What is important when successfully launching digital solutions in pharma and medtech?
In recent times, digital solutions have taken the pharma and medtech industry by storm. While commercial teams have an intensive track record of successfully commercialising drug products, the pharma and medtech industries have not been able to make digital solutions1 commercially viable.
In this article, we highlight the most common challenges that commercial teams face in launching digital solutions, and what they can do to develop a Go-to-Market strategy tailored to digital solutions to increase customer uptake.
In our work, we regularly witness common challenges that commercial teams face when launching Go-to-Market strategies for digital solutions. We would like to highlight two fundamental challenges (see below): the lack of experience in selling or positioning and measuring value. Many customer-facing teams lack the experience in selling or positioning digital solutions on the market, being unaware of what stakeholders want. Meanwhile, companies often try to measure the success of digital solutions in sales numbers, being faced with a lack of understanding of the value to stakeholders. For both challenges, we recommend a test-and-learn approach. As companies directly talk to their stakeholders, the insights should be collected and leveraged to tailor the engagement to the stakeholders. The more the engagement is tailored to the individual needs, the more value for the stakeholders is created. Here we suggest leveraging a value framework with more than one dimension to measure value (see Step 5 for in-depth information).
We suggest companies follow a five-step approach when tailoring a Go-to-Market strategy to digital solutions (Figure 2). Each step will be explained in the following paragraphs.
Figure 2: Approach to building a Go-to-Market strategy tailored to digital solutions
Knowing which stakeholders to target with the digital solution is key to building a successful Go-to-Market strategy. We advise companies develop a patient journey for informing them about pain points, state of mind and key stakeholders along the care pathway. With the identification of relevant stakeholders, it is worth not only exploring traditional stakeholders but also expanding the focus to non-traditional stakeholders who influence the care journey. Traditional stakeholders commonly include patients, physicians and nurses, while non-traditional stakeholders could be social media influencers or specialty healthcare providers.
To better tailor the engagement to stakeholders and have a more significant impact, we also recommend creating personas of each stakeholder that help companies to better understand stakeholder preferences when it comes to value message, channels and content. One of the most common criteria relating to digital solutions is digital savviness. For example, in one of the recent studies Strategy& found four physician personas who differ in their level of digital savviness (Figure 3):
Figure 3: Digital savviness personas of physicians
The digital solution can produce different types of value for every stakeholder. Thus, we advise companies to determine must-win-moments for each stakeholder – moments along the care pathway where engagement strategies should be impactful for the stakeholder to create a differentiated experience. This differentiated experience needs to be reflected in the value messages. For example, a must-win moment for physicians can be the willingness to support patients with treatment-related information despite having limited time to interact with patients. In this case, companies can position the digital solution as valuable to physicians because it always gives patients access to treatment-related content without the involvement of the physician. The educative burden of the physician is thereby reduced. To understand these must-win moments and boost value messages, companies need to talk to identified stakeholders and iterate the engagement based on the data collected. Value messages become significant when key channels and content for each stakeholder are defined (Figure 5).
To build the omnichannel approach, we suggest companies map the stakeholder personas to suitable engagement channels. Staying with the example of physician personas, we have plotted several channels that apply to each digital-savvy persona (Figure 4). In this case, we advise companies to target Traditionalists with more in-person, less digital communication, while Next Normal Champions can be addressed through an increased number of digital channels. Digital Explorers and Digital Adopters can be approached by hybrid channels linking face-to-face interactions with digital channels. For example, we would address the Digital Explorer with in-person communication by sales representatives and referrals from medical colleagues as this persona is mainly influenced by people. As digital awareness is present, we would create a hybrid omnichannel and supplement with several digital channels which allow for digital communication (e.g. an HCP portal).
Channels can also be non-traditional. One example is the patient outcome specialist. Without explicit sales targets, the outcome specialist aims to create the best outcome for patients by having an in-depth understanding of the patient journey. Patient outcome specialists target HCPs in-person and virtually to provide integrated solutions (including the digital solution) to meet patient needs and increase patient outcomes holistically.
Figure 4: Overview of channels that different digital-savvy personas prefer for their engagement
To increase engagement with digital solutions, it is important to adapt the content based on the persona and time of engagement. With an abundance of promotional content, many stakeholders are inundated by campaigns and companies face the risk of being overlooked. Therefore, we advise companies to better understand the expectations of stakeholders and to produce content relevant to them (Figure 5). For example, companies can include a headline and short paragraph with value messages in an e-mail to create awareness about the solution. To increase the likelihood of physicians opening the e-mail, the e-mail can initially focus more on medical information. Digital-savvy physicians can then click on the clickable link to open a (downloadable) leave behind with more information about the solution that is stored on the company’s HCP portal. On the other hand, sales representatives or patient outcome specialists can visit traditional physicians and make them aware about the digital solution, handing over printed material (e.g., HCP leave behind, patient onboarding guide) to facilitate further engagement with the solution.
Figure 5: Content format and messaging for digital solutions
After launch, companies almost immediately want to know if the digital solution has been successful. However, measuring the value of solutions can be challenging, as sales numbers often struggle to depict qualitative value. In this case, we propose that companies put value frameworks in place which highlight stakeholder value instead of sales numbers (Figure 6). This framework is designed to combine three dimensions of KPIs to measure the success of the launch strategy. First, outcome KPIs measure if the strategy is achieving the set goals. Second, engagement KPIs measure if the strategy is engaging stakeholders across channels. Third, activity KPIs measure whether teams are executing the strategy as planned. We advise companies to regularly collect data on these KPIs. Initial read-outs should be conducted within the first 3-4 months after the MVP launch, with more robust data to follow at the 6-9 months mark.
Figure 6: Value framework to measure the success of the digital solution campaign
Overall, we advise companies to overcome the challenges of launching digital solutions and to build tailored Go-to-Market strategies. In this process, we help our customers to address some fundamental areas:
Finding answers to these strategic questions and others is often challenging. At the same time, it is a unique opportunity to promote change at a fascinating time for healthcare. Feel free to reach out to us if you want to learn more about our digital health practices.
1 We refer to all types of digital solutions in this article. This includes digital health, digital medicine and digital therapeutics.