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Digital Communication Technologies for Pharmaceutical Business

Recent streams in the pharmaceutical business introduce new approaches to the client, information management, and drug value consideration.

New winds start blowing on the world pharmaceutical business field that can be named the era of the New Health Economy. The distinctive features of these processes are:

  1. Closer cooperation between the healthcare institutions like hospitals and clinics, to become more productive
  2. Understanding patients' requirements and what are they looking for
  3. Changes in pricing policies caused by an increased number of players
  4. Reducing the role of an individual doctor and growing importance of the protocol-based treatment models

As a result, the quality of medical service will be the top priority of the new healthcare system over the quantity of provided services which will make the health services industry more customer-oriented.

The truth is the pharmaceutical companies have always voted for keeping in touch with the clients. The direct contact with a customer has been vital to them, so desire to find a chance for tighter communication, like patient’s involvement in the clinical trial, looks natural. Still, the pharma companies were somewhat limited in the range of tools which allow direct contact. At the same time, the approaches, used before, become severely outdated.

These days the pharmaceutical companies will have to be more flexible and active dealing with the groups of clients and to do something more than just talking to them. As long as sales' financial numbers still drive the pharma companies, they will have to concentrate more on bringing more goods things to the clients, such as health state improvement, diseases prevention and so on.

These new obstacles can bring benefits to some pharmaceutical companies which can reconsider the therapeutic and commercial value of their products. Among all, they may discover for themselves new technologies which allow vast amounts of personalized medical data processing and analyzing.

Based on this innovation, companies may

  • Develop new solutions for delivering products to the patients in a more effective way
  • Design new communication channels
  • Observe the summarized results of the process.

These elements are expected to play a role in the pharmaceutical business.

Below three attributive strategies that the pharmaceutical business will face this year are described.

It's all about the patient

“Patient is a top priority” is a loud slogan wondering here or there throughout the world of pharmaceutical business but only a handful of companies are actually implementing this concept into their daily operation. And just a few companies with a more comprehensive approach prefer to be more flexible and innovative in building new communication channels with the patients over utilizing an old model of “from top to bottom.” Being more diverse in staying in touch with a consumer allows the patients getting more information about the drugs, possible risks of intake and ensures the patients will draw an individual scheme to operate the health care services to achieve the best result.

Considering a patient as a top-priority is helpful for the pharmaceutical companies to increase their value to the customers because in this case, the patients look at them as at the provider of the positive things, not just a seller. Consequently, when the company succeeds in having more human-oriented relations with a client, it brings new commercial benefits too as the company knows the client’s needs and expectations better than ever.

To make cooperation with the patients more effective, the pharmaceutical companies have to find new communications channels and better tools to process the data about individual customers. Indeed, the medical information is confidential, though the patients prefer to keep it closed, in a nutshell, the recent studies show that they are ready to sacrifice their full confidentiality privilege if it gives the possibility to deploy more resources in the treatment process.

The online websites, mobile apps as well as wide assortment of the digital devices of physiological parameters tracking and non-invasive diagnostics help to collect as much information as necessary. Among all, the mobile applications give a chance also to communicate with a client by informing him about drug schedule intake or provide with the other medical recommendations. These apps make it possible to track the whole treatment process and to make a final analysis based on the received information.

As an example of how much high technologies became recently implemented in the healthcare sector, there are already the software programs being developed and tested which allow consultation of the patient with the virtual doctor online, getting individual treatment schedule and medical recommendation based on the complex diagnosis provided digitally.

This is a new era of supplying medical services as it increases the overall awareness of the client about his health state and the ways to improve it including disease specifics, available drugs, and risks, by also studying the similar disease cases of another anonymous patient. And all this becomes possible to be performed remotely from the hospital site which is crucially important in case of providing primary medical care, when physical visit is burdening and makes the doctor’s task to extract seriously sick persons from those who are just slightly feeling bad, or during the epidemics situations when coming to the hospital only to check your light throat take can result in massive infection, caused by another patient in the hospital reception desk queue.

When we need to find adequate treatment for the patient, we have to know his specific behavioral and habitual models. With this knowledge, we can find ways how to stimulate the patient for taking care of his health better. In particular, the patient can be encouraged with some material spur, like monetary prizes or gifts. For example, if a patient receives some money for participation in the group program to decrease consumption of fatty food, it can bring much better results than encouraging the patient to control his diet by just doctor’s recommendations.

One more thing that might be helpful in stimulation the patients to care more about their health is to find out those spots in their behavior and thinking where their attention to their health is becoming more focused and intense. By tracking these patterns and places, it becomes possible to keep in touch with them in these moments of activation and though, to deliver the right messages with much higher efficiency. This method can be used for healthcare services providers, pharmacies, doctors, and other parties which care about patient’s health.

A right time to analyze

Another distinctive tendency in the pharmaceutical business is the growing importance of medicinal information analysis. The matter in few last decades the healthcare sector rapidly increased the amount of medical data collected using numerous sources including digital patients' state records, electronic diagnostics devices, and other tools. Thus, the necessity to process vast amounts of collected information is evident as it helps to improve communication with a client and to make the administration of the drugs more effective. This trend was immediately noticed by the pharmaceutical companies which discovered all possible advantages of medicinal data storage and analysis.

Although it may seem that obtaining vast amounts of medical data is the complete key to better understanding customer’s needs and developing proper tools for more effective communication, it is not that simple. The vast mass of data is not a treasure itself, but it must be a component of systematic work to extract the corresponding and useful information abstracts which can be further analyzed. So, the operator of such big data has to find out what is the expected tool which is going to be obtained by information analysis. For example, if you want to know why the patient is hesitating about drug consumption and skips intake on particular days, you need to learn more about his schedule and habits. And knowing that, you can contact him more frequently on those specific days to remind about intake or inform why the regular consumption is necessary.

The analysis of the patient’s information provides with the full range of benefits, including the ability to adapt the facilities, policies, distribution network, and marketing approaches for the customers’ needs. Specifically, medical data analytics open broader opportunities in such segments of drug product process: to figure out the potential groups of population that can be a match for new clinical trials; to correct marketing strategy, pricing levels, distribution channels, programs of loyalty and so on; to forecast risks and to improve reaction capabilities in case of adverse reactions; to develop the most convenient communication channels with the customer where dialogue between a supplier and a consumer is fast and effective.

To reach these advantages by collecting and analyzing the patients’ data, it requires some extra managerial efforts and management system changes. As long as learning more on data analysis than on the practical experience may face resistance among the personnel, it can be reasonable to create a team which will specialize in data analytics. The members of this team have to combine entrepreneurial and analytics’ skills equally that will let them cope with the determined task the best. Besides, they have to be good at computer sciences and management theory as they will have to implement their findings in the whole system of the enterprise. Notably, the process management has to be paid attention to as it will be critically important to ensure the received information is analyzed, and the findings are distributed equally and properly. At the same time, the system has to stay protected from information leaks and other dangers.

Drug value concerns

The third trend in the pharmaceutical business is the global concern about the pricing of drugs. The question which almost every top manager in the pharma worries about is how much really this or that drug should cost. There is no secret that the price of the average drug is persistently growing and it makes troubles to the consumers as well to the budget healthcare organizations which are involved in the tender procurements. One of the recent negative situations is when the international or domestic healthcare public institution is refusing to procure some types of medicines due to their extremely high price although these drugs may be vitally needed by a group of patients whose last hope is right this medication. And what is more, the problem of the cost increase is becoming worse as the pharmaceutical companies are making more specific drugs which cost more, but the budgets are becoming more restricted.

As long as the problem of drug value determination still exists, it is obvious that the pharmaceutical companies need to discover another possibilities to figure out the value that will match the expectations of four stakeholder parties, among them: the funding parties which use different methods of price by analyzing the specifics of targeted consumers; the third parties which track the patient’s data in the context of commercial value, so they can determine the medicine cost; the performers, which are more able to estimate the drug cost in terms of its quality and efficiency; and finally, the patients who are actually paying for the drugs. The patients are getting more voice to be heard thanks to the new channels of communication like social media and initiative groups organization. And now the position of patients on the cost issue can’t be neglected. Thus more institutions are developing closer contact with the patients to learn their opinions on their purchasing strategies and drug pricing on the whole.

The main task which has to be done by the pharmaceutical companies to solve the cost problem is to precisely and clearly explain to those four groups of stakeholders about the benefits, so they can understand and accept the announced price. Providing the stakeholders with the exhaustive information about how the given drug improves the global healthcare landscape or delivers positive results to an individual patient is a key tool to find a compromise on the pricing issue. The customers need to see the real proves how the drugs are helping them, so they can understand what they are paying for. In terms of that, if the consumer realizes that the final product he pays for is the health benefit, his better life, not just a pill, he is more likely to agree with the cost.

Still, when the public clients, such as the funding parties and performers, are getting more decision-making power in the drug selection process, the approaches, used by the pharmaceutical companies, to present the products, have to be reconsidered. And it is critically important to find the decision-making persons in these institutions in the same way as the pharmaceutical companies did for many years when staying in touch with individual doctors. What is more crucial is that these types of customers are more focused on the overall impact than on separate benefits of the drug.

One more thing about the drug value determination is that the pharmaceutical companies should always keep in mind: drug value is formed long before it appears on the pharmacy shelves. Focusing more on the issues in the stage of clinical trials, like trial data collection, targeted volunteer groups, drug indications and so on, has to be stimulated as this is a critical point where the true value of the product is being created.

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