We live in an increasingly connected world, where experiences generated through digital applications and platforms like Uber and Amazon help us seamlessly and easily navigate our everyday lives. As companies continue to advance their ability to use data to anticipate and meet customer needs digitally, it makes sense that heightened customer expectations will no longer recognize traditional ‘industry’ boundaries.

When it comes to understanding changing patient needs, Life Sciences companies are starting from a deficit. A recent Accenture survey of biopharma CEO’s and their marketing leaders found that 50 percent of the marketing leaders said they don’t have a good understanding of what their customers need and want. Unfortunately for the industry, patients agree – another recent Accenture research study shows only 47 percent of patients believe pharmaceutical companies understand their emotional, financial and other needs related to their condition. As a result, many patients, who are accustomed to using digital technology in their everyday lives, are turning to online forums, patient organizations, telemedicine, and other resources for information and support to manage their health.

However, patients are not the ones facing a new paradigm. Physicians are struggling to keep up with growing demands on their time and are experiencing a record level of burnout, with 80 percent reporting that they are being stretched beyond their capacity, which limits their ability to spend time with patients, and challenges their ethical imperatives to help. The Massachusetts Medical Society shows that burnout has a demonstrable impact on physician work hours – every one-point increase in burnout on a seven-point scale is associated with a 30 to 40 percent increase in the likelihood that a physician will reduce his or her work hours in the next two years, exasperating what they called a ‘public health crisis’. 1

This all points to healthcare being at a crossroads, one where life sciences companies have an opportunity to grow by understanding the needs and expectations across stakeholder groups and developing a new approach to solve some of the critical challenges facing patients and physicians.

Building a commercial growth engine

Embracing innovation to meet changing needs and drive better outcomes while avoiding the bottlenecks of disruption is a daunting ask, but there is a clear transformational path… pairing treatment, technology, and experience.

Accenture research estimates that New Science –– the meeting point between technology and science –– will drive more than 50 percent of the biopharmaceutical industry’s growth between 2017 and 2022. It will shape the treatments and solutions life sciences companies develop, determine whom they collaborate with, and how they manage costs and risks through treatments that have a new mechanism, modality, or emerging health technology.

With six of the top ten largest tech companies heavily investing in healthcare, there are opportunities to work together. To understand the potential of collaboration with non-traditional players, we can look to the recently publicized relationship between Novartis and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Using AWS and the AWS Partner Network, Novartis constructed a platform that involved virtually screening 10 million compounds against a common cancer target. It was estimated that it would take 50,000 cores and roughly $40 million of investment if they wanted to run the experiment internally but using Amazon Web Services and Novartis’ 39 years of computational chemistry knowledge, they were able to conduct the experiment in nine hours with an investment of only $4,232. Out of the 10 million compounds screened, three were successfully identified.

Partnerships can accelerate the creation of exceptional experiences to drive outcomes. For example, Voluntis, a leader in digital therapeutics and Novartis are evaluating the use of Voluntis’ Theraxium Oncology platform for breast cancer patients. Not only will patients be armed with tools to more effectively self-manage their systems, but the hope is that through data analytics and automated triage capabilities it will be possible for integrated care teams to monitor patients remotely and engage directly with them when needed. The digital therapeutic will be evaluated in an upcoming prospective clinical trial.2

But companies don’t need to buy an experience engine, they can start bridging this gap with better insights from a new, more flexible commercial team, that is able to rapidly evolve to meet customers’ changing needs and contexts.

A new commercial model

In our recent survey, we found that 87 percent of biopharma CEOs think their marketing leaders should be developing continuous, actionable customer insights to improve marketing impact. However, this exposes an internal disconnect as 57 percent of the biopharma marketing leads we surveyed expressed that while they have more access to data, they struggle to use it to make better decisions.

Across the industry data is pervasive, collected from various sources across geographies through clinical trials, wearable technology, and other digital sources. Unfortunately, most of the information is largely siloed and difficult to connect. It is even harder to mine that data for insights which can then be quickly actioned by marketing and sales teams.

Companies need to build a new commercial model that is centered on delivering outcomes, not just products. These outcome-based commercial models will be able to use meaningful insights from patients, caregivers, their healthcare providers, pharmacies, and payers. They will be enabled by technology such as AI, advanced analytics, and machine learning. And they will be powered by a future workforce with new skills and competencies and a new approach to internal and external partnering.

New models must:

Delight Customers: Embrace new methods of research that enable brands to understand the unmet patient and healthcare provider needs and designs experiences that people love.

Apply Intelligence: Educate teams on the application of AI, smart automation, machine learning and advanced analytics at scale—to discover and apply new insights.

Streamlines & Digitize: Empower seamless collaboration across the commercial organization and other functional areas – connecting, simplifying and unifying decision making.

Harness Ecosystems: Enable and encourage connection to data and insights from external entities to impacting patient outcomes

Be life years ahead

At the heart of every care experience is a person – a human being. Being life years ahead means you understand this, knowing exactly what is delighting your customers and differentiating you from your competitors at every moment. To be sure, change is hard but becoming a “Living Business” – one that unlocks sustained growth by continuously understanding and adapting to evolving customer needs—will become the beating heart of successful life science commercial organizations.

To learn more about our commercial, sales & marketing services for life sciences, click here.

Elizabeth Otterman

Managing Director

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