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June 24, 2015
Highlights from Veeva Commercial Summit: Customer centricity & patient engagement
By: Tom Schwenger

It was our pleasure to attend the Veeva Commercial Summit, on June 9-11, 2015, in Philadelphia, PA. Attended by life sciences professionals and Veeva experts, the summit provided attendees an opportunity to learn, connect and share valuable insights regarding industry trends and best practices in the life sciences sector.

Accenture has been a long-standing partner with Veeva and has always had a significant presence at the Veeva Commercial Summit. This year we saw an increased focus on innovation in the digital space, including the use of multi-channel information to serve customers better, digital enablement of the sales force and new approaches to providing relevant digital content to customers anytime, anywhere.

During the summit, we both had the opportunity to speak to attendees. Early on Wednesday, Tom participated in an executive panel discussion on the New Era of Customer Engagement. This session highlighted the challenges faced by the industry in recognizing both the growth expectations for their products and the healthcare spend allocated to pharmaceuticals, and the significant disparity that exists between these forces. Publicly available statistics brought to life the increase in payments based on outcomes, the shifting control of spend decisions, and the increase in digital patient engagement. In this environment, sales and marketing teams will need to work harder to identify the value propositions for their products to ensure the right customers are targeted to benefit from these products and supporting services to drive better health outcomes.

Shawn led our breakout session on Using Content to Drive Better Customer Experience later in the day on Wednesday. During this session, he shared insights around what customers want and how multi-channel experiences can help to drive patient engagement. There has certainly been a lot of discussion about customer-centricity, however not everyone is yet positioned strategically to move in that direction. In our view, becoming customer-centric is a journey and individual companies are located at very different points along that path. Specialty pharma companies have adopted more customer-centric approaches to date, but the core shifts driving the industry to customer-centricity—reimbursement models, changing buyer profiles and the introduction of digital—are all equally impactful and relevant in more traditional primary care settings as well.

Customer-centricity will require a complete change in how companies operate — how well you understand your customer’s needs and preferences, how you communicate with your customers, at what frequency and with what content you communicate, how you collaborate between your field forces and marketing, and how you plan and execute a sales rep call or detailing. These demand change management efforts that companies must implement carefully.

When it comes to enabling sales representatives with multi-channel information, we see it as a journey, the timing of which varies based on the individual company’s appetite for adopting change. It requires technological and process enablement as well as proper training and mechanisms for assessing success. To achieve this could take anywhere from six weeks to start with basic available data and technology to 1.5-2 years to complete the evolution.

To increase competitiveness, there are three ways to improve patient engagement:

  • Understanding patients’ needs and preferences will help pharma companies provide physicians, payers and patients with relevant content whenever they require it. This will help pharma companies act as a partner in achieving patient outcomes and enhance the loyalty of all the customers in the healthcare delivery ecosystem.

  • Adopting a patient-centric approach will help pharma companies to understand and cater to patient issues, and create awareness about the disease state. Helping patients with onboarding processes, payer support and creating a platform of collaboration with other patients through the Web and social networks will enable higher patient adherence.

  • Streamlining internal sales and marketing processes and increasing collaboration among commercial entities will, in-turn, make companies more operationally efficient.

By taking this approach and equipping the sales force with relevant information about customer’s needs and preferences, companies will become more effective at communicating and interacting with customers. Three keys to success are:

  • Providing the right set of tools and technologies to the sales reps, augmenting personal interaction with digital interactions.

  • Ensuring all capabilities are simple to use and adopt, and highly integrated across CRM and analytics environments.

  • Planning for sufficient training and change management activities to be conducted along with capability improvement efforts.

Accenture’s most recent High Performance Business assessment of the Life Sciences industry predicts a “return to growth” for the pharmaceutical industry. Companies that lead the pack in patient engagement and experience will benefit disproportionally from this trend, which most importantly will ultimately lead to better patient outcomes.

If you would like to connect with either of us to talk about these ideas, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

To learn more about the Veeva Commercial Summit, visit the Veeva website.

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