Move From a Field Force to Hyper-Specialized Partners for HCP’s

Session topics

  • Assess a new hybrid sales and marketing model combining sales reps with data-driven support throughout the customer journey
  • Prioritize inbound marketing through digital marketing campaigns to replenish reps’ sales funnels throughout the year
  • Revamp how you engage with practitioners and patients through less frequent, higher quality communications

Watch Aktana and BMS Present at Pharma USA 2021

 
webinar transcript

Moderator

Hi everyone and welcome back. A very quick turnaround there, but as you can see now we are joined by our next panel. And kicking off the next module, How to Modernize Your Field Teams and Become Healthcare Partners, I’m going to hand over to Cari Kraft who is the CEO of Jacobs Management Group, to kick off this panel, on Move From the Field Force to a Hyper-Specialized Partners HCPs. Cari, why don’t you tell the audience a little bit about yourself and get things underway.

Moderator

Sure, thank you James. I’m Cari Kraft and I do a few things. I lead Jacobs Management Group, which is an executive search company. I publish a magazine called Healthcare Sales and Marketing Magazine, which is how I got here. And then I also am part of an executive network called Experts OnTap, which focuses specifically on life sciences. And I am pleased and honored to be here with my esteemed panelists and why don’t we start off with some introductions. Yvette, do you want to kick us off?

Yvette Leung

Sure. Hi, everyone. I’m Yvette Leung. I’m from Bristol Myers Squibb. I’m currently the Associate Director of U.S. Myeloid Marketing working on multiple product launches in hematology. Prior to that, was at Celgene and prior to that was in strategy consulting, so really excited to join everyone today.

Moderator

Thank you. And Matthew?

Matthew van Wingerden

Hi, Matthew van Wingerden. I head up product strategy and product management at Aktana, which is a tech company focused on omnichannel, next best action for the pharma industry. Pleased to be here as well.

Moderator

All right, and John?

John Lineen

Hey, everyone, John Lineen with Bristol Myers Squibb and just the typical disclaimer, these views today are my own and not necessarily those of my company. At Bristol Myers I’m the Engagement Lead across cardiovascular and immunology teams, so working on a lot of HCP digital and non-personal work. And prior to this, spent five years at GSK in a global role, rolling out GSK Pro. And prior to that, 12 years at Digitas Health, so real excited to be on the panel today.

Moderator

All right, well we are here to talk about the evolving and new hybrid sales and marketing models and how we make it all work. So let’s kick it off with just the first question for the panel. How have HCP expectations shifted over the last year and how is commercial pharma evolving to meet them? So who wants to be our lead off?

Matthew van Wingerden

Sure. Well, I’m happy to kind of kick us off here. From my perspective, what we’ve seen of our customers is just the practical reality that when we don’t have the ability to casually walk into somebody’s office and say, “Hey, how are you doing? What problems are you dealing with today?”, it puts a lot more of the onus on us in the pharma industry to actually know what our HCP customers need from us before we walk in the door, because if we’re sending an email we don’t have the ability to have that back and forth conversation. If we’re setting up a time for a virtual engagement, we have to know what that means, what they need from us. So we’ve seen a few things evolve just some mining of data that we have, some of these things are pretty obvious like if you know that access is a big barrier for prescribing your drug, making sure you get that specialty pharmacy data in and making sure you know how many patients are hung up on getting reimbursement or prior authorizations pushed through.

But also elaborate things about understanding what’s on the mind of our HCPs so that we’re actually, as I said, walking in the door, quote unquote virtual door, knowing what they need to hear rather than us asking them in the conversation.

Yvette Leung

Yeah, I think the curation of content is so critical and making sure that we’re streamlining that for them in an environment, particularly during COVID, that’s really caused them to be inundated really with emails and all these different digital forms of information. It’s really hard to convey some of that information and some of that data through these digital channels, so how do we really, again, streamline that and really curate to what they immediately need, to Matt’s point.

Moderator

John, did you have anything to add in?

John Lineen

Yeah, I would say the COVID and the pandemic has accelerated our need to prioritize what services and support we can provide to our customers, whether that be healthcare professionals, nurses, the office staff. Really changing our mindset into how we can help them, how we can help them save time, how we can help them work better with their patients and our products, and educate their patients. So it’s a unique opportunity for us that have been in the digital space for a long time to really change and focus on the customer needs and make sure we truly understand those needs during this crazy pandemic.

Moderator

And how have you made the HCP interaction better? How have you been able to personalize the customer experience? How have you been able to scale that? What have you been doing along those lines?

Matthew van Wingerden

Just to round out the robin here, so to speak, happy to jump in again. I think there’s two parts for me in this, one is information sharing. So there’s a critical point that I think gets overlooked a little bit, people like to lament about the silos in marketing and sales in the pharma industry, but I think it’s really important to recognize why those silos exist and why some operations, why some commercial operations need to be loosely coupled, not tightly coupled. So the way that we manage content on a website and the way that our HCP customers engage with that is completely different than the way we manage a rep visit or a rep virtual interaction and we need to respect that and need to let those teams kind of operate separately. However, there is no reason why those separate teams shouldn’t have full visibility into what’s happening in the other channels.

So for me, that’s kind of step one, make sure that every rep in the field knows all the different headquarters interactions that are happening and every person who’s managing a portal or managing a campaign blast knows all of the different field interactions, whatever. Everybody just has visibility into each piece, that’s kind of step one. I think there’s a step two which we’re starting to see our customers experiment with a little bit more, which is trying to give little bits of control back and forth, but there’s a lot that needs to be figured out there. I think for right now, the way I’m seeing it develop with customers is at least some more feedback and really you see this with the field teams where if there’s a lot of headquarters activity that’s going on, maybe we have a more streamlined way of gathering feedback from the field, maybe they don’t control the headquarters’s activity. Again, it needs to be loosely coupled, we need to let the headquarters’s team run independently, but we can get some of the insights from the team. That’s the second step.

Moderator

John, I saw you nodding your head.

John Lineen

Yeah, definitely at the feedback comment. I think if you look at other industries and you look at the growth in voice of customer technologies and solutions, if you look at a lot of companies trying to do more user-centric designs, incorporate more user research into their work. We spend a lot of money within pharma on non-personal, and digital programs, and even virtual rep engagement programs. We probably need to test with our customers a bit more, what’s of highest value, what’s going to deliver the most impact, and getting that customer feedback, as Matt said, I think is so critical and we could probably do much more of it across any pharma company.

Yvette Leung

Yeah, and for me, I think it comes down to two things. One is really arming the entire team with better data. And so that’s data from a script standpoint, or from claims data, what can we draw, what are those insights that we can draw from those, but also, what is the data on, what’s the engagement been across these different channels that both Matt and John have talked about. And then the second piece of it is really around content. How do we really allow the content to really be able to shine through the noise? Right? Especially again, in this environment it’s so critical to be able to make sure that the content is not only getting to those HCPs, but they’re actually engaging with it, they’re reading through it, and they’re actually being educated actively through that process.

Moderator

Yeah, interesting. And John, you mentioned other industries. What can we learn from other industries in terms of delivering content and more thoughtful planning in content?

John Lineen

Yeah, so about four years ago, in my previous role, I had a great opportunity to be part of the Forester Customer Experience Council and actually went to a few meetings in London and New York, and listened to companies outside of pharma really putting a lot of investment into voice of customer research, into customer journey analytics, into trying to understand the feedback from their customer. Just think about your Marriott hotel experience or Hyatt, they survey you after you check-in, after you’re done with your visit, before and after, and throughout that journey, and they’re collecting that data and using that to inform future promotions, enhancements.

So I think we’re a ways from that, from really understanding across that journey what’s going on, what’s the data, what do people value and like, but there are some teams, and tools, and groups looking at investing more in those areas. So really just hearing what non-pharma companies are doing gives some inspiration, I guess, on how we can crack the code in pharma, doing it within medical, legal review process, but really there are opportunities to learn more from the customer over these channels.

Moderator

Anybody else have anything to add on that topic? Go ahead, Matthew.

Matthew van Wingerden

I always like blending kind of the mass market approach, John that you’re referring to, with the more personalized approach. In the general tech industry, if you’re not focused on pharma, if you’re just focused on consumer apps, the standard test is you hand somebody a phone with your app running and you don’t tell them what it’s for, you don’t tell them how to use it, and you just see if they can make sense of it. And I feel like we actually have the opportunity to do that with our HCP customers. Since we have to many interactions with them, we’re not there when they’re opening emails, but maybe with some of the other content that they have like the CLM slide that we’re using in a face to face visit, just see if the information makes sense to them and try and gather in detail what their feedback is and what confusion that they have.

Maybe we need to structure it a little bit more, but I think if we can blend that close person, one-by-one research with sort of the overall picture that we’re getting from the broader data that the Marriotts are collecting, I think we’ll really get a complete understanding.

Moderator

So with so much information out there and so many touchpoints, what steps do brands need to take to make sure engagement across all the channels is coordinated and relevant?

Yvette Leung

I think from a marketing and brand standpoint, I think it comes to three things really. It’s thinking through what is the collaboration model that we have in place across all of our field teams, right? So Matt talked about earlier really having visibility, right? From a rep, to knowing MSL, to knowing different parts of the field teams, and what’s going on, and what are the interactions taking place. And then two, it’s around thinking through are we giving and arming the teams with the right analytical tools, right? That could be analytics, it could be digital and visibility into the digital channels and the campaigns that are being run, but really again, like an omnichannel, full spectrum kind of knowledge sharing that’s happening. And then three, it’s really around clear roles and responsibilities. We recognize that in pharma we’re hyper-regulated relative to other industries and as much as we want to bring forward best practices from other industries, we do have guardrails in place that prevent us from doing probably the same types of things in every aspect.

So working within those compliance and regulatory bounds, what are the clear roles and responsibilities that allow our teams to really do the appropriate handoffs to the right people within the company and externally so that those conversations continue to happen, right? There’s multiple, and continuing, and enhanced touchpoints around the information that’s being provided.

Moderator

John, you’re nodding your head.

John Lineen

Yeah, I mean, this is our role, so our role has changed, but engagement planning and content capabilities is the structure of our team. So better planning, which means focusing on the persona, the customer insight, the journey, so making sure we’re… We don’t need to build websites that are 20 pages anymore, it’s a mobile world. Our customers are very savvy using the technology now, that’s not an issue. So it’s about how do we connect the experiences from the sales rep goes in, there could be a follow-up field trigger, there could be a home office email, how do we understand and build those journeys to support our customers. Yeah, I think Yvette hit on a lot of the data points as well from a media standpoint, from a… We have endless amounts of data on our customers, but really getting back to the core insights and the core pieces of services and support that we can provide to them will go a long way.

I think every planner has to mention analytics, so using the data, the insight on what we put in market and not put it out there once as a launch and then forget it, but really optimize over time and try and build out a learning agenda so we’re constantly learning about what’s in market and what feedback the customer has using the digital analytics. So it’s kind of a long answer, but there’s a lot of components to planning this correctly.

Moderator

Matthew?

Matthew van Wingerden

I think just to riff a little bit on what you were saying there, John, there is a lot of data that we have available. There’s a lot of analytics. And the other piece that you said is we need to simplify it for our customers because we can’t have them go through a 20 page website anymore, it’s got to make sense on a phone when they’re walking down the street just walking into a coffee shop. We also need to simplify it, I think, a little bit for ourselves and what the insights are and I actually really like the example of channel affinity that some people do a great job of managing in the pharma industry because there’s one source of truth, all the teams know who are the digital engagers, who are not the digital engagers, made a lot of progress there.

Why don’t we have the same thing for what is the key driver and key barrier for each HCP? Something that updates once a week, once a month, something like that. It doesn’t have to be complicated. We know which webinars they attend now, we know which websites they login to, we know which emails they open. Sometimes we get a good sense of what key messages the reps are delivering. It shouldn’t be that difficult for us to say, hey here’s the thing that’s top of mind for this doctor, whether it’s a driver or a barrier. You just have one source of truth and then we can all operate off that. I think sometimes we over complicate things for ourself by stretching out this perfect vision of how we’re going to move an HCP through all the steps of the journey, and we do need to have that in mind, but at the day to day execution level we just know what’s on their mind. What are they worried about?

Moderator

And with so many touchpoints and interactions that happen in the field, how do we bring it all together? What are you facing to make this happen and how are you doing it?

Yvette Leung

I think one of the biggest challenges that I see is that, exactly to Matt’s point, you need one source of truth and there’s a lot of agencies out there that are trying to gather together bits and pieces, and also a lot of companies that are also trying to bring some of that in house, and trying to aggregate those data sources as well on that front. And I think that across the board there isn’t that one source of truth right now, unfortunately, and everyone’s building toward that vision, but in the interim I think it’s just trying to piece together just as much as you possibly can and really trying to figure out what are the key pieces of information that you need.

So whether it is that channel affinity that we just talked about, or what are they reading, and what are they actually clicking on, what are the right metrics analytically to focus on to understand whether or not the content is being delivered and whether it’s being engaged with is going to be really important. But we’re definitely not there yet, I think there’s been a lot of progress as we’ve talked about, but that’s definitely the challenge that I see on a day to day basis.

Moderator

Go ahead, John.

John Lineen

Yeah, I’m not rep or never was in sales so it’s hard to comment, but I do think it’s still a relationship business from their standpoint and to help them we need to provide the best service, support, materials so they can get that meeting, have that call, have it be successful, be able to have tools to be able to follow-up. So I think it’s not underestimating that relationship that they build with the office staff, with the physician, but just providing them more resources when they have to be socially distanced, or remote, or whatever situation they’re in, in part of the world or country.

Matthew van Wingerden

And just to your point, John, it is a complex job for the sales team right now and Yvette, like you’re saying, there’s lots of different pieces of information. In my mind, when you think about, just I’ll focus on the field exclusively for a moment, when you think about the decision making process that they’re going through we just have to know what the key inputs are because they are capacity limited. There’s only so much time during the day. They do have physical location constraints, so knowing how far away people are and what sacrifice I’m going to make to do a face to face visit with them is important. Knowing what channels they’re going to likely engage with me is very important and knowing what content is available in each channel is also important. So I view it’s gone from having a list of priorities for the week or the day as a sales rep, and then just rank ordering them, and going as far down the list as I can, it’s gone from that to being a Rubik’s cube.

So we’ve got to think about that in the workflow as we enable them as well, how we present this information to them, how they need to make their decisions. If we’re asking them to prioritize a certain doctor for a certain activity, we need to just provide all the relevant content and context, excuse me, at the same time, which is like, hey we think this doctor is right for a face to face visit or for a virtual visit because we have the right function for the channel, it seems like they’re getting engaged with that channel, they’re making it a priority. Several different dimensions, it doesn’t have to be that complicated we just need to know what the right dimensions are, give them information on those pieces, and then all good.

Moderator

So one of the priorities is providing the sales team the information they need. How do you make sure that your workflow supports what they need and that it all works together?

Matthew van Wingerden

Yeah, I think maybe I’ll just kind of tack on because I think it’s a good segue from what we were just discussing. So if we separate out all the marketing activity and we just focus on the end user for a moment, again hand them that app that they don’t know how to use, see if they can do it. In my mind, there are two key workflows that we really need to worry about. One is prioritizing what activities I’m going to do for the day or for the week and that gets a little bit to that point of which one’s going to engage virtually, which one’s going to engage by email versus which ones do I actually have to go face to face to have meaningful engagement, all that kind of prioritization.

And the second is the account view. So now it’s later in the day, I decided I’m going to engage with this account and I just need to know what am I going to say to them or send to them as an email, whatever channel I’ve decided at this point I’m going to engage with them in, I need to refine my messaging or my strategy with that. And so I think there we need to have a very simple way for them to see the world of communication that’s been addressing this HCP. We need to see all the different channels, maybe in some sort of historical, easy to understand calendar view of what are all of the different touchpoints that we’ve had, what are all of the different pieces of content that they’ve accessed, and just make it simple, right? Here’s all the different ways they engaged with us recently, here’s the top three topics that they seem to be interested in, and that’s all you need, right?

So separating out those two workflows is important because there’s different decisions that you need to make when you’re kind of prioritizing HCPs to engage with versus I’m at an HCP and I need to have a messaging strategy. And then understand the different criteria for those different decisions and then we just provide those information in two different places. That doesn’t speak to all the complexity that happens behind that. You’ve heard us talk a lot about content generation, which is absolutely right, that happens all upstream of that, but just in the moment of execution that’s how I think about it.

Yvette Leung

Yeah, and I think Matt did a great job of just explaining through kind of tactically what needs to happen from a workflow standpoint. I think the one thing that I’ll add there is that we just have to be very careful about taking a step back and also thinking upstream about what is the actual strategy that we’ve laid out. Right? We can have an unclear brand strategy and give them all these great tools in the workflow and they’re just going to be totally in data overflow, and they’re not going to know where to go and what to do with all this information. And so thinking through that what’s in it for me, the WIIFM, really from a brand standpoint, setting out that strategy in a very clear way and really helping them guidepost what is the order of priority in terms of the different types of data that we give you. What are examples of how you should use this data? And then what do you do to follow-up once you’ve acquired those insights?

If we know that an HCP does X, what are you going to do, and what types of messages should you provide to them, and then following with the right content is going to be really important. So it’s really marrying both the strategy from an upfront standpoint and then thinking through from a tactical standpoint how do we not overlook them, make sure that they really have the right tools to execute on that kind of strategy that we’ve laid out.

John Lineen

Yeah, I think you guys hit all the right points. I see teams that build hundreds of pages of IVA slides, and Matt you probably have seen this in your role there, and I just scratch my head and say, “That’s not the direction we need to go.” And again, I don’t work in that space, but I do understand the customer a bit and the rep is almost our customer in some respects, so we need to ask them for their input. We’ve had a number of sales members present to our innovation teams and they have a lot of great ideas on how they can better serve and partner with their customers and educate their customers. So they’re part of that feedback loop as well in the complex ecosystem that their job entails of connecting a lot of dots back at the home office with the different groups and teams.

Moderator

Great and I have a follow-up question and I’d also like to just point out to the audience I encourage you putting questions in the chat because I’ll take them and field them, but just as a… So please feel free, audience, to do that. And I just have a follow-up question to that. How do you guys work well… What works to work with your sales co-patriots to make this all happen? Go ahead, Yvette.

Yvette Leung

I think it’s critical to be in touch with them, right? It’s to communicate, to have transparency, to really have a group of sales reps at the very least that you’re in contact with fairly regularly to understand what do you need out there, what’s the experience been. Especially during COVID we’ve really been focused on understanding what the territory opening situation has been, and to what extent they actually have access, and really keeping in touch to make sure that at the ground level we understand what’s happening at the field, right? We could again, like John, hopefully you’re not creating hundreds of pages of IVAs or kind of field sales aids, but you want to make sure that you actually are creating content that they’re actually using. So it’s thinking through the full bolus and inventory of what you’ve created and that content. Is it matched with what we’re hearing in the field in terms of the types of questions and the feedback that we’re getting from customers? Marrying those two things together, so that’s on the content standpoint.

But then also, again, always coming back to analytics and analytical tools, but what do they need and what do they feel like they’re missing today that would enhance their jobs and would help them understand a little bit more about their customers and potentially be able to tailor that conversation better? Again, the time and the number of minutes that they have to spend with HCPs, especially today during COVID, is so much far fewer than what it used to be, right? And so in those precious minutes what are the key topics that they need to hit on? What are key kind of question marks in HCPs minds when it comes to a specific product or about that disease state? And how do we really arm the reps with again, content and tools to be able to service that conversation in the best way possible?

Moderator

John, you were shaking your head.

John Lineen

No, I think Yvette got it right. I mean, again. The brand teams typically are the liaisons with the sales force. What I’m encouraging my teams to do on the digital, non-personal side is more user research, more testing, more feedback from actual customers in faster loops. It’s not good enough to do it once a year or once every two years, it needs to be done much more often. I think it was said previously, we have a lot of messages we want to get through, but I think we need to be cautious about sending too many and the wrong ones. And be very smart about what our customers really need during this time, and what they value, and what they don’t value, and really to know that as well, so that’s also from a sales force perspective, but also from a non-personal…

Moderator

And Matthew, you look like have something to add there.

Matthew van Wingerden

Yeah, I just wanted to add one point because it’s actually funny, John and I were talking about the mass market approach and then the personal approach to the HCP interviews and view it exactly the same with the rep. And so Yvette was talking about that personal connection, kind of having your ad board of reps that you go to and you test out ideas, and it’s their sounding board. I think there is the parallel approach, which is more the broad analytics. I always like the story that in order to see what marketing content was successful in the past, you go to the warehouse where you store the flyers and you see which ones were empty, which racks were empty because the reps were using those. They were voting with their feet.

Well, in a way the shift that we’ve had to go through, through COVID has given us the ability to really see how reps are voting with their feet because it’s a little bit hard to see what slides they’re actually using in a face to face meeting, but if it’s virtual and they’re using the CRM slides or they’re using emails we can see it much more clearly. These are the owners of a small business, each of them has a small business in their territory, so if they’re not using content either they don’t get why it’s important and we didn’t communicate it to them or they don’t like it and it’s not good content. Well, we can see.

Moderator

So you point out one thing about looking at not what’s on the shelves, it hasn’t been used, but also what’s being used from a virtual content. What else have you seen change in terms of the pandemic, in terms of the relationship between you and the sales teams? Are there any other interesting insights? Have you been working closer together? How has the pandemic had an impact?

Matthew van Wingerden

I’m just going to reiterate what Yvette has said many times and I’ll let her take it from there, but there’s always the favorite thing that the sales team likes to complain they don’t have any content. That went from background noise to the main point so, “We’re shifting to digital, you got to give me something to say.” Yvette, I’m sure you can say a lot more about that.

Yvette Leung

Yeah. I think it’s been a lot about… I mean, we’re all learning, right? We recently launched a number of products completely during COVID and had never possibly would have expected that. And I think that the challenge has been again, how do we actually get the content to HCPs? These are oftentimes you’re trying to explain clinical trial data that’s fairly complicated, you’re trying to explain that over some very quick call, or you’re just trying to drop an email and that often doesn’t cut it. And so how do we kind of think through streamlining the content and then think through new ways of actually kind of repackaging the content that we have, right? So to Matt’s point, we still have things in the warehouse, but we also have to figure out how do we convert things into PDF, or PowerPoint, and how do we optimize them for the different platforms that our reps are allowed to use in terms of presenting that content over a virtual conversation with an HCP.

All things that weren’t necessarily at the priority list prior to COVID because oftentimes they were face to face interactions that were happening and there were physical pamphlets or brochures that were actually being handed off, but nowadays we see that reps are only beginning to get into offices and be able to drop off some print materials, for instance, and not even be able to have actual conversations with HCPs. We’re still in that limbo state but we’re improving now as the territories continue to open up, but it’s really thinking through how do we again, repackage some of that content and think through innovative ways for us to actually share that content when they’re not in the same room or they’re standing six feet from each other, for instance.

John Lineen

Yeah, and the customers are going to demand use of the platforms that they prefer. So just in the Journal today, it talked about how Zoom has taken off, and we’re on Zoom right now. And before last March, Zoom was known to those in the digital world but as upstart to compete with WebEx and other platforms, MS Teams and the like, but now they’re very powerful company and platform that you know everybody in your family can use hopefully. The times have changed, how familiar people are with technology as well, different generations use technology in a different way I know as the dad of four teens. So there’s a lot that we underestimate of customers and their familiarity with these platforms and comfort level receiving different messages, or watching videos, or texts, so I think there’s a lot of opportunity for growth in some of the newer… I mean, they’re still new, I guess, but they’re channels that have been around for a while, but there’s still a lot of opportunity for growth.

Moderator

And do you guys… What do you see taking forward? The pandemic has forced a whole bunch of new ways of working. What have you learned that you’ll take forward and be a staple for not just a moment in pandemic time, but something that you’ll take forward and use into the future?

Yvette Leung

I think of just the flexibility. Again, like you said, ways of working, right? And I think that in some ways it’s been challenging because the reps can’t have as many in person conversations, but at the same time it also allows us to bring in speakers, for instance, that you may never have been able to bring in and beam into an office, right? You can have somebody who’s a little bit more remote or a bit farther away and be able to have those kind of cross country or cross region interactions that you may not have had prior and so I think that’s really interesting.

The other thing that we definitely certainly will take forward since we do expect a more hybrid working model probably going forward, is that we have to train our reps. We have to train our reps, we have to train all of our teams on virtual best practices around how to present, what is the content that we have to create, how do we again, align that content to the right platforms and make sure that everything is compatible, and that we are really trying to level the playing field across the board around tech literacy and kind of the comfort with different technology and platforms as we bring in new innovation. Right?

I think that we all were sort of shocked in the beginning of COVID around understanding again, like John said, is it Zoom, is it WebEx, is it Microsoft Teams? What platform and all the nuances to the different platforms, that there are virtual best practices that we’ve seen a number of folks across the industry share with each other, share internally, and those will certainly need to be carried forward and really baked into the training plans to be honest across the board, which wasn’t something that used to be a staple beforehand.

Moderator

Go ahead, Matt.

Matthew van Wingerden

Yeah, I think, one thing just we’ve noticed, it’s kind of interesting being able to serve our global pharma customers. We’re able to look at different regions and see them as perhaps predictors for what we’re going to see in North America. So in China we’ve got a lot of great data of sort of quote unquote post COVID, obviously it’s not entirely the case. But seeing how our HCP customers engage with us and interact with our content, one simple fact we’ve learned is I think we’ve permanently fried the attention span of a lot of people in COVID just because we’ve had so much digital interaction. That’s not fully coming back ever to long, lengthy, whatever, 40 page websites that John was talking about.

And what we’re seeing in China and we’re starting to track a similar trend in North America was that… We actually get a little bit richer data in China that we don’t get in North American because WeChat is the primary mode of communication. So what we saw is there’s a huge surge where we got more HCPs engaging with us on WeChat, more individual interactions per HCP in WeChat, however the seconds that they spent, the time that the spent on each piece of content, which we can track not in email, but in WeChat went down dramatically. Now, the overall engagement rate in digital channels has started relax. It’s actually come down not to pre-COVID, but to something in between. It’s about halfway in between what we’re seeing in China and the trend in North America looks to be about the same. It seems like we’ll probably about halfway, but that last piece has not recovered, right?

The amount of seconds per page view or per content is not coming back up in China and I think we should kind of take that lesson into content development, and content recommendations, or next best message AI, however you want to think about it. We need to learn that lesson in North America as well.

Moderator

Go ahead, John.

John Lineen

Yeah, I think that’s a great insight. At other events I’ve talked about the short attention spans people have. And again, with different ages in my family here the attention spans can vary widely, my own included. So I think that’s a fantastic point and in working in global roles definitely some markets like Brazil, Turkey, Netherlands are very advanced in digital and multichannel from my past experience, and really pushing the envelope on content strategy with podcasts, and short video websites, and I think there’s more we can do to kind of leverage the mediums that we have today. Why don’t we have sites that have 30 or 40 short KOL videos of 30 seconds or more? Just different formats that we need to push and challenge ourselves to think about our customer needs and how they engage in those short windows. So I think that’s a great point that Matt has.

Moderator

Yeah, and underlying all of this is the data. So there’s so many new sources of data that we can use now. How do you leverage this and how do you move to new models of communicating with customers with new data? Talk a little bit about data and the impact.

Matthew van Wingerden

Sure, happy to start this one. I think it goes back to what I was saying before. The data on uptake of our products hasn’t really changed. We have the same, if we’re talking the U.S. data, we have the same TRx, NRx, specialty pharma, all that’s stayed the same. What has changed is our ability to understand how we’re engaging with our HCPs because we have so much more auto capture data from digital channels. So we have this challenge where our relationship with HCP has been scattered, it’s been shotgunned across, so no one person has the ability to see it all. However, we actually have collectively much more information. So this gets into some of what needs to happen in terms of either content tagging, or I’m a tech guy so I like technology, natural language processing, matching of different content together.

So we need to be able to stitch the picture back together, part of it is being able to stitch the content together so we make sure we understand what content relates to each other and what are the themes there. And then that will allow us to see how the HCPs engage with that content not as this email over there, and that webinar over there, and this KOL video over here, but as overall themes, right? We got to stitch back together that picture of what are people engaging with theme by theme not individual piece of video or content here by here.

Moderator

John, you look like you were about to say something when Matthew chimed in there.

John Lineen

Yeah, I was just taking some notes here. I think… I mean, we have endless amounts of data in big pharma and in any of my locations there’s been tons of data, tons of research, tons of insights on the customers. We’re not always the best at synthesizing that, putting it in a simpler picture of what business problem we’re trying to solve for ourselves and what customer problem… How are we trying to help them either understand our product or get access to our product? So I think it’s simplicity, that’s been mentioned before, and there’s a lot of new data sources. Certainly from a media standpoint, there’s additional targeting we can do and data we can learn from EMR partners under the right MLR guidances of course, and also from this voice of customer that I speak about as far as just asking our customers for feedback. That’s data that should be incorporated and really built into our workflow and our processes to just get more feedback realtime from customers on whatever tactic we’re building.

Moderator

Yvette, do you have anything to add?

Yvette Leung

Yeah, no I think Matt and John really covered out on it. I think that simplicity is going to be really critical. I think the challenge with having so many more data sources is that oftentimes when you think about the agencies that are reporting out or even internally, when they’re reporting out the data it just becomes data overload again, right? Where it’s just okay, and here in this channel we found this, and in this channel we found this, and here’s all the KPIs that we could possibly figure out across all these different channels. And you kind of take a step back and your response is basically, “So what?” Right? What can I do with this? How can we make it actionable?

So I think, to me the key word is simple and actionable, right? So making sure that we actually have something to do with all these insights. We can feed that back to the reps for instance, or we can bring that back into our marketing campaigns and actually enhance… Again, we can tweak the content, we can see what messages are actually resonating with customers, or we can figure out what kind of messages and the order in which they should go in with those for the reps, or at what time points, or on what channels should reps be utilizing it, and marketing as well. So there is a lot of rich data and insights that we can gather. It’s just really a matter of how do we boil that down and really make it really helpful and actionable again, for all the teams.

Moderator

And how are you guys using AI, ML, and conversational tech to decipher what’s interesting and then provide the visibility?

Matthew van Wingerden

We could talk for days. This is a great topic, but I’ll just highlight it briefly. What we’ve actually spent a lot of time investigating over the last 18 months, and I’ll kind of just give our personal experience, is natural language processing. And I’ll tell you exactly why. Every single conversation I have with a marketing team about, “Hey, how are you organizing all your content?”, is, “Well, we’ve wanted to do tagging, we have some of it done, but it’s some channels not…” It’s an endless task and it’s actually becoming more and more endless, if that’s a possibility, as we go along because as John was saying, all these little pieces that we’re making it more bite sized. Well, now instead of that one 20 page document we’ve got 1,000 bite sized pieces. It’s actually from a human management standpoint, it’s just too much. And so what we have to do is put in some sort of natural language processing where we can automatically stitch together all the different themes that are in the content and so that’s the one side of it.

And then build that machine learning model that says hey, I’ve got a random HCP who’s engaged with me in some digital channels. I always compare it to Netflix, but that’s actually a little bit of an unfair comparison because we have a lot more information than Netflix has. Netflix only knows what movies I watch, which to be fair in the last year has been quite a lot for some reason. I don’t know, I don’t get out much. But we know all the interactions we have with HCP, plus we know their scripts, plus we know their specialty, plus we know what type of practice they’re in, these are things that Netflix doesn’t know and yet, Netflix can recommend content to me. Why can’t we build that machine learning in the pharma industry to kind of make those recommendations?

Again, to the points that have been raised by Yvette before, it needs to fit within the strategy so there’s a little bit more constraint. Our goal is not just engagement overall, it’s the right engagement, but we can certainly solve what’s interesting to each HCP using natural language processing, and the usual types of machine learning, things like collaborative filtering have been used for years in other industries.

Yvette Leung

Yeah, I think this really goes to the point that we talked about earlier around what can we bring in from other industries, right? And I think that historically pharma has been a little bit slower on the digital uptake and innovation relative to other industries due to the regulations and kind of the guardrails that we have. But I think we’re at a point now where we are actively trying to source through that innovation from other areas. And the challenge for us is really to think through well, what are those pieces from a Netflix algorithm standpoint, what are those other pieces of information outside of simply their preferences when it comes to pharma content, and education, and their viewing habits. What else can we bring in from the outside world and their normal habits from a daily standpoint that can help us inform potentially the type of education that we’re providing and the type of touchpoints that we’re having, right?

And I think that one thing I’m sure John will be all over as soon as we get back to actual, physical, in person conferences is I mean, we have geofencing data, right? We have all these different pieces of very cool information that border on, some would say, kind of big brother-y type of insight, but it is really… I mean, we have to think back to what is the intent behind actually gathering this data? What are the types of insights and what can we action on in a way that doesn’t make folks feel uncomfortable, but is really geared towards how do we provide the best experience, right? Voice of the customer, that kind of user interface or experience overall that makes it a win win for everyone ultimately.

Moderator

Go ahead, John.

John Lineen

No, nothing much more to add in this space. I’m definitely not an expert in AI, ML. I know it’s important. I know our teams in the insight group are working on it and we’re partnering with them on it. I think we have some other data challenges to get taken care of first, but definitely that technology can support what we’re trying to do on the pharma side.

Matthew van Wingerden

Apologies Cari. That point Yvette made about big brother I think is a really, really key point here and again, if you look to other industries it’s the whole cool versus creepy. Is it cool that after I went on the Gap website I get an ad on my phone that tells me to buy that same shirt or whatever? For some people it really is and if it’s useful for me, I value it. I actually like getting targeted so I have a nice experience as a customer versus creepy. And there’s a lot of things that go into it. I’ll just tell you right now, like Germany for example, we have to dial down a lot of the machine learning that we do in Germany because there’s a much more sensitive, creepy register, if you will, there, whereas in the U.S. it’s a little bit more of a consumer driven culture. Not to overly stereotype or generalize, but it’s what we see, we’re able to provide a lot more information.

And just tying it back to something that we said before, the onus is much more on us in the pharma industry right now to come in with the relevant content. So I think we’ve shifted that barrier a little bit of people expect us to know what they want to talk about. It’s actually almost rude if we don’t do some of these analytics, maybe stretching it a bit here, but I think there’s a point where we have a lot more room to run than we used to with this.

Moderator

I like it. Cool versus creepy, walking the line. So if I gave you guys a magic wand, and said, “Here. You can do anything,” in terms of blue sky thinking, your dream scenario, what does it look like?

Yvette Leung

I think one thing that has always been the golden standard and really what everyone strives towards, but we’re not there yet at all, is around attribution, right? So being able to attribute all of the work that we’re doing from a marketing standpoint and all the interactions that we’re having in the field back to scripts, right? And that frankly, there’s a whole host… We could have another session about all the data challenges behind why that can’t happen today and probably not even in the very near future, but that is ultimately what would be so helpful to understand, right? What is actually driving the business ultimately? What is the right content? What are the right channels? What’s the right mix when you think through that channel and kind of omnichannel marketing business standpoint and strategy? And I think that, that’s somewhere where we would love to get to and would love to hear the team’s thoughts here as well on that specifically, but that is just an end all, be all that would be so helpful to have.

Moderator

Go ahead, John.

John Lineen

Yeah, I think for me it’s when customers are saying that, “Wow, this was really helpful.”, or, “This is useful information.”, or when customers are seeing that change. So at Digitas Health they kind of drilled into my head how we need to help our customers, and help HCPs, help patients so I think we need to keep in the mind at the end of the day it’s a patient getting a pill, or medicine, or a therapy and our job is to really focus on them and their needs, help them get better.

At GSK, it’s do more, live longer, and feel better, I think I’m getting it wrong, but they’ll correct me later, but at BMS it’s about serious medicines that we’re working through. So I think at the end of the day it’s about the patient, but in my role if HCPs are saying, “Wow that’s different.”, or, “That’s a service for my patients.”, then we would have reached the nice spot.

Moderator

Got it. Yeah, go ahead Matthew.

Matthew van Wingerden

Yeah, I’ll take the technology angle again, I’m coming from Aktana, it’s a technology company. There are some things which are always going to be hard. Yvette and John were talking a little bit about the attribution, there are just fundamental reasons why we’re not going to be able to make it wave that magic wand, but there are some magic wands that we should be able to wave, right? Strategy is hard, understanding patients and HCPs requires work, requires effort, but getting data to show up in the right place, having machine learning algorithms that work and do what they’re supposed to, these are solved problems. So we should be able to wave that magic wand and we should be able to connect the systems in the right way, make sure people have the data in the right way. Sure, there’s work we need to do to make sure that it shows up in the workflow exactly in an easy to use way and it ties to strategy, but there’s no excuse for us not to make those things just connect and make the data show up in the right place.

Moderator

And then bringing it back to the HCPs and the reps, how do we make them feel like they’re in charge? There’s so much coming at them. There’s so much data. How do we make the rep, who’s the one that’s on the front lines, be in charge of this all?

Yvette Leung

I think Matt talked about earlier kind of the rep being the owner of that kind of local business and I think that’s very much the stance that we have to take and really empower them again, with the right tools to really be able to understand what their business landscape looks like, who are their customers, who are their targets, who are their priority customers, for instance, relative to other ones, and what types of content and what ways in which they should engage with those folks. And so it’s thinking through from a planning standpoint what does my business look like and how can I improve that? And then secondly, it’s thinking through what the minute interactions that I have to have? How do I actually go out and have those conversations then? Right? Now, I’ve planned for it, here’s my strategy, here are my tactics, and then now how do I actually go in and execute on those tactics really?

And so I mean, surround sound all of the stuff that Matt just talked about in terms of being able to actually use those machine learning tools and to actually have the data visualization to a point where they can actually see that whole world of interactions that have actually happened is going to be really critical going forward because there is again, that shift in onus towards us to actually provide the right content to really educate. And I think that we’re in a unique spot to do that. I think COVID has really accelerated that transition in a lot of ways and so I think I’m definitely really excited to see where it takes us.

John Lineen

And I would just chime and say that the customer’s really in charge, the doctor, the office staff, the patients. In this world of customer experience, they’re in control. So the rep is a key, key component of that, but I think we have to keep the customer in mind and GSK is do more, feel better, live longer, so that’s their mantra. I want to get that right so they don’t follow me, but thanks that was it.

Matthew van Wingerden

Maybe the one angle I think I can add to this is, and we’ve all been talking and I’ve been talking a little bit about the day to day execution moments, we also need to rethink the sales planning cycle. It served a really important function before COVID. I think it kind of got blown up because all the usual like hey, here’s your content and so on, it’s changed a lot. But we need to rethink what that process looks in a greater omnichannel world, and so there’s some thinking about how do we help them plan the activities in their territory across all the different channels they have available for themselves because each rep is an omnichannel promotional entity, right? So just rethinking how we help them plan every six months, every three months for the mix of activities they’re going to do I think is the missing piece.

Moderator

All right, well it looks like we are coming up to the top of the hour, so I just wanted to take a moment and say thank you to all of my esteemed panelists. Appreciate your time and I think you’ve shared some great insights, and with that I will turn this back over to James.