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Customer Experience and Design

McKinsey Discusses Impact Of Healthcare Changes On Pharma


In a recent blog post, I mentioned the three critical themes for success in the digital age, as identified by McKinsey & Company through interviews with 20 pharma executives: 

  1. Dramatic changes in the traditional roles and dynamics of healthcare stakeholders have fundamental implications for pharma companies.
  2. It is time to reimagine them as solutions companies, not asset companies.
  3. The technology is ready, but pharma companies must change if they are going to enable and harness it more successfully.

Let’s take a look at the first theme more closely: the impact that changes in healthcare are having on pharma.

Now that healthcare consumers are more informed, connected, actively involved, and self-directed in their interactions with providers, payors, and pharma companies, consumer behavior is changing in new and unfamiliar ways:

“Individuals are starting to control their own health treatments.”  The implication here is that pharma companies need to recognize the new decision-making power that patients have and figure out effective ways to engage with them. The challenge is that it’s tough for pharma companies to know exactly who their patients are, and it’s even harder to identify exactly what kind of engagement will resonate with them. The key is to get to know your consumers and then design points of engagement (e.g., apps) that focus on meeting patient and/or provider needs. A common mistake is to create patient-facing apps that address a business need, rather than a patient need, which leads to poor user adoption. Consumer needs simply must come first.

The clinical environment will change fundamentally.” The more complex and connected the healthcare environment becomes, the more complex and connected the relationship between patient and physician becomes. Physicians are already having to consume and analyze massive amounts of health data about patients, and that’s only going to increase as more and more digital devices are created to record and transmit health data (e.g., wearable health trackers, medication with embedded chips). Physicians need tools to help them navigate and manage this new paradigm.

“Patients’ brand loyalty dwindles as cost consciousness rises.” As consumers gain access to more information, including service providers, products, and pricing, the less loyal they become to any one particular company or brand. It might seem like healthcare would be immune to that trend, but it’s not. Patients change health insurance companies and prescription brands far more often than they used to, whether it’s because they change jobs or because their employer adopts a new plan or because individual plans are now more affordable and accessible. Even patients’ methods of choosing the drugs they take are expected to change dramatically, considering the type and quantity of health data that’s now available to the average person, as well as the way digital devices impact human behavior.

Pharma companies will lose exclusive control over their value stories.” In the past, clinical trial data served as the sole source of information about the safety and efficacy of drugs, and that data was controlled by the pharma company who owned the drug. Today, vast amounts of data from a variety of sources is available to patients, providers, and payors, and they’re all using it in bold new ways (e.g., payors are using it to exclude drugs from their formularies or to promote proactive interventions to avoid needing a drug at all). The result is that pharma companies can no longer just inform; they need to listen to what everyone else is saying (i.e., “social listening”) and be prepared to rapidly adjust their message, image, or even pricing structure accordingly. What’s more, they need to be prepared to share and collaborate – even become transparent – or risk losing their trustworthiness all together.

All of these shifts in healthcare have significant (and uncomfortable!) implications for pharma. Transparency is so scary! But, the age of connectedness demands it. So, the challenge becomes figuring out how to connect and communicate without putting your intellectual property at risk.

Where do you begin? Get to your know your customers (patients, physicians, payors, etc.): their values, their problems, their needs, their wants, when and how they prefer to interact with you, and so on. Then, create points of engagement with them that are easy, useful, and meaningful…to THEM (no solving your own business problems with a fun little customer-facing app). Once you know your customers, you’ll know exactly what you need to share to cultivate their trust and loyalty.

For more guidance on getting to know your customers, check out these webinars from our on-demand library:

Or, just contact us.

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Marin Richeson

Marin joined the life sciences industry in 2001. Over the course of her tenure, she has held roles in clinical finance, IT, quality assurance, and validation. The diversity of her experience provides her with a unique perspective on the interconnectedness of this complex, multi-faceted industry. Marin Richeson is a lead business consultant in Perficient's life sciences practice.

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