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It’s Time to Rethink Drug and Device Launch

Marketers Must Respond to How Physicians Are Reshaping the Product Launch Landscape 

A fundamental shift in how physicians learn about and evaluate new drugs and devices is reshaping the landscape of life science marketing. How can launch teams address this shift? By building living brand systems.

Living brand systems adapt, engage and evolve as physicians progress along the path to adopting a new therapy or re-evaluating an existing one. Living brands accelerate adoption by becoming more relevant to the day to day realities of how physicians learn about, evaluate, try, deploy and re-examine therapies in their practice.

Contextualisation and Participation are Game Changers

Physicians’ shift to omni-channel learning has been gathering momentum for some time. Pharma and medical device launch teams have responded by making troves of product information available across both analog and digital formats and channels. But they’ve not succeeded in making the information relevant – a 2017 study of 2,784 physicians by Manhattan Research reported that only 27% of physicians consideredpharma websites asa credible source of professional information.

Contextualisation and participation are reversing the relevance dynamic and enabling life science marketers to accelerate physicians’ path to adoption.

Contextualisation combines recognising the needs, profile and preferences of the user with delivering content and experiences tailored to their specific situation. New data sets and pattern recognition technologies are growing so quickly in healthcare that physicians’ learning goals, preferred learning modes (do they prefer graphs, case examples etc.), evaluation criteria and position on the path to adoption can be understood and acted upon.

One major trend in contextualisation is the emergence of digital Decision Support Systems (DSS).  National Decision Support Company’s CareSelectTM platform is an example. CareSelectTM integrates patient record information, physician goals and evaluation criteria with certified care standards to assist selection of diagnostic imaging and laboratory tests. DSS providers are racing to develop systems to support other procedural decisions including surgery and drug prescription.

Another major contextualisation trend is the use of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), both as a vehicle for context based messages and as an information source for contextualising content delivered in other channels.

  1. EMR as messaging vehicle.In a controlled study among type 2 diabetes patients, Eli Lilly found that the patient test group whose physicians received branded messages via the EMR (based on the patient’s current medications and A1C levels) were more likely to fill a new prescription and less likely to drop off at the first refill.
  2. EMR as data source.IBM Watson Health is providingtools such as Truven’s treatment pathwaysthat use its MarketScan claims, hospital and EMR database. It can be deployed to analyse the impact of marketing investments and initiatives and improve launch strategies and content delivery.

Participation technologies engage physicians in learning experiences and shares information generated by the participation of other physicians and thought leaders. Participation spans the gamut from peer-to-peer physician social exchanges to gamification of physician education, to large scaledigitisation of learning experiences.

SERMO, a global network of more than 550,000 physicians, recently introduced Pages – a forum for life-science companies to interact socially with physicians by discussing their brands, sharing newsworthy information, trying out marketing messages, listing educational opportunities and soliciting physician participation in clinical trials. Medscape has taken its mission of physician education seriously through gamification. Its weekly Fast Five Quiz makes digital learning a little more fun and a lot more convenient. In February 2017, Novartis announced the expansion of Vivinda TV, a virtual medical conference platform to help expand physician access to efficacy and safety information about its brands.

Using Living Brand Systems to Harness Contextualisation and Participation

Living brand systems adapt, engage and evolve. They adapt by harnessing big data and analytical tools to understand the immediate physician context and deliver the right content at the right time through the right vehicle to address that context. They engage by creating new touch points and creatively using existing touch points to interest and motivate physicians to participate and interact in sustainable ways. And living brands learn and evolve over time by putting in place the metrics and processes to test and learn their way to improving on an ongoing basis. Living Brand Systems in Life Sciences are made of four principal elements.

  1. A map of the current physician adoption path
  2. A purpose-driven positioning that can evolve over time
  3. A strategy to shape the physician adoption path into an adaptive and engaging journey
  4. An operational plan supplemented by the capabilities and metrics to execute effectively
  1. Map of the Physician Adoption Path (PAP)

The path a physician takes to gather information, evaluate, test, deploy and re-examine treatments is now so filled with content, touchpoints and potential new opportunities that it has become crucial for launch teams to have an in-depth understanding of this journey. The PAP uncovers where contextualisation and participation can be unleashed and reveals the highest potential areas for innovation in content, touchpoints and experiences.

At Prophet, we’ve created a digital tool to map the physician path to adoption. It is like a patient journey map,but puts the physician at the centre of the experience and focuses on the inputs, influencers and touch points at each step toward adoption. It can evolve into a real-time tool to chart physicians’ paths at the occur.

  1. A Purpose-Driven Positioning

A clear brand purpose is essential in a living brand system because it acts as a red thread that ties the different brand adaptations and engagement experiences together in a meaningful way. The brand positioning must clarify the role the brand plays in patients’ lives in a way that physicians can believe in and recommend. But the brand role must not be static. The positioning should be built so that the brand can evolve over time as it extends to more patients, physicians and conditions and as it responds to competitive and ecosystem changes.

  1. Strategy to Shape the Physician Adoption Path

A strategy to shape the PAP into an adaptive and engaging physician journey starts by identifying the touchpoints in the current path to adoption that are most important to physicians’ decision-making and most susceptible to innovation by a life science company. Prioritisation includes uncovering gaps in the current path where current touchpoints do not address physicians’ context or needs.

Shaping the PAP is largely an innovation process where the launch team must determine how to innovate within current touchpoints as well as create new touchpoints. The goal is to find an opening within the path to adoption for a signature physician experiences of the new brand. Signature experiences accelerate progress toward the goal of adoption and build brand loyalty.  Testing, business case creation and experience blueprinting must be part of this innovation process.

  1. Operational plan, capabilities and metrics

An operational plan starts by building a data strategy and tools to understand context and serve up appropriate content within each touchpoint. The operation plan also frequently requires building new capabilities, establishing new partnerships with other healthcare providers and hiring agencies to support delivering new experience.

At Prophet we build capabilities in four dimensions:

  • People – using training and hiring to build the competencies of the delivery and analytics team.
  • Processes -establishing the macro and micro processes to undertake the work, test and improve.
  • Tools – providing the required tools including databases, partnerships, analytical software etc.
  • Organisation -embedding the structures, leaders, teaming and governance to drive progress.

The final element of the operational plan puts in place a system of measurement, analysis, review and revision to monitor results and reshape strategies and plans accordingly.

The Living Brand Imperative

The landscape for launch has changed. Physicians no longer have the time or the willingness to be at the receiving end of an information tsunami pushed by pharma and device companies as they launch new products. Advances in digital marketing have made building living brand systemsa viable route to provide physicians what’s relevant to them and in doing so accelerate their path to adoption. It’s up to life science marketers to seize this opportunity or run the risk that their new launches will be misunderstood and potentially ignored by physicians whose modes of learning have shifted.

To learn more about how Prophet develops living brand systems in the life sciences, click here.

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