The plans are being set by many pharma companies about what comes after the pandemic. In what sense can this upcoming “new not-normal” affect the way many know the pharma industry? What will be the main changes that pharma companies have to adapt to? The pharma landscape as we knew it has changed. Dive on in to learn more about this new normal.
A walk toward a new pharma landscape
For many pharma and medical marketers, there was a consensus on the pandemic: the pharma landscape has changed. COVID introduced them to good and bad possibilities. The good news? The fact that a public health crisis helped them prepare and face new challenges in healthcare.
But what about the bad news? The fact that this crisis shook the health industry. The fact that this was not an industry known for quick adaptation led to some complications and crises along the way.
There are many contributing elements to this change, which has already started affecting Pfizer. Recently, the pharma company announced that it would reduce its US sales force. All due to an expectation “that healthcare providers will want fewer face-to-face interactions with reps even after the pandemic ends,” according to MM+M in a detailed article that showed the perspective of many industry leaders on the shift taking place.
This same source goes even deeper into the fact that pharma will become more and more digital. Some of the main topics that marked the beginning of this switch for the past two years of the pandemic were:
- The changing role of pharma’s sales reps;
- The increasing consumerization and personalization of health;
- The breaking down of silos to be more agile;
- The development of new technologies to help speed up all the previous factors.
The lasting effect of COVID on pharma interactions
There’s a tendency for many interactions between sales reps and physicians to become more digital. The sales rep’s role today is quite different from two years ago. Now, like physicians, they need to have good knowledge of many healthcare topics. Not to mention that they need digital tools to provide a personalized experience to their contacts.
Patients are also becoming more and more demanding of their digital experiences. They are looking for more connected experiences and services. For healthcare providers, this will increase their demands for access to real-time tools and support.
In turn, this pushes the role of the reps to a whole new level. In fact, no longer are they the main orchestrators of the entire funnel of relationship management. More than passing and selling a message, they have to provide an experience to their stakeholders.
Right now, remote interactions have increased in popularity and preference for many HCPs. Yet it involves more than a remote, hybrid, or in-person interaction. It involves a deeper understanding of the needs and behaviors of the people you’re communicating with.
Omnichannel pharma is here to stay
Of course, for many professionals who saw this coming, everything points to the concept of omnichannel in pharma. Now it stopped being a mere buzzword and became the unfolding reality for the industry. Even in a post-pandemic world, this is the remaining “scar” that will shape pharma from now onwards.
There are three main reasons why this happened, though:
- Thanks to the pandemic the world went through, pharma could no longer operate the way it used to. Many pharma companies are still having difficulties when it comes to old habits, but the new panorama will force the change;
- New expectations from consumers need pharma companies to be more agile. Hence why elements such as targeted messaging, effective follow-up, and sustained conversations were essential to making this agility possible;
- It would only be a matter of time for technology users around marketing for a couple of years to start approaching pharma. Elements such as Web 3.0, AI-powered chatbots, blockchain and augmented and virtual reality are gaining many healthcare marketers’ attention.
Interactions in pharma have changed. Generally speaking, this means there’s a higher demand for quality content from healthcare professionals and patients alike.
Faster and easier: This is the new way for pharma
The increased use of e-commerce influenced the marketing of healthcare products and services to meet their standards. In fact, it’s a golden opportunity for pharma to start listening to what their customers want as a way to start a dialogue. According to Marcos Mendell, EVP for health platform innovation at Real Chemistry, “the way that we’re restructuring content is to create interest and a dialogue.”
Telehealth’s future role may still be a little blurry in many countries, but it influenced the personalization need felt by many pharma companies right now. Some companies allow their patients to contact a doctor with the mere push of a button.
Without a doubt, many customer-centric models of interaction will, in no time, become the norm and not the exception. As the president of McCann Health Engagement, Jeffrey Erb puts it, “Brands that interact with people, versus patients, will find those efforts rewarded.”
An upcoming constraint is the matter of privacy and the appropriate use of online behavioral data. In addition, there are more state-specific privacy regulations and industry standards rising to assure data protection. In essence, many companies will have to stop relying on third-party data for them to understand, target, and personalize their content for patients and HCPs.
Pharma, as many knew it, has changed. Though there is a minority that wishes to go back to “the good old days,” the majority of people are facing the present: the pharma landscape has changed and things will never be the same again.