionable.

Desiree reminds us of another important point about voice. Just because it is new and has potential, like anything else, does not mean it will be everyone’s preferred way of receiving information about a product or service. However, there is definitely potential there and it is worth investigating how it is performing with patients. Ryan follows up by saying that people search differently through voice than they would though text – pulling data there would be very insightful in determining different patient preferences when it comes to voice and its optimization in the customer experience.

Making Data Actionable in 2021 and Beyond

Like mentioned before, 2020 saw a more intentional emphasis on taking a step back and letting data guide marketers through the rapid changes and uncertainty. Often, though, we pull data just to pull data and then shelve it. What’s the point of that? Instead, how do we make data actionable and meaningful? Those are questions 2020 helped us realize we need to dig deeper into and what will be a big focus this year. The panelists agreed that they are already seeing a shift, from theory to application, of making data actionable.

The two major takeaways on the topic of data were intentionality, meaning what are we collecting, why are we collecting it, and how do we integrate it, and then determining how we make it actionable. Right now, we’re witnessing a change of mindset here and it is exciting.

Capitalizing on the Increased Use of Social Media and Telehealth

Last year, we also recognized that customers want to speak and learn from each other about a manufacturer on social media because it adds a sense of comfort and trust. There is also a real focus being placed on professional influencers and how content can be co-created with them. A lot of HCPs have big followings and have a voice and brand of their own. Leveraging them to present content can help present a brand in an honest, credible, and trustworthy light, which goes a long way with the patient.

On the telemedicine side, there is a great opportunity to engage patients in the virtual waiting room, such as with a poll or video. How can we use telemedicine to actively inform, educate, and engage patients with content and capitalize on it? There are lots of exciting opportunities to explore here.

Tried and True Media Still Driving HCP Engagement

Even during this heightened time of digital transformation, the panelists shared that print is still a very tried and true form of media to drive brand awareness and still performs well. HCPs still use and want journals in their offices, so it’s important to still consider what’s effective, even if it seems outdated.

Email is another tried and true form of traditional media, that has changed, with a large emphasis on making the platform more of a well-thought-out story and executing it strategically, not just sending email after email and hoping something sticks.

During the wrap up, the panelists touched on AR and VR technologies, the virtual conference setting and trends they’re seeing there and finally, their own experiences of trying something that didn’t work out but, resulted in very strong learnings that they were able to incorporate into future strategies. Watch the full webinar here to get in-depth responses from this great group of panelists.