by Barri M. Blauvelt, CEO, Innovara
Upstream strategy used to be the domain of health care marketing. Today, it involves commercial, clinical research, access management, medical affairs, and medical communications. The main aims of upstream strategy are two-fold:
- Gain early insights to inform clinical development and pricing strategy pathways; and
- Shape opinions and attitudes prior to launch, in order to accelerate product adoption once the new treatment is on the market.
Why bring Omnichannel Strategy upstream?
A recent study by Accenture Life Sciences found that 51% of over 8,000 patients from across three generations of Americans, British, French and Germans say, “It is always best to look at new products coming on the market for my condition as they may be better than existing ones.” Furthermore, 28% say that involvement in new product development activities (such as the chance to be in a clinical trial) is one of the top three factors impacting their healthcare treatment decisions.
If upstream participation is key to patients, as these data suggest, then a robust omnichannel strategy is absolutely essential to engaging with such patients. There is no better time to implement omnichannel strategies than during the product’s clinical development phases. This way, companies can gain early insights and shape opinions and attitudes prior to launch, while making the patient’s clinical trial experience feel more seamless. There is no commercial conflict of interest, because a doctor could not prescribe the drug prior to regulatory approval.
Most omnichannel strategies focus on driving penetration in go-to-market stages of the brand’s life cycle, with increasing focus on point-of-care. These companies may miss the big pre-approval opportunity to shape and lead the market.
4 ways to demostrate impact of upstream omnichannel strategy on downstream results
So why do companies wait until a product goes to market to embrace omnichannel strategy? According to SAS, the problem lays with the lack of clear attribution; i.e. being able to measure the impact of upstream omnichannel efforts on downstream results. Companies need to use omnichannel attribution insights to uncover optimal customer purchase paths, best sequencing of contact strategies, ideal frequency between interactions, and more accurate metrics.
How can a company demonstrate impact of omnichannel strategy in upstream market-shaping efforts? Here are four main ways:
Companies and CROs often struggle with clinical trial enrollment. Omnichannel strategy allows for efficient, effective targeting of potential research participants immediately upon diagnosis. Reminders and encouragement executed seamlessly on patients’ favorite platforms will reduce study attrition. Attribution can be measured by speed of patient identification, enrollment, adherence and retention.
Omnichannel strategy allows for non-branded targeting and continuous communication with members of clinical study groups, guidelines committees, and association members. The aim is to shorten the time from regulatory approval to incorporation in updated guidelines. Attribution would measure readiness to improve guidelines as early as Phase 2.
Expand the market
Upstream omnichannel strategy should be aimed at raising awareness of the prevalence of the disease, or lack of early, correct diagnosis. To achieve behavior changes such as earlier diagnosis, or to educate consumers at risk of the disease (and their providers), takes time, reinforcement, and patience – something that most companies have little of, once the product is approved for commercialization.
Finally, payers and insurers also need similar time and education, to be made aware of disease risk and burden in their covered populations. Target population health assessment, economic risk, and quality outcomes are critical to value-based care. Technology assessment and HEOR are essential components of agency evaluations of the value of a new therapy. However, they only begin such analyses once the new product is approved. During the upstream phases, omnichannel strategy can inform and provide insights into new ways to value the burdens of disease, as well as the impact of one’s innovation on reducing those burdens.
Spotlight: Immusant´s Nexvax2
Celiac disease is estimated to affect 1% of Americans and between 0.5–1.0% of most other countries around the globe. It takes 10 years on average for adults with celiac disease to be correctly diagnosed from the time of first consultation for symptoms, and fewer than 20% know they have it. At the present time, there is no drug to treat celiac disease.
ImmusanT’s therapeutic vaccine for celiac disease, Nexvax2, is currently in Phase 2 trials. When Nexvax2 was in Phase 1, the company collaborated with celiac advocacy groups to get providers and consumers alike to be evaluated for celiac disease sooner. This will serve to increase and grow the market so that by the time the vaccine may be approved, the approachable market will be much closer to the 3 million Americans estimated to have the disease. Upstream strategy also provides ImmusanT with opportunities to test alternative value-based propositions in key markets around the globe.
Image Credit: Freepik