July 13, 2015/Derek Choy/Decision Support

We began this six-part blog series last week, with the goal of sharing best practices for Decision Support design, application and implementation.  In Part 1 of the Decision Support series, I described the journey we traveled to land on 5 key tenets of Decision Support design and then explained why ‘Less is More’.  As a reminder, the 5 tenets are:

  1. Less is More.
  2. Make it Real.
  3. Keep it Current.
  4. Ownership = Engagement.
  5. Be Easy.

Today, we’ll look at tenets 2 and 3. Make It Real At Aktana, we believe that “Smart Suggestions” are those decisions that the best reps would naturally make themselves if they had all the information available and unlimited time to analyze that information and consider how to respond to it. This means several things (beyond access to information and time).  To begin with, Smart Suggestions would demonstrate knowledge of a rep’s real-life context – his/her specific activities, challenges, market environment, etc.  For example, Smart Suggestions would consider who a rep emailed or visited yesterday or planned to visit tomorrow so they don’t recommend a similar interaction today.  And they should consider geography (likely route and travel time) so that a suggestion to visit an HCP is both intelligent and practical. Smart Suggestions would also consider the full scope of a rep’s decisions, helping to guide trade-offs between competing priorities (products, actions, channels, and messages).  Suggestions that consider only one product or action type risk seeming out of synch with what the rep knows to be most important. The crux of “making it real” is that suggestions must “feel right” to reps.  That may seem obvious, but it’s tough to do well, and it is absolutely critical.  A Decision Support Engine attempts to play a very human role, like a trusted advisor.  The moment suggestions and insights appear off-target or nonsensical, the rep’s trust in the Suggestion Engine will erode.  There are too many technical tools purporting to be helpful.  If yours isn’t, it quickly goes on the discard pile.  But if it delivers, then it just might stay at the rep’s fingertips throughout their day, helping them make consistently better decisions. Keep It Current If there’s one area where reps most appreciate the assistance, it’s in staying on top of information.  The industry is producing information at levels never before seen.  It’s too much for any one person to monitor regularly, but because it’s all out there and accessible, every HCP expects their rep to be up to speed. Unfortunately, rote synthesis and dashboards often miss the mark.  The culling of information must be intelligent to fit a rep’s specific situation, needs, and workflow.  If a rep is engaged in weekly planning, he or she will want information about territory level priorities, and especially which HCPs have increased in importance because of new prescribing behaviors, a formulary win, or a multichannel response.  And if a rep is pre-call planning for an upcoming visit, he or she will most value insights that help determine a topic area relevant to that HCP (e.g. content related to a paper that the HCP downloaded recently or knowledge that a competitor product has just started to gain share with the HCP). Both tenets, “Make it Real” and “Keep it Current”, strive for credibility with the rep.  Because credibility leads to usage and usage creates more efficient, more effective reps.  And I think we can all agree on the appeal of that! Next in the Decision Support series we’ll cover the last two design tenets – “Ownership = Engagement” and “Be Easy” – and begin to talk about specific use cases.